Introduction: 3D Chocolate Printer Made From LEGO

Using lego and a few custom components a 3D printer for chocolate is possible. I did this project a long time ago so the documentation is incomplete, but hopefully it will inspire someone to rebuild it and fill in the blanks.

Step 1: Make a Chocolate Extruder.

These were my first rough plans for a chocolate extruder. Powdered chocolate into a heated barrel, lego worm screws as the slurry pump through an ejection nozzle.

Step 2: Cut Extrusion Chamber

bandsaw - 1" x 1" x 3" aluminum extrusion

Step 3: Drill and Reem the Bore Hole for the Worm Screw.

I can't remember the diameter, but it was a close tolerance fit for the lego worm gear (close to 1/2in) Nice thing about lego is that it is super high tolerance!

Step 4: Cartridge Heaters.

4 x 5W bar heaters to supply the heat to melt the chocolate. I think there are cheaper solutions, but there were convenient and fit nicely in 1/8in holes.

i got mine from watlow:

http://www.watlow.com/products/heaters/ht_cart.cfm

Step 5: Interchangeable Nozzle and Set Screw

I put an interchangeable nozzle and set screw in the end of the chocolate extruder. the idea was this would make it easier to change the diameter of the chocolate bead being extruded as well as making it easier to clean out the chamber as necessary - like when chocolate melts solidly inside it...

Step 6: Cartridge Heater Positions Around Extrusion Chamber.

i placed the cartridge heaters around the extrusion chamber like so. I need a jobbers drill bit to drill the 1/8in holes deep enough.

Step 7: Fully Assembled Extrusion Chamber.

again, in theory the lego thermometer and programmable brick should be enough to do the chocolate control, but i used the PID and thermocouple because i was just interested in proving the concept and i had those lying around my lab.

Step 8: Testing the Extrusion Chamber

Here i am testing the extrusion chamber.

Step 9: Build a Lego Gantry

I can't remember all the details, but it's pretty simple. i used rack and pinions for the X and Y axis gantries.

there are lots of ways to do this. You really want z axis too. i hacked the Z axis by using a layer by layer increment ratchet that was mechanical. given the memory limits of the PCX bricks, one layer was about all you could program before having to upload a new layer code anyway.

Step 10: Lets Build Some Chocolate Stuff!

Here's the finished (well, you know, in a rough prototype kind of way) printer.

there are only 3 controllable ports on the rcx brick i used, so one for x, one for y, and one for the extrusion control. you'd need to gang two rcx bricks to further control temperature and the z axis.

I did end up doing 5 layer builds of 3D things like the letter A. unfortunately without a release / support material the geometry is limited, but it was still cool.

hopefully someone will rebuild this and simplify it.

Comments

author
Gosse Adema made it! (author)2015-09-12

Made it!

Used my LEGO 3D printer (https://www.instructables.com/id/LEGO-3d-Printer/)

Replaced the extruder with a chocolate extruder.

IMG_1207.JPGIMG_1716.JPG
author
linda.johnson.3367174 (author)2015-02-10

Hello! We love Lego's and we also have a small chocolate business. I'd love to discuss a collaborative project. Contact me. linda@chocologyunlimited.com

author
fluctuat (author)2012-10-21

Ok this is pretty genius, but what about 3D objects? Does the chocolate stay hot for too long? How about a cooling fan after the drip nozzle? Ultimately I think printing a chocolate bunny would be the benchmark for this awesome machine.

author
Greggers1 (author)fluctuat2014-07-08

a year ago i know but..... pressurize the chocolate rater than melt it? i remember seeing a cool idea ages ago about putting chocolate through a plastic injection molding machine... the result chocolate is fluid a high pressure but sets quick. this was an idea to aid chocolate manufacture and de-molding times but might work in a 3d printer :)

author
RobertGoldring (author)Greggers12014-08-20

i work with chocolate quite a bit and pressurized chocolate would be perfect for that.

author
Greggers1 (author)RobertGoldring2014-08-22

hhmmmm, i feel my cnc router/plasma cutter project taking a side step. I think i can make a safe machine that can cut both metal and plastic with out setting the place on fire but the chocolate might have a few chips in it.....

author
LXMaker (author)2013-09-28

3D printer just to market is relatively expensive, after all, is a technology that has just started, manufacturing cost is relatively high, after a period of time,technology is more and more popular, the price drop. Consumers consider theother countries of the brand, the price is relatively low, such as LXMaker.Interested in 3D print can log onto the http://goo.gl/6l6j29 or http://goo.gl/2wt6LU view details.

author
Jacky P (author)2013-07-01

Can you add a parts list?

author
captain Jack (author)2012-05-17

Show me the Money!!! (ie- tasty chocolate results!)

author
ProCactus (author)2011-12-12

what does it do?

If someone makes a chocolate printer, You would think they had an example.
Maybe" Step 10 - Lets build some chocolate stuff!" is not finished?

author
geckomage (author)2011-10-27

haha, i was just using my labs 3d printer and then saw this article so i figured i'd give it a read :) support material would be hard to do for this one :( i use a special type of plastic that desolves in a special acid bath and leaves the structural material behind :)

author
dscott4 (author)2011-10-10

Hey there,

I would love to see your project in the 3D print group I have just started!!!!

https://www.instructables.com/group/3Dprint/

author
kylekosan23 (author)2011-07-25

u should add a vid to show how it works

author
bgepp1 (author)2011-06-02

omg - smh - pfa (pretty friggin awesome) - this is sweeeeeet!

author
darthpotato1 (author)2010-07-02

i know for sure that you can get some in the starwars ships with opening wings, maybe you can find some in technix sets (i think thats what they are called anyways)

author
scistone (author)darthpotato12011-05-15

Yea, get them in tecknic sets, almost all of 'em have worm gears

:D

author
njolley (author)2010-11-15

Great Instructable - well done! For those who are interested beyond lego, head to Makerbot Industries for a frosting extruder and RepRap for a plastic extruder to bolt onto this lego design. I'm going to put this extruder on my cnc project!!!!!

author
twighahn (author)njolley2010-11-20

this seems to be a lego version of the bag extruder that all bakers use

author
I am a doofus (author)2008-01-17

the new Nxt is out so you cound make vary good chocolate sculptures

author

ESPECIALLY since is has 1 degree accurate servos!

author
kiamokh (author)2009-08-09

can someone help me

author
TacoTormentor (author)kiamokh2010-11-17

yes

author
jantine (author)2010-11-17

You win. I'm not going to build it, because i am too lazy to do so, but it is awesomely cool that you did.

author
roland985 (author)2010-11-14

100% pure win. Yum, This is my summer project.

author
hanelyp (author)2010-11-14

A few points:
- A PID controller strikes me as overkill for the heating control, but if you have one ready on hand it works.
- This should work well with wax or other low melting point materials instead of chocolate.
- A second nozzle laying down powdered sugar filler between the chocolate could allow more flexible designs.

author
qwertyboy (author)2010-11-14

bricklink.com

author
er0401 (author)2010-11-14

Omg u should submit this to Lego magazine and see if they'll let an adults cool creation be entered! :)

author
9ale7 (author)2010-11-14

did i miss the wiring step of the CNC motors?
or was it manual not using any motors in the X Y axis?
( in the video it looks like a cnc)

author
freerunnin1 (author)2010-09-03

isn't the frame work that znaps stuff?, iv'e got some somewhere... im planning on using an old hp printer and exchanging the ink for a feeding chamber for the stuff that will print out the 3d model, not sure what yet maybe sugar or something...

author
9ale7 (author)freerunnin12010-11-14

worth the try, we all have old printers sitting there doing nothing,
but i worry about the programing?!
any idea?? even to be used in CNC???

author
mary candy (author)2010-11-14

great!!!

author
930913 (author)2010-11-12

Awsome- great job. I liked the comment idea of a lego printer that prints legos hahaha. GJ

author
whiteboipumas (author)2007-05-01

wat is this supposed to do? make shapes of chocoalate?

author
930913 (author)whiteboipumas2010-11-12

*sigh*

author
mtownsend (author)2009-01-18

Siiiiiigh. I am way too young to be out of it. When I read the title i thought you were going to be printing ON chocolate. Like for eating. I really felt stupid when I realized what was actually happening here.

author

If you just want to print on food, cake shops do it all the time, they used printers that are retrofitted to dispense food coloring. Somone should figure out how they do that and make an instructable on it.

author
dabombmaker (author)mtownsend2010-09-14

same kinda pissed it isnt actually

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MillenniumMan (author)mtownsend2009-05-30

You're disappointed that you thought it was to print ON chocolate as opposed to printing a 3D chocolate object? Printing on is thousands of times easier than what this guy did. This thing is only a step below a 3D prototype printer, but it's better because you can eat what comes out of this :D *drooooooooool* Now, if you can only convert this to use liquid polymers. You can make a lego machine that makes legos:)

author

 You mean like a von newmann machine?

author
sethcim (author)2010-10-15

What was the chocolate recipe?

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benthekahn (author)2008-06-27

I think I am going to attempt this with NXT! *insert dramatic music*

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darthpotato1 (author)benthekahn2010-07-02

oooooooOOOOOOoooohhhh, you should make that an instructable because i have the NXT but i don't have those weird archway pieces.

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casey321b (author)benthekahn2008-09-04

DUN DUN DUUUUUUUUNNNNN

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conrad2468 (author)benthekahn2008-09-01

you mean "dramatic prairie dog music"

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jokerrabit (author)2009-05-19

wouldn't be to much to substitute hot glue or plastic with a low melting temp for chocolate to make patterns for parts and things.

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Speedmite (author)2009-03-09

Wow....... I cant build this. Dont have everything. Great work.

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volquete (author)2009-01-18

err....what does it do?

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zimmemic25 (author)volquete2009-02-20

it prints easy 3d chocolate things. 1)CAD your chocolate figure/shape/whatever 2)convert it for use with this printer 3)run the printer 4)eat your chocolate figure/shape/whatever

author
biojae (author)2007-07-27

hey, I have a java program for the lejos java implementation of mindstorms. i wouldn't mind showing you it, it loads in a obj file and "When" i get my printer working it will print it out

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