The ‘first-of-its-kind prototype’ has been installed at Myer department store in Melbourne, Australia from July 7-28, producing milk chocolate charms and Australian symbols such as kangaroos and flip-flops.
Cadbury Factory Hobart
The 3D printing machine has been designed and manufactured by 3P, an engineering and automation house based in Warwick, UK, which worked with Mondelēz to develop a new way to manufacture Cadbury Dairy Milk.
The multi-lane technology can print a range of chocolate shapes and sizes, without using a traditional moulding process.
Nim Mistry, senior group leader, discovery technologies, research, development & quality, Mondelēz International, told ConfectioneryNews the R&D from concept to finish took three years for Mondelēz and 3P was involved in the project for the last two years carrying out an initial Feasibility Study, Proof-of-Principle testing and then full prototype machine design, manufacture, development and test.
She said Mondelēz has chosen to trial the products in Australia because Cadbury Dairy Milk is a world-wide brand with strong ties to Australia.
“The Cadbury brand has been in Australia since 1881 and the Cadbury factory in Hobart, Tasmania will soon be celebrating its 100-year anniversary. Aussies are really passionate about Cadbury, evidenced by the fact that around 150 million blocks of Cadbury Dairy Milk are made at the Cadbury factory in Hobart each year,” added Mistry.
“The Mondelēz Australian team has great enthusiasm for this new technology and is excited to have the machine debut there.
“The machine is the first one of its kind for Mondelēz and is at the start of its journey. As with everything Mondelēz do, we will be listening to consumers feedback and they will continue to refine and expand 3D printing options to meet consumers’ needs.”
8 chocolates at a time
The machine produces eight chocolates at a time, which is a new development for 3D printing applications. The multi-lane approach provides the balance between flexibility and a sensible production rate, meaning the machine is viable for commercial production.
It also has a user-friendly operating screen for immediate, low-cost changeovers between products, meaning lower-volume batches can be produced; for example to celebrate ‘one-off’ major national events or personalised gifts.
Designs for new chocolates can be downloaded to the machine in seconds, allowing Mondelēz to rapidly manufacture and test new products in days rather than weeks.
Simon Strothers, director, 3P Innovation, said the company has had a strong partnership with Mondelēz that has built up over several years.
“It’s been an exciting relationship and we look forward to continuing to work with them on more exciting projects in the future,” he said.
“3D printing has a lot of potential as it is a versatile and flexible technology that offers new, personalisable experiences to consumers that cannot be done by conventional methods of manufacture.
“Currently Mondelēz is using this printer for just Cadbury Milk Chocolate, but there is potential to do a lot more. There are certain constraints regarding shape, such as the level of overhang as we build up the layers of chocolate.
“We have defined with Mondelēz what these are, however, so their designers can work on further chocolate designs with a clear set of guidelines."
Mistry added confectionery printing presents many challenges, such as scalability to enable mass-production and chocolate design limitations and prior advances in 3D chocolate printing failed to address one of the most critical aspects of quality for chocolate manufacture which is chocolate tempering.
“We worked closely with 3P to design and develop a machine which tightly controls the conditions of the chocolate throughout the manufacturing process,” she said.
“This was essential in ensuring a smooth, evenly-coloured chocolate and a satisfying taste when you bite into it. It means customers can enjoy the same high-quality Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate they love in a fun and personalisable format.
“What started as a ‘Test and Learn’ project has resulted in a successful prototype that is producing great quality products.”