Barry Callebaut opens world's first 3D printing studio to craft ‘unseen chocolate’ experiences

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Barry callebaut 3d printing

The Belgian chocolate supplier, known for its innovations, is now offering the world’s first personalized 3D printed chocolate at scale through its global decoration brand Mona Lisa.

Leonardo Da Vinci has been a source of inspiration for all kinds of creativity over the past centuries, but who would have thought the 15th century renaissance artist would end up inspiring the world’s first personalized 3D printed chocolate at scale?

The Barry Callebaut Group, through its global decoration brand Mona Lisa, launched the innovative technology in Girona, Spain, that empowers chefs to design 'unseen' and bespoke chocolate creations, made from 56% high quality Belgian chocolate, without comprimising on taste or texture.

Mona Lisa 3D Studio

To an invited number of press and industry professionals, visionary pastry chef Jordi Roca, teamed up with Mona Lisa 3D Studio to create a unique signature piece, ‘Flor de Cacao’, inspired by the cacao flower to highlight the stunning power of the new technology, which will allow chefs to craft their own unique creations and reproduce them rapidly and affordably, no matter how intricate or specific the design.

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Jordi Roca works on his 'You' series during the launch of Mona Lisa 3D. Pic: Barry Callebaut

This new way of working with chocolate is going to take consumers by surprise, with previously unthinkable shapes produced at scale and with impressive precision​,” Roca explained. “I’m usually inspired by the things I can’t do as they represent a creative challenge – but now, thanks to Mona Lisa 3D Studio, I can take my chocolate craftsmanship to the next level. I can imagine any new kind of design and it will come to life​.”

Roca also showcased his specially commissioned ‘You’ range, a fully personalized dessert designed by Andreu Carulla and printed by Mona Lisa 3D Studio.

The future of chocolate

The world of creativity is a world of growth and is never-ending, and what we are really motivated by is being able to bring new tools to chefs so that they can be more creative to bring the technology that was not in their reach to them previously through Mona Lisa so they can create the 'unseen chocolate of tomorrow'​,” Patricia Cas Medina, global brand manager for Mona Lisa, told ConfectioneryNews. “This technology is really going to change the world of chocolate for the next 10 years, and we are going to continue investing in it.​”

Centennials and millennials want to share their food online before eating it - Mona Lisa 3D will make the trend even more popular -- Patricia Cas Medina, global brand manager for Mona Lisa

Roca is based in Girona and the press launch for Mona Lisa 3D was held at Mas Marroch, the Roca event space. The Spanish city is also Michelin-star territory, with a total of 19 Michelin stars awarded to 15 restaurants, with a reputation as being at the forefront of culinary innovation.

Innovative precision technology

Barry Callebaut’s Mona Lisa 3D Studio is equipped with innovative precision technology capable of printing thousands of pieces at a time while retaining a bespoke hand-made appearance. Chefs and customers can personalize a chocolate decoration with their own unique design, shape and size preferences, before a team of designers transforms the product into a digital 3D prototype with samples.

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Pic: Barry Callebaut

Once the prototype is approved, the final product can be quickly reproduced at scale. The creations can be used for desserts, confectionery, hot drinks and pastries. Barry Callebaut said the service will be first available to chefs and hotels, coffee chains and restaurants in specific European countries, and confirmed the first customer of the Mona Lisa 3D Studio is Van der Valk, a leading hotel chain in the Netherlands.

‘Instagrammable life’

The latest innovation is clearly aimed at addressing consumers’ desire for an ‘Instagrammable life’, particularly millennials and centennials who want to celebrate life with new experiences and stories.

In this context, food aesthetics are increasingly important – and a recent Barry Callebaut research study showed that 70% of consumers want to try new and exciting chocolate experiences, with six out of 10 wanting to share it on social media.

This technological breakthrough innovation positions the Mona Lisa brand at the forefront of the industry --- Pablo Perversi

According to Barry Callebaut, 3D printing is addressing consumer desires by pushing the boundaries of what’s possible aesthetically. With its new technology, chefs can develop unseen and unique creations and expand their craftsmanship while working with Belgian chocolate.

Innovation is an important pillar of Barry Callebaut’s proven ‘smart growth’ strategy. I am delighted that the Mona Lisa 3D Studio allows chefs to create unique consumer experiences at scale. This technological breakthrough innovation positions the Mona Lisa brand at the forefront of the industry and strengthens Barry Callebaut’s global leadership in Decorations​,” said Pablo Perversi, Chief Innovation, Sustainability & Quality Officer and Head of Gourmet at Barry Callebaut.

Cas Medina told ConfectioneryNews the concept was inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci because of his creative visions and as a tribute to the artist, Mona Lisa is all about being a muse and a source of inspiration for chefs to "bring extraordinary detail into desserts and pastries​".

She said the group had been working on the technological breakthrough for the past three years, and follows a raft of recent innovations by Barry Callebaut, including Ruby chocolate and Wholefruit chocolate.

'You' is the manifestation of our new technology, a dessert created by Jordi Roca, designed by the Carulla studio and printed by Mona Lisa 3D Studio. It enables clients to produce handwritten names, which are personalized, printed, scanned and made into 3D chocolate creations.

It's kind of simple but never been done before, because in order to do this would take an enormous amount of skill, effort and time to hand-write everyone's name in 3D chocolate​,” Cas Medina said.

Personalized chocolate

You can share your personalized chocolate piece on Instagram - centennials and millennials want to share their food online before eating it - Mona Lisa 3D will make the trend even more popular with a personalized chocolate piece​.”

She claimed Mona Lisa 3D is “probably the biggest innovation right now in the chocolate industry​,” and is “a new creative tool for chefs to make new creative experiences come true​.” To make extraordinary shapes out of chocolate, you need to know how to work with design software, she explained.

"What we've done at Barry Callebaut is something different, we decided we are going to do it differently and create the world's first ever ‘print farm’. We have mastered the scalability on a large scale 3D printer. The technology is completely automatic and digital and prints in real chocolate​.”

Cas Medina emphasized that, while 3D confectionery is nothing new, the previous hardware used wasn’t able to create pieces with real chocolate and various compounds had to be added, like vegetable fat to make it stable, which compromised the taste and texture.

Digital process

She explained the process encompasses three things: chocolate expertise, meeting design, meeting technology and bringing the technology to life by “creating intricate pieces at scale, affordable for everybody​. You can be sitting in New York designing something and you send the file across the world and it's printed and sent back to you, it’s a digital process, and our ambition is for chefs to be creating in different places with Mona Lisa 3D printing their work."

She said the same attention to the design, production and finishing also goes into the packaging. "And of course, we pack and ship them with
the same great care – all over the world​,” she said.

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