As part of a new 3D printing project, a group of students from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Hawaii recently partnered with a local chocolate shop. The goal of the collaboration between these students and Choco le’a at Manoa was to create custom chocolate molds using 3D printing technologies.
Since the day the food industry discovered the myriad of benefits that additive manufacturing has to offer, new projects have increased rapidly and there seems to be no end in sight. But while most new projects focus primarily on food production itself, the possibilities that additive manufacturing offers in terms of tools that support production are at least as versatile and advantageous. So a group of students in Manaus, Hawaii came up with the idea for a new project during an upper-level mechanical engineering course. They focused on making 3D printed molds that, once completed, would be used by the local Choloate store, Choco le’a, to produce a new chocolate bar design.
The group of engineering students, acting under the supervision of Assistant Professor Tyler Ray, first came into contact with the owner of Choco le’a Erin Kanno Uehara. Uehara, a graduate of the University of Hawaii, shared her experience in chocolate production by giving them a tour of her shop and also explained the challenges her business had in the past and how difficult it was to find the right molds at a low price. cost. After that, they shared ideas about how the project would be completed in the best possible way and what steps would be necessary to make it a success. For the production of the molds, the students used food-grade materials, as well as a high-tech 3D printer and manufacturing equipment at the ooh Laboratory of the Department of Mechanical Engineering of Manoa.
The team soon presented the finished casts, and Erin Kanno Uehara was more than happy with the results. “In Choco funwe use chocolates as a way to connect with others and it was an honor to be able to do it right here in our own community.” she said. “A conversation with a chocolatier friend led us to an opportunity where together we could truly ‘Bring Peace to Our World, One Chocolate at a Time.’ On behalf of my entire team, we are very grateful to have shared this collaborative experience to grow together. I hope that more companies and schools will join because we can all learn a lot from each other! We thank Professor Mahalo Ray and the mechanical engineering students for their exceptional contribution!”
Helping the Community
The project, while presenting a low-cost and sustainable alternative to traditional production methods, also shows a great way to give smaller communities the opportunity to help themselves by allowing solutions to be produced locally rather than having to order and export from abroad, as this great example from Hawaii shows, a group of smaller islands located far away in an isolated area in the Pacific Ocean. Normally, due to the lack of production companies nearby, smaller stores like Choco le’a’s, the only option would be to order from the faraway mainland, which would make the process time consuming and shipping expensive. Kendall Lorenzo, a senior mechanical engineering student who was one of the students working on the project, stated: “Honestly, it feels great; It feels amazing. I never would have thought that I would use my skills to benefit the community. But that’s the poignant part of this whole project. I look forward to using the skills we learn in ooh to benefit more businesses, more companies, and help them solve the problems they have.” For more information on Choco le’a, visit the store’s website, HERE.
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*Cover photo credits: Choco le’a