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 factory. The goal of the collaboration of these students and Choco le’a in Manoa, was to create personalized chocolate molds using 3D printing technologies.
Since the day the food industry discovered the abundance of benefits of additive manufacturing, new projects have mushroomed rapidly and there seems to be no end in sight. But while most new projects focus primarily on food production itself, the possibilities offered by additive manufacturing in terms of tools that support production are at least as versatile and advantageous. Because of this, a group of students from Manao, Hawaii came up with the idea for a new project during a graduate-level mechanical engineering class. They focused on making 3D printed molds, which when completed would be used by local Choloate store Choco le’a to produce a new chocolate bar design.
The group of engineering students, who were acting under the supervision of assistant professor Tyler Ray, first made contact with Choco le’a owner Erin Kanno Uehara. Uehara, herself a graduate of the University of Hawaii, shared her expertise in chocolate production by showing them around her shop and also explained the challenges her business has faced in the past and how difficult it was. to find the right molds at low prices. Cost. Then they shared ideas on how the project would be done in the best possible way and the steps needed to make it a success. For the production of the molds, the students used food-safe materials, as well as a high-tech 3D printer and manufacturing equipment in the uh Laboratory of the Mechanical Engineering Department of Mānoa.
The finished molds were quickly presented by the team, and Erin Kanno Uehara was more than pleased with the results, “Chez Choco leʻawe use chocolates as a way to connect with others and it was an honor to be able to do so here in our own community,” she says. “A conversation with a chocolatier friend led 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 experience of working together to grow together. I hope more companies and schools will join together, because we can all learn a lot from each other! We thank Professor Mahalo Ray and the Mechanical Engineering students for your outstanding contribution! »
Help the community
The project, while showcasing a low-cost and sustainable alternative to traditional production methods, also shows a great way to give small communities a chance to help themselves by allowing solutions to be produced locally instead of having to ordering and exporting from abroad, as this great example from Hawaii, a group of small islands located far away in a remote area of the Pacific Ocean, shows. Normally, due to the lack of nearby production companies, the only option for small stores like Choco le’a would be to order from the far mainland, which would make the process long and expensive. Senior mechanical engineering major Kendall Lorenzo, who was one of the students working on the project, said: “Honestly, it feels really good; it’s incredible. I never thought I would use my skills for the benefit of the community. But that’s the comforting part of this whole project. I hope to be able to use the skills we are learning in uh to benefit more businesses, more businesses and help them solve the problems they have. To learn more about Choco le’a, visit the store’s website, HERE.
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*Cover photo credits: Choco le’a