Lehigh Valley

3D printed chocolate comes to Easton Public Market

EASTON, Pa. - There's a new kind of chocolate at the Easton Public Market.
           
It's not just the taste that makes it special, it's the way it's made: 3D printing. 

The chocolate is made by Jean-Paul Hepp, co-owner of "Chocodiem", which also has a location in Clinton, NJ.

Hepp, born in Belgium, came to America 20 years ago. 

The PHD biologist and former pharmaceutical worker is now a master chocolatier. 

"There's a lot of work behind it. It's artisan, we do everything by hand," he said. 

Six years ago, an eccentric idea was planted in his head.

"Believe it or not, in Belgium they started the 3D printing. And at that time I thought 'this will be something interesting for me,'" said Hepp.

Now, it's here. To make the special pieces, a machine replicates a scanned image and builds it out of chocolate. 

They can be formed into different shapes, made to spell out words, and built to reflect company logos. 

"We will have the generic ones, like 'I love you'..'congratulations'...'feel better'...but also customized-you tell us, and we customize it," he said. 

The generic pieces are priced at $10 a piece. The custom ones will run $20 or more depending on the size and complexity. 

Hepp is working on the project with John Majersky, President of 3DReactions based in Easton.

His company 3D prints objects for clients, normally out of plastic, that run the gamut; from figurines to replacement parts for machines.
 
They also do a substantial amount of 3D photography. 

Majersky got into the chocolate world when he and Hepp had an idea. 

"On top of the Easton circle, there is the bugler. We thought that would make a great piece to make chocolate out of for Easton Heritage Day," he said.
 
From there, they were off. 

3D printing chocolate is a challenge.

"Chocolate requires the perfect temperature to really print at," he said. 

Specifically, the conditions should be 66 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit, and 40 percent humidity.

While it's difficult, there is good news for all involved.

"Whenever I make a mistake, I get to eat the mistake. Which I can't do with plastic printing," Majersky said with a laugh.
 


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