Photos: MakerBot Sweetens Up For Easter

04/04/2012 9:48 AM |

Chocolate coins and bunnies, courtesy of the Replicator.
  • Chocolate coins and bunnies, courtesy of the Replicator.

Many were first introduced to MakerBot’s 3D printers on the Colbert Report, when founder Bre Pettis gave Stephen Colbert a plastic, MakerBot-made bust of his own head. Enthusiasts were then able download that design from the Thingiverse, the online home of MakerBot blueprints, and print out their own. But at least one person on the Thingiverse had the idea to try out a different material for Mr. Colbert’s head: chocolate.

Part of Tuesday night’s MakerBot User Group meeting (or MUG, for short) at Tekserve was devoted to the art of making chocolates with the Replicator, one of MakerBot’s 3D printers. In honor of Easter, Tony Sherwood, a MakerBot web designer, and Liz Arum, MakerBot’s head of education, demonstrated how to make silicone molds using a 3D blueprint of a real chocolate bunny.

The MakerBot bunny and bunny coin.
  • The MakerBot bunny and bunny coin.

To make a bunny coin mold, Sherwood told me how he spliced the bunny blueprint in half and plopped it on a disc in OpenSCAD (a 3D modeling program), a design he then printed in plastic and glued to the bottom of a cropped Dixie cup.

The empty, finished coin mold.
  • The empty, finished coin mold.

Sherwood then pushed silicone-based Amazing Putty down into the cup and waited for it to set. Four minutes later Sherwood and Arum removed the silicone molds and poured in 110 degree Belgian chocolate.

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When all the chocolate had cooled to 95 degrees, the molds peeled off and revealed MakerBot-made bunnies and coins.

“Once a year I apply for my dream jobs,” Sherwood said. “And MakerBot called me back.”

MakerBots can do more than mold chocolate. A couple of years ago, MakerBot began developing something called the Frostruder, a syringe-like accessory you could hook up to a printer and use to produce frosting and peanut butter designs. The company isn’t selling the Frostruder yet, but the Tufts Robotics club got a chance to test out their frosting programming on cupcakes last week. (Watch the video here.)

But sweets weren’t the only craft talked about at Tuesday’s MUG—MakerBot developers spoke about using the Replicator for things like metal casting, robotic flowers, and even 3D prints of photographic images. And meanwhile, the Makerbot community continues to expand and use existing designs on the Thingiverse in innovative ways. If you thought the Stephen Colbert chocolate bust was cool, check out artist Micah Ganske’s use of William Shatner’s 3D-printed profile.

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You can follow Sydney Brownstone on Twitter @sydbrownstone