Without doubt one of the most intriguing recent machinery developments for the confectionery production sector is the advent of 3D printing.
While the technology has now been with us for a few years, it has until now been in its infancy in terms of exploring its full commercial potential.
However, the game may well be about to change quite radically, as was witnessed this month in Australia, where Cadbury unveiled its latest development.
The company showcased an advanced 3D printing system that claims a world first in terms of its flexibility and ability to form a wide range of confectionery shapes.
As the company noted, a key hurdle has been addressed in the project with UK based equipment designer, 3P Innovation, which devised a system of closely monitoring the critical tempering process, which has made the key difference in delivering a variety of chocolate designs.
Though this was in prototype form, such technology clearly has immense potential, given recent trends revealing that consumers are seeking ever more personal experiences with their snacks.
One of the major barriers to the 3D printing market had been the sheer cost of the equipment.
However, as such systems become more commonplace, it may well be the case that not just major corporations like Cadbury can enjoy this market, but small-to-medium sized enterprises may well also have chance to access such creative possibilities.
As we have previously covered, there has already been some exploration of 3D printing in other areas of the wider confectionery market, notably within the gum segment.
This has seen companies such as German-headquartered Wacker Chemie actively develop its own equipment series that it believes will have considerable potential within a number of product ranges.
Similarly, the Gerhard Schubert packaging group is set to demonstrate its own series of 3D tools at this year’s FachPack event in Germany, demonstrating that industry is increasingly placing its focus on this most fascinating areas that could unlock many creative avenues for confectionery and snacks markets around the world.