Tuesday 9 February 2016

Using 3D Printing for a taste of chocolate nostalgia from the 80's

Bring back the Trio!

In this post I investigate the use of 3D printing to help bring back a favourite chocolate bar - a taste of nostalgia from the 80's.

I did all this back in early December 2015 - just in time for Christmas!


In some rather great timing - literally as I was typing up this post and editing the video - United biscuits (the parent of Jacobs) Today 9th Feb 2016 - confirmed that they will actually bring back the TRIO! - I'm excited as they will be back in the supermarkets in only 1 month.

I was rather surprised and delighted by this news - but at least I got to experience my Trio! before anyone else, and I can soon compare to the real thing once again - read on to see how 3D printing can help bring back a favourite snack.


Trio!, Trio!...
I want a Trio! and I want one NOW!

Back in the 80's as a ~10 year old, one of the best things you could find in your lunch box was a chocolate bar. Maybe also some ridiculous 'Hedgehog Crisps'

Chocolate bar's of the 80's were so much more exciting than now. Many companies experimented with new ingredients and combinations, there was a big battle for the next big chocolate snack. Some were good, some were awful and were banished from the shelves very fast indeed. And don't get me started on the Marathon > 'Snickers' name change.

One Chocolate bar that was a fond favourite for me was the Jacob's Trio!

If you remember the Trio! or the memorable advert's - With a girl called Suzy that had a habit of shouting that she wanted a Trio! now! - Watch at your own risk on Youtube here

Trio's are now a thing of the past, they finally died somewhere in the mid to late 90's and unfortunately because Jacob's biscuits has been acquired by another company, they now only really focus on crackers. That's crackers in my opinion as the 30-year cycle of childhood memories is well upon us for this fantastic chocolate snack.

Another Trio! fan made a valiant attempt to bring back the bar many years back, this was a 2' long 9.5Kg heart-attack inducing monster of a 'snack'. It was not enough to bring it back or interest Jacobs, he even got into the national newspapers. You can see his glorious effort over on pimpthatsnack

Now the only option we have is to attempt to re-create the long lost bar - and that's where a little 3D printing can help.

Please read on below for details of how you can make your own, and you can watch me getting excited about the Trio! chocolate bar in the video below or over on Youtube in HD. -

Project Trio!

At the point of deciding to do this project, I was also reading a really great book called the Great British Tuck Shop by Steve Berry and Phil Norman. I can totally recommend if it you have an interest or memory for snacks of the 70's and 80's past. They mention the Trio, only briefly.

For the mold making - I'm using a great food safe silicone, you mix equal quality of Part A and B.

But first you need to design and 3D print your chocolate bar, I'm using Sketchup above to produce both negative molds and also positive chocolate bars.

After 3D Printing the end result is a set of positive molds that we can make silicone negative molds

Mix up the silicone, trying hard not to get too many bubbles, using a cutting action helps.

Pour and settle - bang it a few times down on the desktop to remove bubbles.

5-6 hours later - after removing the bars you will have a mold ready to use - after a wash and dry first.

For the ingredients, I don't have exact quantities, I was winging it for this experiment.

  • You need milk chocolate - I used Cadbury Dairy Milk. (or chocolate of your choice).
  • One Caramac bar to help make the 'toffee' layer.
  • I used 1 table spoon of salted caramel sauce - because my tastes have changed slightly since I was 10 years old :) -  (in the US that's probably about 1/24th of a 'Cup' - I'm guessing).
  • By some total accident I found that Scottish Walkers Pure Butter shortcake biscuits are exactly the dimensions we need for a Trio! - and they taste great too.

When melting the chocolate and caramac for making the toffee I recommend using a water bath (Bain-Marie)  - this helps gently melt things so you don't cook the chocolate or split the toffee.

A thermometer or other temperature measuring device is a good idea for keeping track of the melting process. If you want to also temper the chocolate before using it, then maybe practice the art of melting at a higher temperature - around 42 Degrees C and lowering the temperature to around 31 Degrees C before using in the mold.

Another directly printed mold in FilaFlex for the Caramel sections of the Trio!

Firstly you want to cast the toffee sections, melt mix and pour into the mold. They will not set hard, as you want a gooey toffee layer in the bar. I put them in the freezer to go hard so they were easy to remove from the mold.

When pouring the chocolate, just focus on getting some in the molds first.

And then give them a tap on the table, that will settle, level and release most of the bubbles.

You will see that on my Trio! bars I had a few bubbles remaining around the Trio text, so make sure you give them a really good tapping.

Add the toffee pieces and a little more chocolate, try to make sure the toffee does not move around too much.

Then you want to add the shortcake. Depending on how much chocolate you have used, you may need to reduce the height of the shortcake.

Finally cover in more chocolate and level off with a blade or spatula.

Leave to set in the fridge...

Then eat them all with a nice cup of tea.

Food / Body Safety of 3D Printed Materials - 

This is sometimes a confusing area. Some materials for 3D printing are being advertised as 'FDA approved' Food and medical 'safe'. That may or not be true in their manufacturing process to make the filament. But please remember that when used in a 3D printer, being melted in a hot-end that may have many other contaminated materials. Along with a brass nozzle that probably contains lead. It's worth keeping in mind that the FDM printing process is not a 'safe' method of producing objects that come into contact with foods or your body.

3D Printing out a cookie cutter or even a cup or spork to use once, maybe okay. But remember that 3D parts are made of layers of plastic, with lots of indentations, grooves and micro-holes where bacteria can grow or contamination can collect.

You also can't just put most 3D printed objects in the dishwasher, they usually melt, deform or discolor.

I was and still am investigating the use of TPU - thermoplastic elastomer (polyurethane rubber) for foods and mold making.

I know I had some colour leak out of a bright green FilaFlex mold when I was doing soap and candle making. (that was at higher working temperatures of around 80 Degrees C) This indicates that it may not be such a great idea to use it directly for food based products.

I did make a Filaflex Trio! bar mold (shown above on the right), in clear material, but decided to not to use it directly. And as you see above I also used white PLA printed Trio! bars to cast a food-safe mold. I feel happy with PLA as it's only in contact for a short time while the mold sets (5-6 hours) and the mold can be fully washed out with warm soapy water before and after use.

Other flexible materials are also available, Ninjaflex, Semiflex and plasticized (soft) PLA.
You can buy FilaFlex from Recreus. This material is flexible enough to allow easy removal, but also holds it's shape well. It's also ideal for temperatures of melted soap, candle-wax etc.

As ever, be aware and make up your own mind before using 3D printing for food or body based projects.

3D Model files - 

You can find all the source and model files for this project over on my Youmagine page here.

Thanks again for reading, please share and feedback on this project or anything else I'm doing.

If you would like to see more of these experiments / tutorials or examples of practical/fun uses for 3D printing - do get in contact and leave a comment below -

Until next time, I have three more Trio! bars to eat, and no you can't have one.

And remember to look out for REAL Trio! bars back in the UK shops in March 2016 - Can't wait!

**** Update March 2016 ****

I have all the Trio's now :)

Twitter - @Richrap3d
Google+ - RichardHorne_RichRap3D

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