Interview: Hans Fouche

A new interview @3DigitalCooks, this time with Hans Fouche. I must admit the only thing I knew about him was all the buzz behind Chocnology. But after this interview, you will see there is so much more. F1 engineer, pioneer printing chocolate, maker and businessman. Enjoy!

3AF

Fig 1 Cake by Fouche Chocolates

1. Could you please introduce yourself

Hi Luis, Im Hans Fouche, from Kempton Park, South Africa. Im an Engineer, that have started with 3D Printing back in 1993, and in 1996 have formed Fouche Chocolates, and have been 3D Printing chocolates ever since!

2. How did you start working on 3d food printing?

I have started 3D Printing with SuperGlue, in the UK, while working on the windtunnel model of the Brabham BT 60 Formula One Car in 1990. When I returned to South Africa in 1992, I substitute the SuperGlue with icing sugar. Icing sugar proved very difficult to work with, and Chocolate seemed a better option, and the market a lot bigger! A Friend of mine got a chocolate decoration on an airline dessert, which he brought to me. I replicate this with my 3D Chocolate Printer, and went to show the Head Chef at South African Airways, which started ordering some 3D Printed chocolate from us way back in 1995. Then it was just called an “computer controlled chocolate piping machine” .

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Fig 2 Monkey by Fouche Chocolates

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Fig 3 Lion by Fouche Chocolates

3. With your experience in chocolate, 3d printing, and combining both; what are the biggest challenges to face in order to have a “perfect” 3d chocolate printer?

Chocolate don’t set as fast as ABS or PLA, after exiting the nozzle, to start with.

That means the first layer is still very soft when you comes around with the 2nd layer….

When you get to the 5th layer or so, you end up with just a blob of chocolate…

Secondly, to pump chocolate, is a science all on its own. Tempered couverture chocolate is very difficult to pump, and to keep the temperature, “just right” . Cooling the platen works, for the first and second layers, then you have to cool the air. But then your nozzle clogs up, and you pipe bursts, and you have chocolate all over the place!

It all can be done though, and my next machine will be a whole lot better than my last…. Im almost there!

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Fig 4 Zambezi by Fouche Chocolates

4. You have a deep experience developing your own 3d printers: chocolate, pellets, giant prints… do you think there is such a thing as a perfect extruder for food? Did you try other things apart from chocolate? If its possible can you explain us more about your chocolate extrusion system?

No!, it comes down to the “universal machine”, that can do anything! No!

You can have a universal machine with X, Y and Z movements, but not a universal extruder!

I have worked with icing sugar, melted sugar, chocolate, merrange, plastic, paper pulp, glue, various pastes and metal.

All use a different type of extruder system, with different settings. With each one it takes a while to get it to work just nice. Change to a different material, and you start all over again.

One can think of a universal X Y and Z movement machine, but then with different types of extruder nozzles, that can be automatically changed…

The possibility’s are huge…. Melted sugar can be very interesting….And dough for biscuits…and eggwhites for merranges…and decorated toffee-apples…and 3D Printed Chocolate Bars…and one shot big decorations direct onto cakes…and IceCream cones…and ice cream desserts…and …and…and…

And I do like your pancake machine…. It must be in a shop somewhere….!

And those small eggs you do with first the white, and then the yellow… ten of them with your breakfast, in stead of one big egg…

At Checkers shops they now have lady’s backing fresh pancakes inside the shop….

If the lady is doing it with a machine like yours……. That will be something!!!!

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Fig 5 Cheese Cake by Fouche Chocolates

5. I really liked how you managed to put together a 3d printed chocolate exhibition. Beyond the final results, how was the whole process, how long it took? how was developing the technology? interaction with artists? difficulties that you found?

Well, the phone rang…

Native Advertising company, was tasked by Android-Nestle KitKat, to do the launch of there new operating system. The Innovative minds at Native brought the High Tech Android operating system to Nestle Chocolate via High Tech 3D chocolate printing. Then they started looking for someone that can actually 3D Print with chocolate….. After some meetings, to sort out different expectations, time and budget considerations, the fun started! Years ago my 8 headed chocolate 3D Printer, of which I hade 2, was capable of doing full 3D Chocolate prints, but I have disable the Z axis, and are only doing 2D chocolate decorations for cakes and desserts with it now. This machine is used for production, and could not be spared for some Chocnology fun and games! Therefore my RapMan 3.2 was called up for some chocolate duty! I put it next to the 8 headed machine, and used the same chocolate supply.

Fig 6 8-headed chocolate 3D printer by Fouche Chocolates

The timescale was 3 months, for start to Finnish, and a limited budget forced me to take some shortcuts, which had an effect on the quality of the final product, but with the time and money available I think we did well. Another difficulty was to communicate to the designers what can, and what can not be done, especially since I was not sure what could, and what could not be done! Many late night hours was spend, and many many pictures was send back to Adrian Dawans from Native late at night. He then had to tell the designers in the morning, no sorry, can you please change this and that, Hans and his machine can not do it this way, but lets try perhaps that way! Some of the designs was redone up to 8 times!, but luckily we have learned, and the last design or two was a breeze! If we can redo this type of project now with more time and a better budget, we would be able to achieve spectacular results!

Fig 7 Some samples from Chocnology by Fouche Chocolates

6. What kind of feedback do you get from people when you show them your work? Any great moments?

Wow! Wow! Wow! People love it!!! Is it really chocolate? Can I eat it? Where can I buy it? I did not now it was possible….. It have a huge Wow factor! People love chocolate. They love nice funky chocolate even more!

If we can get a 3D Printed chocolate Bar on the market…..that Looks Nice, and tastes nice…. People will go mad about it, because so many chocolate Bars really looks so dull….!

And secondly,

people want these amazing machines, that makes these amazing chocolates!

They want to do it themselves…. Explore the new boundaries of the technology, have fun!

So much different from the “old style” of chocolate!

I think we must give them what they want!!

Fig 8 Cakes by Fouche Chocolates

7. Could you share your opinion about the future of 3d food printing? Do you think it can have a true impact in our daily life?

Yes, yes and yes…

But

Old habits die hard….

There is a human resistance to all things new. It will take a while to break those barriers down.

Internet can help to make that process a lot faster, and people like you with your website are running at the front!

Lets run, and keep on running!!!!!

Regards,

Hans Fouche

Fouche Chocolates, Facebook

PS. Just an interesting story to conclude with…

Between 1994 and 1999 we had two 8 head 3D chocolate piping machines running, we have done

3D Printed chocolate cups for Economy class of South African Airways for quite a few years !,

as well as 3D Printed chocolate plate decorations for First Class,

as well as various 3D Printed chocolate decorations and cups for Bushiness Class.

And then it was cancelled.

Just like that.

Cost cutting.

Old habits die hard…

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Fig 9 Several delicious good looking desserts by Fouche Chocolates

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