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Can someone please help me locate a source for chocolate/pastry silk screen supplies. I want to make or buy custom screens. I saw that Chef Rubber will make them for you, but it costs $180. Do other companies make custom screens? If I want to make my own screens, where can I buy food safe supplies? Thanks in advance for any advice.

Tags: chocolate, screen, silk

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Christina:

There are several companies that will make custom transfers for you, but I know of no company that sells the supplies necessary to make screens for custom screening. The challenge as you note is finding materials that are food safe - most notably the emulsion. There is one, I think, and it is GRAS (generally recognized as safe) NOT certified food safe by the FDA. So, there is a food safety/liability issue to consider.

Even if you order custom transfers from Chef Rubber I don't think they will sell you the screens. I know Paul Edwards, the owner and can ask if you like.

Even though the $180 sounds like a lot, it's not when compared with the cost of doing it yourself because you can't do this in a screen printing shop because of all the nasty chemicals everywhere.

You need to balance the cost against the cost of all of the equipment to do it - screens, a darkroom, the equipment to process everything, the light source for exposure, and the jigs to hold the screens - very important if you are doing multi-color designs that need any sort of precise register. You also need a way to keep the ink (the colored cocoa butter) at the correct temperature/consistency throughout the printing process.

If you are still interested in doing it yourself, here is the only reasonably in-depth article I have been able to find on the process in the five or six years I have been searching:

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=105238

:: Clay
Thanks for the reply Clay. I think you hit the nail on the head.

I was, and still am, in the process of locating supply sources for making the screens. I understand that there are many sources for ordering custom transfer sheets, but was looking for a method to actually make the transfer sheets or print directly on chocolate. I have found different sources for equipment ranging from hobby to commercial. See my blog entry for complete info. I found several different solutions, but as you say, nobody who has FDA approval on the emulsions. The companies just say the emulsions are non toxic when dry. I don't know if that is a good enough answer.

As far as Chef Rubber, I do believe that they can get the screens made for you ready to use. This is the only food related business I have found that sells them. Bakedeco used to sell screens, but the item has been discontinued. Maybe there are different sources, I just can't find them.

I don't think the folks at Chef Rubber are making the screens themselves. As you said, it is alot of work. Time being money $180 is not that bad; however, you need a different screen for each color, which isn't a cost effective solution except for big jobs. If you are going to do that, you may as well order the transfer sheets already made. It would be alot cheaper too.
Christina:

Actually, in speaking with Paul Edwards about this, I do believe that Chef Rubber makes the screens. By this I mean they buy the frames stretched with the mesh from someone else but then apply the emulsion, expose and develop the image, and then do the actual screening. Also from that conversation, I got the impression that the emulsion they use (they have it made for them) IS FDA approved - they just don't sell it.

If the company advertises as non-toxic when dry you can count on it. Their lawyers would not let them say it if it weren't true because of insurance liability issues.

You do want to check into the material many of the transfer companies are using for their "ink" - many (if not most) of them use partially-hydrogenated fats as the carrier for the pigments. Chef Rubber uses cocoa butter.

The semi-automatic machines from decotechgroup.com you refer to in your blog - RokuPrint? Systematic Automation - systauto.com - Model F1?

Also - take a look at the stencils like the ones used for cake decorating - e.g., designerstencils.com. There is a lot of stuff you can do with those, including getting some very interesting textures. There is a simple way to make a jig for each stencil set to ensure precise registration. Laser-cutting thin sheets of rigid acetate makes this very easy.

In the end, I agree. If you are using lots of multi-color transfers then having them made is the way to go. If you want to experiment with single-color short run then finding an inexpensive way to make them offers lots of flexibility. Cost saving is another issue - they're less expensive only if you don't pay yourself to do the work.

There is wallpaper out there that can cost hundreds of dollars per roll so I think there is an interesting opportunity for someone willing to push the envelope on transfer sheet aesthetics.
Clay,

Thank you for contacting Mr. Edwards. I sincerely wish he would consider selling the emulsion. It is really scary to know what to use or not. It would be a great relief to have a trusted source.

I appreciate your time.

Thank you,

Christina
I have the food safe emulsion for silk screening.

Check out my experiments in silk screening
here
Kerry,

Are you using colored cocoa butter for every color or do you have to add white chocolate to any of your colors? Are you still printing on overhead projector acetate sheets or did you find a source for the thinner sheets?
I do have some of the 'proper' sheets, but tend to do use the overheads most for the experiments.

I add white coloured cocoa butter to some colours - ie titanium dioxide - to make them opaque rather than white chocolate.
Thanks for your help. My family owns a screen printing shop. I own a chocolate shop. After reading your adventure it has inspired me to play around with it myself. Where can I buy proper sheets?
Signature Fine Foods in Toronto has the guitar sheets.
Christina,

I too have been trying to figure out how to make my own custom screens for cocoa butter. Have you found food safe supplies yet? I came across what's called YUDU which is a silkscreen machine. It uses emulsion sheets instead of regular liquid emulsion. I was just wondering if those emulsion sheets are or could be food safe after washing the screen before using it for printing. Any thoughts on this? I wonder where we can obtain info on the food safety of emulsion sheets. Does anyone have any ideas?
Irma,

I really haven't found anybody come out and say that their products are FDA approved. I looked at the YUDO machine too. Very cool. I think this machine can also be used to make photopolymer plates for making raised/embossed chocolate molds.

As far as the screens, I think the best choice is to buy them made from someone like Chef Rubber or just use acetate stencils or some other food safe stencil.

Thanks,

Christina
The Chocolate Mold Factory
HI Christina: I am not sure about the food safe issue but I do know that making silk screens requires substantial equipment. The biggest in terms of price and space would be a vacuum table(for holding the screen flat) and high intensity lights(to set the emulsion film) . If you are committed to making your own screens I would suggest enrolling in a silk screen(serigraph) class at a local art center or college. Not only will you have access to their equipment, I'll bet they help you research the food safe issue....
curt

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