Welsh Business Pips Competitors to the Post by Utilising University’s Advanced Facilities

​14/03/2016

​​The bespoke hot chocolate moulds are created at Cardiff Met's FabLab. 

A South Wales-​based business has been ​utilising the advanced technologies at Cardiff Metropolitan University to produce moulds for its unique hot chocolate product.

Phillip Easton, or “Master Pip” as he is known in the hot chocolate world, from Mountain Ash, started the Real Hot Chocolate Co; a hot chocolate company that produces artisan hot chocolate made from chocolate shavings, and currently uses the machinery at FabLab Cardiff to produce the moulds.

The idea for the hot chocolate came when Pip’s mum started making milky coffees in her café for the first time some years ago - steaming it with milk instead of making it up with water. Not liking the taste of coffee, Phil decided to use the same technique with the milk, but with added chocolate instead.

The hot chocolate is presented in a coin block and to produce these blocks, Phil needed to use custom moulds for the chocolate to set, and for correct portion sizes. It was at this point that he approached Cardiff School and Design (CSAD) for help.

Initially presenting the idea as a project for students, the school directed Phil to FabLab Cardiff, a technical workshop that specialises in research, enterprise and invention and is linked to the global FabLab network.

Speaking about FabLab, Phil said: “Being able to use the FabLab has really made a difference in the business. Not only have I saved thousands of pounds, but I now have more control over the production of the moulds, and the gratification that everything is made by my own hands.

“It’s a great learning curve producing the moulds at FabLab. It is a great place to work, and Martijn and Kit have been fantastic throughout. They are able to teach me so much. It has also been two-way as students are able to see certain machines, that aren’t used as much, being operated when I need them. So it is a win-win for both sides.”

The moulding is designed with a 3D design package and then produced at FabLab Cardiff where blanks are made then vacuformed to create the moulds. The moulds are then used for the production of the hot chocolate, with further detailed work to get the flavours absolutely perfect.

Pips for Milk come in a variety of flavours, from classics such as milk and dark chocolate, to more exciting flavours such as fiery spice, cool raspberry, and chocolate korma. The coin block comes in a standard shape, however due to the cost effectiveness and freedom of using FabLab, Phil is able to offer customers custom shaped hot chocolate, including snowflakes for Christmas and hearts for Valentine’s Day.

Martijn Gommeren, manager for FabLab Cardiff, said: “FabLab Cardiff has played a great role in the production of the Real Hot Chocolate Co and we are proud to have been able to provide the space for Phil.

“We have supported a variety of businesses since FabLab’s inception. We are delighted to be able to offer small and big companies the opportunity to use high quality equipment at a fraction of the cost, and help turn their projects into a reality.” ​

For more information about the facilities available at FabLab, please visit: http://www.fablabcardiff.com/​