The Guide: Making Lake Tahoe In 3D Chocolate

Wondering how we make our Lake Tahoe 3D Chocolate Mountains? Awesome technology is behind this Tahoe Treat. Check out the process below! Feel free to email us at with any questions.

  1. The Elevation Data
  2. 3D Print Iterations
  3. Create A Mold Of Your Print
  4. Temper And Pour Chocolate Into Your Mold
  5. Package And Enjoy!

The Elevation Data

Step one is to obtain your elevation data. At Terra Mano we utilize both open source and commercial datasets. A common place to find data is the NationalMap.Gov website.

What you'll get is a greyscale heightmap. The lighter color represents higher elevation.

With this data you can input it into your favorite Geographic Information System (GIS) Software to obtain a 3D model that can then be tweaked to your liking.

What comes out is a model ready to be 3D printed

3D Print Prototypes

You never really quite know how something is going to feel when you're looking at it on the computer. We need to go through test prints, or iterations, in order to see what the final product is going to be like.

High quality 3D printing can be expensive, so we start with low-quality 3D prints to judge size and shape. Below are two FDM prints we tried before printing a high-quality version.


We did a CNC version for fun as well, although, it did not give us the look and feel we wanted.

Once we have the size, shape, and area that we want, we make a higher quality 3D print via SLA 3D printing technology. Due to the white resin, it's difficult to see the detail, but it looks amazing when molded.

Create A Mold Of Your Print

Next step is to create a mold of your print. For small batch production, we use a food-grade silicone mold. For larger quantities, we'll use many molds made of plastic that have been formed from the master.

The picture below shows the mold while curing. We like to use Smooth Sil 940. This process takes 24 hours. We have two prints for different applications, here's a side by side shot.

Temper And Pour Chocolate Into Your Mold

Before you can pour the chocolate into a mold, it must be tempered. This is when you have a high ratio of the preferred type of chocolate crystals (Type #5). Here's a fun video of how to temper chocolate.

Here's a picture of the mold before the chocolate goes in

Package And Enjoy

The final step is to let the chocolate cool and harden. Once ready, you can package it up and enjoy. These chocolate mountains make the perfect gift for the mountain lover in your heart.

Want to learn more about Terra Mano or 3D Printed Maps? Check out our Ultimate guide on 3D Maps.