I thought I'd put my two cents in here on enrobing since I never could find much info on the web, and now that I own an enrober, I'm sure other people will appreciate the input. I looked at LCM, Savvy, and Prefamac, JKV, and Mol d'art. The last three look pretty similar in all the photos. I decided on Prefamac after having seen them operating in a number of places, because it's a simple machine, fit my budget, and couldn't wait three or four months for the order to be filled, and they had good customer service, both from the US and Belgium. I ordered from bakonusa.com in the US and my equipment was ready within a month and airfreighted to Ecuador, where we are located. It was cheaper than ordering direct from Belgium.
We just purchased a Prefamac 30kg melter, enrober and detailer attachment. First, after using it a couple of weeks, I have to say I think enrobers and chocolatiers are a bit like cameras and photographers. The skill of the person using either is far more important than the equipment, the amount you paid, or the number of bells and whistles.
I'm in Ecuador, and I don't have access to many different chocolates with different viscosities and for different purposes. Basically, I have access to two or three types of chocolate, and I have to adjust them all myself using cocoa butter to thin. This has been a bit challenging to find just the right percent to add, but it's been an interesting learning experience as well to see how the chocolate changes shine and snap with different amounts of cocoa butter.
For the Prefamac, I have found the detailer attachment is a must. It's a little spinning rod at the end of the take off belt before the pieces hit the paper. You adjust it just right and the pieces sort of get lifted gently and carried over, while the spinning takes off excess chocolate, eliminating feet, and cuts off any tails. It took me about 1,000 pieces to figure out how to use it just right, as well as run the whole operation.
At first I couldn't figure out how to keep up with the fast speed of the belt, but it really didn't matter once we figured out you simply pull the paper taut when needed, just as the pieces are coming off the wire conveyor belt. Then you loosen up slack a bit until the next row of pieces is about to come off. So you don't waste paper by having a mechanical pull moving the paper all the time. Ideally, the paper belt and conveyor belt would have perhaps separate foot pedals for control, but those are some of the bells and whistles I wasn't willing to pay for, and my volume doesn't justify the costs. Yes, it really does take two people to operate this thing optimally.
The vibrating of the belt is adjusted by tightening or loosening a spring loaded arm that is under the belt shortly after the pieces are enrobed. There is also a blower attachment, but I haven't shelled out for that yet. Perhaps later.
A lot of people have asked about the chocolate thickening during the day, which it does, but is easily remedied by a couple of minutes with a heat gun or turning up the thermostat gently. I have found this to be a very minor inconvenience.
Production wise, we used to dip say 100 pieces an hour. I can easily put out say 1500 to 2000 pieces in an hour, so as the Savvy-Goiseau sale rep said to me, your volume should increase easily 10x-20x, which it has. Of course, right now the equipment (especially the enrober) is underutilized, but as I was wisely advised, buy a machine you will grow into in a year or two, not one that just meets your needs for the present.
And by the way, the vibrating table which is standard is great for molds! NO bubbles!
Chocolate Caramels Scored and Ready for Cutting
Me at the Machine
Chocolate Caramels Enrobed with Texture Sheets
Finished Pieces, Still would like cleaner squares on top, but they'll sell!
Edited by Marmalade, 17 June 2008 - 08:38 AM.