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laser cutting icing

Discussion in 'Design and technology' started by stanley20, Nov 8, 2011.

  1. Anyone tried it? Seen good results but tried and all to no avail.
  2. modelmaker

    modelmaker Star commenter

    Why would you want to? Have you considered the H&S apects of using a laser cutter that spends it time cutting MDF and the like, being used for food purposes with all the nasties they contain being dragged over your food by the extraction?
    Maybe you've been given funding for a laser cutter to be used exclusively for food technology? Don't make me laugh.
    This crops up every now and again, and it's usually sponsored by idiots trying to flog lasers who haven't a clue about the consequences.

  3. I am more than a little astonished at the first question. On a Design & Technology forum it is near to embarrassing to have to give a response.
    No, this is not from anyone trying to sell machinery but from a school that wants to find out how we can laser cut icing,
  4. littlemissraw

    littlemissraw Occasional commenter

    Maybe some bakeries do, have you tried calling around? Theres quite alot of them on TV programmes these days, maybe you could get in touch with a company that was on there? I'm sure there was a UK version but can only seem to find the American ones.
    There was a cake 'show' on at the NEC a few days ago. They had a cricut cutter demo. Maybe there may be a contact there for you? http://www.ichf.co.uk/cake/demonstrations.php ? x
  5. I admire your desire to try.
    However i do agree with others in terms of H&S issues. My best suggestion is to find some time to just keep testing with feed rates and power settings. I have been doing the same thing with mother of pearl for inlay work.
    For reference a couple of years ago Hobarts lasers were engraving chocolate logs at the DT show with a lot of success.
    KEEP experimenting.
  6. modelmaker

    modelmaker Star commenter

    So it's not from a school that can't see any point in either design or technology other than to make fancy icing. What on Earth do you think you're being employed to teach? Do you imagine fancy icing is the way forward for the economy?
    I'll tell you what, it's embarrassing to be a member of a teaching website where such a ridiculous matter would ever be discussesd.

  7. bigpedro

    bigpedro New commenter

    probably not, but its a good way to tick the cad-cam box in the NC (and some GCSE specs) from a food perspective.
    I'm also pretty sure that making wooden boxes and steady hand games won't drag the economy up either! (neither of which I do anymore)
    Fully agree with you on the H&S front though. Unless its a dedicated food dep't lazer cutter this is stupidity of the highest order.
  8. I am a Resistant/Graphic/ Product Design specialist and using the Laser cutter would be out of the question, especially if machine is used for all other areas. Examples of using CAD/CAM could be purchasing a printer purely for printing with edible inks. Students draw up a graphic and print it on edible paper. Ticks boxes and printers can be cheap to purchase.
  9. bigpedro

    bigpedro New commenter

    all paper is edible [​IMG]
  10. re

    re New commenter

    Health and safety issues aside, surely an intense laser beam would caramelise the edges of the icing sugar?
  11. janharper

    janharper Occasional commenter

    Why not go down the route of using edible printing ink on rice paper or flat sheets of icing. The program is free. You can use your own pictures and word art or the clip-art given with the program. I never had enough capitation to buy the printer, but pupils enjoyed designing and printing it off for their folders. You can buy everything needed from the Company. http://www.deco.uk.com/
  12. modelmaker

    modelmaker Star commenter

    Fundamentally incorrect. If this was the case, extraction would have no affect when engraving.
    That is the very reason to not even consider it. When you are burning through materials, you release chemicals and toxins and create microscopic particles of debris, some of which remain within the cabinet.
    But industry does not use lasers in this way. For a start, it would take far too long to produce compared to moulding or using a die. If you want to use a laser in conjuntion with food technology, why not use it to produce moulds or dies to be more representational of how food is produced commercially?

  13. You are engraving into sugar - that is what would be floating around at that time...some companies are using this technology and if all they are using it for are food items then what is the issue - particles of sugar? When experimenting you dont need to eat the finished product just demonstrate what could be achieved.
    Maybe they are looking specifically at caramalisation... What you can't do is criticise someone for experimenting - that is the backbone of our subject.
  14. modelmaker

    modelmaker Star commenter

    You're missing the point. It isn't about the sugar, it's about everything else the machine has been used to cut. Take a clean cloth and wipe the inside of the cabinet. Would you be prepared to lick what you wipe up? If you look carefully into the cabinet while the machine is cutting, you'll sometimes see particles being dislodged by the extraction and dragged across the path of the beam where they become rapidly heated and flicker briefly, well away from the area where the material is being cut.
    Prove there is no danger of any toxic material contaminating the food, and if you can't do that, it's not a process that's safe to use. I've seen laser cutters that are absolutely filthy in schools.
    Even if it was a process used in industry, unless they have a dedicated machine that was designed in a manner to make it easy to keep sterile, the FSA would condemn it on an inspection.
    You can if what they are experimenting with isn't safe and hasn't been properly researched to assess the risk.

  15. You really are missing the point. Its experimentation - DOES not mean the product would be eaten. If it goes well why can't a company buy one purely for this purpose?
    Its not your responsibility to judge what people or companies spend their money on.
  16. <font face="Times New Roman" size="3">

    </font><font size="2">I am a bit
    surprised at the negativity abounding, as I am sure benedict16 and zlgw are. </font>
    <font size="2">All we, at the school, want to do is
    to find out if we can do it. Said nothing about eating it, a cake was in the
    Summer exhibition at the RA, </font>www.rachelmount.com<font size="2">,
    is it to be eaten? ( and does it matter). We have tried cutting the icing that can be printed on (yes
    with edible inks) with some success but want to see if we can laser cut a made
    icing successfully. </font>

    <font size="2">Is it not right to think that design was about pushing at boundaries and not just
    acknowledging them and that technology was what helped us to achieve these endeavours.</font>
    <font size="2"> </font>
  17. modelmaker

    modelmaker Star commenter

    stanley, I'm not against pushing the boundaries, but there has to be a clear demarcation between artistic endeavour that serves no other purpose and the concept that laser processing food on a school laser cutter is either a means to teach industrial processes, which in this instance it isn't, and the fact that there are clearly teachers who will play, without thinking of the consequences.
    I can assure you that if I told you how to do it successfully folowing you OP, there'd be a wave of projects and SOW grabbing the chance of doing it with litle thought about the implications. You'd have schools handing out toxic cakes to parents on open day, just because it can be done.
    Of course you can laser cut icing if you know what you're doing, but really, what's the point? Are you teaching art or food technology?
  18. One of the most entertaining topics I have seen in years. Keep it coming!
    From a product design point of view the assessment benefits of doing this are negligable. There are so many other creative ways of using lasers to enhance food products, and especially cakes. Cut the shape templates out of acrylic and after sterilising roll sheet icing over the acrylic and the shapes should drop through - its effectively a die-cutting operation. I have also see lots of "decorative additions" cut from acrylic and spiked into the icing using the same principle as candles. These can be great for kids birthday cakes (AQA task 11) or as part of a kid's cookery kit (AQA task1).
    Have you considered engraving rubber stamps and using them to press patterns into icing? Works well on clay so cannot see a problem. Cleaning is always the big issue as it always is with all food related products. Apart from secondary packaging (AQA task 1,2, 5 10, 11 & 20) the very best use in my view is to make accurate formers which can be vacuum formed over using food grade PET to make trays for chocolate moulding (AQA task 17) and prepares the students brilliantly for that manufacturing in quanity in school question that has regularly featured in the written paper.
    Making card or polypropylene stencils to use when airbrushing food dies onto icing is also worth trying and does replicate industrial practices. I have seen pastry/biscuit cutters laser cut from acylic and layered to make effective die-cutting tools.

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