Saturday, 31 December 2016

IT Kitchen: 3D Printer .... Get Baking

A 3D printer cannot mass produce but is ideal for making individual customised things. However, a 3D printer can make parts that can be part of a mass production process. 3D printers can be used as tool makers making tools such as moulds, dies, stamps and cutters which are used in a manufacturing process.

In the IT kitchen we used a 3D printer as a tool maker - making cutters for cookies. 

Cooking has been affected by industrial mass production and consumerism so that for many cooking has been reduced to buying a packet .. a ready made meal we open, heat up and eat. However, cooking from ingredients is a DIY activity but taken for granted and overlooked as a maker activity. Cooking is one of the oldest, most useful and most enjoyable of maker activities.

In today's IT kitchen we combine one of the oldest maker activities (Cooking) with one of the newest (3D printing) - using a 3D printer to make the cutters used to shape our cookies.

The 3D printing

You may not have something to hand and may need to buy it on-line for delivery or pop down the shops to buy it, One of the benefits of having a 3D printer is being able to make something on demand - either from 3D designs shared openly by others or by using 3D modelling software to design things ourselves. Even better, 3D printing can be used to make unique or customised items - things that you cannot buy ready made.

We collected some cookie cutter designs shared openly on Thingiverse and printed a small selection - star, gingerbread person, snowman, Christmas tree, Easter bunny, heart, and a butterfly. We used the slicer software for our 3D printer to adjust the size of each cutter, increased the depth of the heart cutter and rotated and laid the gingerbread man design flat on the plate so that it would print properly.

We used PLA filament in the kitchen - its safer, bio-degradable and sustainable - being made with plant materials. 

Cookie cutters are such a good thing to print - they are a good size and print quickly being all outline rather than solid.

The Cooking
* 1 egg
* 100g soft brown sugar
* 100g butter
* 200g self raising flour (plain flour is fine but self raising helps the cookies rise up just a little bit which is nice)

* Preheat an oven to 180 degrees or gas mark 4.

* Get ready a baking tray .. I find a non stick tray is fine.

* Put the flour and butter into a bowl and mix together using your fingers until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. 

* Sprinkle in the sugar and continue mixing with your fingers until it is all mixed up well looking like sugary breadcrumbs.

* Add the egg and knead the mixture until you get a dough - a thick elastic like paste.

* Take the dough out of the bowl, place it onto a work surface and roll out flat to the thickness of the biscuits you want - about 5mm is good.

* Use the cookie cutters to press out shapes in the dough - press into the dough all the way through to the work surface. Wiggle the cutter a little to get a good separation from the rest of the dough and lift up the cutter - the cookie dough should stay inside the cutter. Move over to a baking tray and gently push the cookie dough out of the cookie cutter onto the baking tray.

* Place the baking tray in the centre of an oven and bake until golden brown - about 12 minutes at 180 degrees or gas mark 4.

* Remove the baking tray from the oven and leave the cookies to cool for about 2 minutes then ...... enjoy :)

Unfortunately the heart, snowman & xmas tree are missing .... I ate them :)
There we have it - delicious cookies made by hand, cut with the help of a 3D printer and baked with another piece of technology we take for granted - an oven.

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