Seasonal 3D Printing – 3D Printed Cookie Cutters (Part 2)
As described in yesterday’s blog post, cookiecaster.com is a neat and free service to create your own cookie cutters within minutes. However, the creative options with Cookie Caster are a bit limited since the design are always based on extrusions of an outline. Inspired by some 3D printed cookie cutters I had seen on the internet, I wanted to design cookie cutters with reliefs.
The techniques described in this post are a bit more advanced and require some knowledge of 3D modeling software. No worries though, this step-by-step guide will show you how it is done.
Step 1 – Finding a motive to print
In line with the seasonal theme, I had the idea of creating a series of cookie cutters based on a common shape that could be imprinted with different motive reliefs (almost like the icons on an iPhone or iPad). Once more I used Fotolia to look for a file that would suit my needs. I ended up purchasing the below vector graphics which contained a nice set of Christmas motives, just right for what I had in mind: the squares with rounded edges would serve as the common shape and the different motives would serve as the reliefs to be imprinted into the dough.
Note: there is no need to buy vector graphics to create the cookie cutters as described in this tutorial. If you are skilled and have the right software you can draw the images yourself. In this case, I wanted to save time which is why I decided to buy rather then create the vector graphics.
Step 2 – Creating the 3D model
In a first step, I used Adobe Illustrator to isolate the icons by copying each one onto into a separate file. I then scaled the icons to make them easier to work with. Once scaled, I made sure to remove any lines or stray points that I may have copied over from the original file. With the design being cleaned up I then selected the entire drawing and grouped it before saving it as an *.ai file.
Note: grouping the design is critical. It took me several failed imports into Rhino before I figured out that the importing only worked when the design was grouped prior to saving and importing.
In a second step, I used the Rhino 3D modeling software to create the cookie cutters. You can use different 3D modeling packages to do this. But, as Rhino is able to import Illustrator files (*.ai file format) this eliminated any extra exporting/importing work.
In Rhino I created a new file, then used the Import/Merge command to import the Illustrator file.
I then selected the outline of the icon shape and by using the Offset command I duplicated the line with a 1.5mm offset to the outside of the original line.
Selecting both lines and using the Extrude Planar Curve command I created a solid shape with a height of 12mm. This extrusion step created the actual cutting part of the cookie cutter.
Next was the base of the stamp-like relief that would be used to imprint the motive into the dough. To create it, I made another copy of the original icon outline, this time with a 1mm offset to the inside of the original outline. This line was extruded into a 2mm thick solid base using the Extrude Planar Curve command.
I then selected the snowflake motive and extruded it into 4mm thick solid shape such that it would surpass the stamp base by 2mm (once again using the Extrude Planar Curve command). That step already completed the modeling of the cookie cutter. All in all, not a very complicated process but one which requires a bit of knowledge of 3D modeling packages.
Having tested the cookie cutters I ended up adding an additional feature, a handle which makes holding the relief stamp a lot easier. In Rhino, I simply drew a 25mm x 5mm rectangle and extruded it by 5mm (using the Box: Corner to Corner, Height command).
To print the cookie cutters and handles, I saved them in *.stl format with a medium to high polygonal mesh density.
Step 3 – Printing the cookie cutter & handles
Using Cura, I opened all the *.stl files for printing. As the dimensions corresponded to my expectations (44 x 44mm) there was no need for resizing. The 3D prints were straightforward, I didn’t encounter any major issues. The specs of the snowflake cookie cutter 3D print: 0.75m/5.90 gr of PLA filament, print time: 55 minutes.
Once the stamps with the reliefs and the handles were printed, I assembled them with a couple of drops of super glue. Et voila, the cookie cutters were ready for action!
Step 4 – Bake some cookies!
Using a simple recipe, I created about 500 grams of dough to test out the cookie cutters. I couldn’t wait to test out the different shapes! Cutting out the icon shapes from the dough worked ok but I was really pleased how well I could imprint the motives into the dough. The handles I added to each cookie cutter make this step really easy. All in all, I was able to fill three baking trays. After some 15 minutes of baking I was finally able to see the results. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves here.
Conclusion & Lessons Learned
Creating cookie cutters using the technique described in this blog post is not a very complicated process but one which requires a bit of knowledge of 3D modeling packages. I am far from being an expert in Rhino but with a little bit of trial and error and a few wasted prints I was able to get quite nice results. I was surprised to see how well the reliefs survived the baking since I had originally expected that the dough might my rise too much and erase the reliefs which turned out to be not the case.
Here are my lessons learned from the process:
- I played with wall thicknesses of 1.5 – 2.0 mm for the icon shape. These cut the dough ok but in hindsight I would choose a wall thickness of 1mm for even easier cutting of the dough. A 1mm wall thickness would then most probably require a slightly wider base for better overall stability of the cookie cutter. This could be added easily with two more copies of the original shape outline being extruded into a 2mm base.
- Depending on the relief motive you need to mirror it in order to get the expected outcome. Since I didn’t mirror it, the Santa sledge motive I printed ended up facing left rather than right.
- The motives came out pretty well in most cookies. However, for my next set of cookie cutters I will probably extrude the relief to 3 or 4mm rather than just 2mm as I did for this tutorial. Adding an extra millimeter or so gives you a bit more material to push into the dough thus making printing the reliefs easier.
What is nice with the relief icon type cookie cutters is that you can use any kind of motive to imprint into the dough. Given the season, I used Christmas motives but there is no reason why you couldn’t use other motives like pets, cars or even names and slogans. The possibilities are endless once you let your creativity run wild!
What do you think? Does this tutorial inspire you to try and create some cookie cutters with your own motives? I’d be happy to share your creations here on the blog!