posts tagged with the keyword ‘cookies’

2013.05.16

3D Printed Cookie Cutters

You loved Printing Violations, and you tolerated Printing Violations (Part II), so we’re back again with another episode of Printing Violations, this time looking more closely at the health issues surrounding 3D printed cookie cutters.

Licensing issues are one thing, but there is a safety concern with 3D printed cookie cutters. Here’s a look at some of the issues. (All assume you are using a home 3D printer like a MakerBot, RepRap, Printrbot, etc.)

Is ABS or PLA plastic filament food-safe?
The answers range from “probably not” to “maybe” in most cases. If you use natural filament it will be free of coloring agents, which is a step in the right direction, but unless you are specifically buying “food-safe filament” don’t expect it to be food-safe. (Keep in mind that “food-safe” is something that will be determined by local health departments, and will vary depending on where you live.)

Then there’s the printer itself, and the environment it runs in. My printer lives in a basement where I do other crazy things like run a drill press, spray glue and paint, and generally make a mess. Would you want your cookie cutter manufactured in such an environment? What has the filament come into contact with before it goes into the machine, and what else has been introduced into the extruder as far as foreign materials? If you’ve ever read up on what it takes to make food in your home and sell it commercially, you’ll have some idea of the restrictions involved. (Wait, we aren’t selling food, right? We’ll get to that, be patient!)

Can 3D printed items be treated to be safe(er?)
If you’ve ever looked at a 3D printed object, you may notice the ridges. Since it’s built up layer upon layer, there are spaces into which food could get stuck. Of course you can try to clean your 3D printed cookie cutter, but don’t put it in the dishwasher! For PLA prints, the heat will either melt it, or deform it, or do some other nasty thing to it. ABS may be better, but you will still need to heat it enough to sterilize it, and hope you can get the crevices clean. It’s been suggested that acetone vapor finishing might be helpful. Helpful enough? Not sure.

Of course you could use your printer to make a mold and then make a food-safe cutter out of another material, but that’s not really a 3D printed cookie cutter. You could also try to coat your printed piece with a food-safe coating, but that’s a lot more work.

So why does all this matter? Because right now, there are people printing cookie cutters and selling them, and there are also people 3D printing cookie cutters, making cookies with them, and selling the cookies.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I love cookies. OK, with that out of the way…)

As mentioned, selling food you make yourself is regulated in most areas, and if you want to start up a business baking in your kitchen and selling the goods, you’re in for a lot of work. I know, I know, it’s all in the name of safety for the public, but there’s a crap-ton of regulations and rules you’ll need to follow. Many places require you to have a kitchen physically separated from your home. As usual, I am not a lawyer, I’ve just done a bit of research. From a maker perspective, we just want to make things! From a public health perspective, let’s try not to make anyone sick, okay?

And yes, I have indeed used 3D printed cookie cutters to make cookies (at least twice) and then gave those cookies to people to eat. No one died yet (that I know of.) I didn’t attempt to re-use the cutters though, so they were a one-time use item, which is probably safer than trying to clean them.

Advice: If you’re going to 3D print cookie cutters, use them only once!

Let’s say you create custom 3D printed cookie cutters and sell them on Etsy or some other site, you should probably include a disclaimer that they should be used only once, since cleaning them is an issue. (Safer yet, tell people they are NOT food-safe, and let them decide if they want to use them. Again, I am no lawyer! Consult your own lawyer!)

Now, as for 3D printing cookie cutters, and then using them to make cookies and sell the cookies, well… This may be worse, since you’re selling actual food that has been created using materials that are questionable as far as being food-safe. Once again, I am no lawyer, but you may need one after selling those cookies.

In conclusion, be safe, people. Many folks are fine with the idea that a piece of ABS plastic touches cookie dough for a second or two before it’s baked at 450 degrees for 10 minutes, and others are convinced it’s insane to do such a thing. As with everything, there’s probably some middle ground.

Thanks for reading this, and keep making cookies!

(Big thanks to all the G+ers who helped me out with this. See the thread for more info.)

2012.12.23

Cookie Cutters

Back when I wrote my Printing Violations? post I brought up the issue of licensing, and while I am a believer of open culture and sharing, I’m still torn on the topic of artists who take the creative work of others (even if the “others” are huge corporations) and use it to make money.

When I saw the post Maker Mom Builds Cookie-Cutter Empire With 3-D Printers my first thought was about the rights and licensing issues. (I was then pleasantly surprised to see the comments addressing the issue right away.)

Cookie Cutters

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that Athey is not an artist, she’s a really good artist, and has some impressive and very well executed designs. This is important, I think. I mean, anyone can download an image of a video game character or a Dalek and quickly make it into something, but her work is well beyond that. Still, is it right for her to be using things others have created to make money? Her web site at warpzoneprints.com says:

Now I’ve somehow turned what started as a hobby into a full-time job!

I spend a lot of time thinking of myself as a terrible artist, and I’ve made plenty of badly drawn robots, but I’d feel much better about myself selling a badly drawn robot that is my own creation than a well drawn robot that someone else created. (I’m going with the belief that Athey has not properly licensed the characters she is using.)

Of course there’s the issue of licensing… It’s no secret that I use a lot of art from OpenClipArt.org to make things. The license of all art on OpenClipArt is Public Domain Dedication which states:

You can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.

So yeah, I’ve not sold anything I’ve made yet using art from OpenClipArt, but at least I’d feel fine doing it. And yeah, I have friends who make good money making things based on successful movies, games, books, etc. Maybe this is just the world we live in now, where everyone is a maker and selling of things, and it’s all just a big mash-up anyway.

I guess I’d break things into a few categories:

A.) Using things others have created to make things for yourself.

B.) Using things others have created to make things to give to family/friends as gifts.

C:) Using things others have created and creating design files that others can use.

D:) Using things others have created to create and sell things.

I’m all for A. and B., and I think C. is pretty much OK. (Think of the many items on Thingiverse) As for D., that’s the one I’m still not sure about, and that’s the one Athey and Warpzone Prints falls under. What do you think?

(I should probably do a post in the future that talks a bit more about my own usage of others work in my own art, as I’m not completely free of that behavior myself.)

2011.09.21

Pac-Man Cookies

You may have seen that I recently printed some Pac-Man cookie cutters using the MakerBot at Milwaukee Makerspace.

This seems like a harmless enough activity, right? I wanted some cookie cutters that my daughter could use to make cookies, so I made them. Typically when I make things, I don’t think to myself “Gosh, what laws am I breaking?” because typically I think of making as a creative endeavor that isn’t harmful to anyone.

But here’s where it gets murky…

If I really wanted Pac-Man cookie cutters, I could have bought them, from more than one place even, and those all come with something mine don’t. This little bit of text that says “Officially licensed Pac-Man cookie cutters.

Oh crap.

My cookie cutters are not “officially licensed” in any way. I certainly didn’t plan on selling them, as they were just for my own use. (That said, I have mentioned printing a few extras to give to people, free of charge, but would that cause issues as well?) Is the fact that I printed my own versus buying “officially licensed” cookie cutters the wrong thing to do? Did the company that licenses the official cutters lose a sale, or multiple sales if I give some away?

In my defense, I’ll say that I would not have bought Pac-Man cookie cutters. Partly because I’m not that fanatic, partly because I can’t see paying $15.99 for less than a dollar worth of plastic, and partly because I’m a maker. I mean, I could have bent up some metal to make them, or used some other creative methods.

So what does the future hold when we can easily (and cheaply!) print out things like this? Well, if you doubted 3D printing was disruptive, doubt it no more…

Let’s look at the Glif. Last November the guys behind the Glif launched a Kickstarter project to fund their idea. Here’s what they said:

So why do we need YOUR help? Simply put, manufacturing is expensive. We want to use a process called ‘injection molding’ to create the Glif at a level of quality we deem acceptable, but unfortunately this requires a hefty set up cost. By pledging at least twenty dollars, you will be essentially pre-ordering a Glif, and helping turn our little project into a reality.

See that bit that says “manufacturing is expensive“? Well, it is! But guess what? Making things can be cheap. I don’t want to discount the amount of work that went into designing the Glif. I love design. Design is important. Designers should be rewarded for their work. So the Glif guys wanted to raise $10,000 to bring their product to market, and they ended up raising $137,417. Wowzers!

But if you really want an iPhone holder like The Glif, you can always make your own, out of whatever materials you have handy, like wood, or maybe… plastic!

Hey, check this out, it’s the iPhone 4 Combo Tripod and Stand. See the comments on that page about “cloning” as well. Interesting stuff.

So what does the future hold for this type of thing? When we all have 3D printers, and it’s cheaper and easier to print something at home than it is to drive to the store (takes time, wastes gas) to buy one, or order one online to have shipped to your home (takes time, wastes gas.)

Maybe things should go the way the music industry went. Pirating music was a much larger problem years ago, until Apple (and then Amazon, and others) made it easier (and cheaper?) to get the real thing legitimately. What if the guys behind the Glif had a business model where you could buy their product in the traditional ways (in a store, order online) but you could also download the files needed to print one, for say, a nominal fee between $0.99 and $5.00?

Would people support this model? I think some people definitely would. And who is the winner here? The company still makes money, and the consumer saves money. Somewhere in there we also hope that less energy (money) is expended in using this method. Sure, there would still be clones and copies, but you’d assume (like we do for music, movies, etc.) that most people are honest, and want to support the work of others.

So is this idea crazy, or is it the future?

2011.09.19

Cookie Cutters

Since I’ve been playing with the MakerBot at the Milwaukee Makerspace, I figured that I should print something useful, and what’s more useful than cookie cutters!

I got the idea from the GuruBlog CookieCutter-Editor. I ended up making the Pac-Man shape, which is the exact opposite of complicated. (Yeah, I’m saying it’s really simple.) I really just did the Pac-Man shape as a test, and after I posted it, Alex asked about the ghosts, so at that point I figured I had a bit more work to do…

Since I’m still dabbling in 3D modeling, and haven’t really nailed down a workflow yet, I decided to try something besides the CookieCutter-Editor. I ended up drawing the ghost in Photoshop, and then bringing it into Inkscape to trace it. I then followed this Inkscape to OpenSCAD dxf tutorial to convert the SVG into a DXF file, which I then exported and brought into OpenSCAD to extrude into a 3D model.

Printed Cookie Cutters

The Pac-Man shape from the CookieCutter-Editor had a wider edge on one end, which is what a cookie cutter should have. (You can see this in the 3D wireframe in the top image.) The ghost shape does not have this wider edge, because I don’t know how to create one yet! I solved this issue by printing the shape with a raft, which you can see in the photo of the printed cutter. It’s not the prettiest cookie cutter, but it certainly did work.

Pac-Man Cookies

And here’s our final product, the Pac-Man (and ghosts) cookies! My oldest daughter Emma did the hard work here. She made the cookie dough, used the cutters, baked the cookies, and frosted them. I was basically the “Technical Advisor” and showed her what colors to use, etc. She wasn’t 100% pleased with the outcome, mainly because she had to tweak the coloring and improvise a bit (Pac-Man is actually lemon-flavored) but she’s a bit of a perfectionist in the kitchen. :)

We’ll probably make more of these for BarCampMilwaukee6, and may throw a few more shapes into the mix if I get a bit time with the MakerBot before then.

2010.10.21

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’ve never been sure about publishing recipes, I mean, who holds the rights? But since people keep saying to me “Hey dummy! You can’t copyright/trademark a recipe!” I’ve decided to start publishing them…

Here’s my recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (6 ounce) package chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.
  2. Grease baking sheets with canola spray.
  3. In a large mixing bowl cream 1/2 cup butter with sugar until fluffy. Stir in pumpkin, egg and vanilla.
  4. Sift dry ingredients together (flour through salt) in a bowl.
  5. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture, stirring well to combine.
  6. Stir in chocolate chips.
  7. Drop batter by spoonfuls on to baking sheets.
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until browned.
  9. Cool on rack.

These cookies do not flatten out like normal chocolate chip cookies. They stay sort of puffy. They’re almost like a cross between a cookie and a muffin. A cuffin? A mookie? I don’t know… I find them delicious though.

It should go without saying that you should use raw sugar (not processed!) and unbleached flour (not “enriched” or bleached!) and any other more natural/organic materials you can find. But it doesn’t. So I’m saying it.

Enjoy!

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