I’m sorry, but I enjoy technology, and although I do not consider myself an expert, I am not intimidated to tackle it either. Thus, when my daughter and I started designing cookie sets to sell as a means to raise funds for charity, I decided to investigate the option of creating my own 3-D printed cookie cutters.
In the past, I have made plastic templates for hand cutting. ( Look here, for example.) However, that was when I only needed to hand cut one or two cookies of a particular unique shape. This time I wanted to cut a minimum of 24 spider webs of a particular size for a planned Halloween cookie set design. I already own a few 3-D printed cookie cutters which were purchased online, but at approximately $10.00 USD each, plus shipping, plus conversion to the lower valued Canadian currency, I figured the cost of ordering a custom designed 3-D printed cutter online would be too high.
😀 I was thrilled to discover that my local public library has a 3-D printer ( Makerbot Replicator 2 ) and charges $1.00 CDN per hour for printing. Some universities also have publicly available 3-D printers, but I live a loooong way away from any universities. After a brief online search, I came upon a free web-based software platform called Cookie Caster, that allows one to custom create a cookie cutter in .stl file format, which can then be “prepared” to print.
I already own a tinplate spider web cookie cutter, but it was larger than the size I wanted for this set. I traced the cutter on paper, scanned and then cropped the image just beyond the traced outline. I then opened the image in Word, and reduced it to my desired size. I then imported the image in Cookie Caster and created the outline of the cookie cutter. (Unfortunately, the “Magic Trace” feature of Cookie Caster does not appear to work.) The web site automatically turns the tracing into a 3-D image, with a standard depth of 6/8″ and a cutting edge that is 2 mm wide. I then exported the file, saved it on my hard drive, and emailed it to my “library computer guy” (who shall henceforth be referred to as “LCG”) who printed it for me. Voila! The next day I picked up my cookie cutter, and it only cost $2.00 CDN!!
The cutter worked well. The only issue was that, because it has a blunt edge, it left little wispy pieces of dough which I needed to pat down gently to create a smooth bottom edge. (I tend to decorate/flood the bottom surface of cookies as it is more level and therefore I get less flood icing running over the piped edge.)
Having had relative success with creating my first custom cutter 3-D model, I wanted to create other more complicated cutters, hopefully with a more precise cutting edge. Unfortunately, the Cookie Caster interface seemed too small/simplistic to handle the more complicated designs I was envisioning. My “LCG” suggested I try the free software, SketchUp, available online for download.
I downloaded and installed SketchUp 2015 . I found some useful YouTube Videos by a teacher named T Lewis, about creating a cookie cutter using this software. It took a little while to figure it out, but I managed to create a 3D model of a cutter. (Ok, it took me a couple of hours of playing with the software and watching YouTube videos to figure out how to do it.) After all that, it turns out that SketchUp does not have the built in capability to export in .stl format, which is a common 3-D file format, and the one I require for Makerbot. However, there exists an add-on software extension which must be downloaded separately and installed, but it does not do so automatically. I followed these instructions found on YouTube. I was successful and was able to export my 3-D model file to email to my “LCG”. I also downloaded a SketchUp Solid Inspector extension, which helps to locate areas on your 3-D model which need to be corrected….Here is a view of my simple plaque:
To troubleshoot the blunt cutting edge issue, I carefully examined one of the 3-D printed cutters that I previously purchased online, to see if I could model a sharper cutting edge than just a 2 mm wide line of plastic. (I don’t like to take the extra time to fix the wispy edges. I admit I am a bit of a perfectionist! 😀 )
A whole new avenue of cookie design has opened up for me! Stay tuned to see what I manage to create next…