Nanotech

Freshly baked cupcakes. / Photo by: Rachel Kramer Bussel via Flickr

 

When making cupcakes, muffins, and pastries, food molds are necessary to create the impressive forms and shapes of these treats. At the University of Cordoba Manufacturing Department, a team of researchers developed a new technique that could lower the cost of producing food molds.

The current technique in manufacturing food molds require huge presses and forming dies. In specialized factories, these components are applied for deep drawing, a sheet metal forming process. The process involves a sheet metal blank radially drawn into a forming die through the mechanical effect of a punch. After shaping, the molds are sent to a different location for the non-stick coating. But this technique is only cost-effective in producing thousands of identical molds, a project not many small businesses do.

So researchers at the University of Cordoba developed a viable alternative process for small businesses. The alternative technique involves the simultaneous transformation of metal sheets into materials covered with Teflon and a PVC sheet. The punch has a rounded tip that slowly shapes the sheets, while the path of the punch is controlled by a computer to determine the precise movements.

Metal sheets produced using the new technique were shaped into desirable forms without having the non-stick coating damaged at any point. Compared to the traditional molding technique, the alternative can be done in a machining center without sending them to another site for the coating process.

"It allows for making molds easily in small batches. It opens the door to new start-ups that manufacture molds for small and medium-sized companies and to any already existing factory to widen the scope of its business with this new kind of manufacturing, focused on coating flat sheets and later shaping them at a low cost," said Pablo Romero, an author of the study.

The major downside about the new technique mentioned by the researchers is its slower speed rate than standard methods, reported by Phys.org.