Custom 3D printed cookie cutters, from scratch
May 21, 2015 8:56 PM   Subscribe

I want to learn to design my own custom 3D printed cookie cutters. (Yes, I know there are shops and websites that can do all or part of the job, but I want to start from scratch.) What programs do I need? Where do I start?
posted by Soliloquy to Technology (6 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
SketchUp is easy for beginners to get to grips with, and here's a tutorial for exporting to a format 3D printers can use.
posted by quinndexter at 10:15 PM on May 21, 2015

2nd sketchup, I use it to teach 3d design to 6th graders. One issue I have with 3d printed cookie cutters is you can't clean then well, the lines between printed layers will hold onto your dough. Neither abs or pla are dishwasher safe, and hand washing won't get it all. I still make cookie cutouts I just don't use them more than one baking session.
posted by dstopps at 3:29 AM on May 22, 2015

I agree that SketchUp is a good tool for this. It's simple to start from a 2D image (the outline of your cookie cutter) and use the push-pull tool to "extrude" it along the 3rd dimension, to give you a printable object. This youtube video seems like a pretty good tutorial for making a cookie cutter in SketchUp. This one moves faster and assumes more knowledge of sketchup, but shows the use of symmetry and curve tools in making a cookie cutter.

...the lines between printed layers will hold onto your dough.

You and Soliloquy might want to try using acetone vapour to smooth the sides of your printed cutters. It might take a few attempts to get the timing right but, once set up, it's a quick and easy process that can leave a smooth, even glossy finish on printed objects. Cutters treated this way should be dramatically easier to clean.
posted by metaBugs at 7:02 AM on May 22, 2015

Is the goal designing and using your own cookie cutters? Or is it learning 2/3D design and manufacturing? Because it seems like it would be a lot easier and less expensive to just buy some stainless steel and pliers, bend it up into your outline and use food safe epoxy to close up the ends.
posted by bdc34 at 8:00 AM on May 22, 2015

Reynolds Advanced Materials sells a product to coat 3d printed things. However, check the data sheets for both the 3d printing filament and this epoxy if you use it and make sure it's all food safe.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:02 AM on May 22, 2015

I really dislike SketchUp myself, and found Autodesk Fusion 360 to be a lot more satisfying and less frustrating to use. It's commercial software but free for hobbyist use. (You literally just download the software and register it, and then you click an "I'm a hobbyist" checkbox and it goes from a 30-day demo to a non-time-limited license.)

But no reason why you can't download both and play around to decide which one you prefer.

Honestly, you don't really need to use a true 3D program for the majority of the design work to make something like cookie cutters, where all the complexity is in two dimensions and the third dimension is just going to be a straight extrusion out. You could do the heavy lifting in a dedicated 2D drawing program, like Inkscape or Illustrator (or AutoCAD, if you have access to it or are Scrooge McDuck wealthy), and then right before you go to do the 3D printing you could bring it into a 3D program and thicken/extrude it to the desired depth, add a top flange if desired, and export it to the printer's preferred format.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:09 PM on May 22, 2015

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