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How to CNC machine molds for cookies

Molds for character "Fun cakes".

DeskProto user Domas Systems in the Netherlands (website in Dutch) produces specialty machines, including production machinery for food and sweets. One of their successful new developments is a production line for baking "Fun cakes": cake characters with a filling inside. These bakery machines are commercially available via their partner Cake Concepts in Amsterdam (website in English).

Two fun cakes: one whole and one cut in two halves
The Fun cakes that are created, with the sweet filling clearly visible.

This gallery page zooms in on one element of such production line: the molds in which these cakes are baked. These need to be custom made, as for every character of course a different mold (or rather set of molds) is needed. Domas designs these molds using the Spaceclaim 3D CAD software, and when ready exports the geometry to an STL file.

Screenshot of a cake mold in DeskProto
One mold halve in DeskProto, showing the first roughing operation for the cavity.

The DeskProto screenshot above shows one mold halve: for the front side of a fun cake, with roughing toolpaths for a 10 mm diameter 'bull nose' cutter. The blanks to be machined are cast brass parts: the outer shape of the mold is already present and only the cavity and the closing surface need to be machined. Several operations for roughing, finishing and detailing are needed, using several different cutters.

A Fun cake mold, machined in brass
The resulting Fun cake mold.

Machining is done in-house by Domas, on a Doosan DNM 500 II three-axis vertical machining center with Automatic ToolChanger. The final finishing operation has been done using a 3 mm diameter ballnose cutter.

The first series of brass molds have been completely cast, including the cavity. You can see these cast molds in the image below. As producing molds in such small series was quite expensive, Domas choose CNC machining as alternative. Besides cheaper this also makes the process much quicker (in-house machining versus subcontracting an external metal foundry). In addition the resulting character shapes are more crisp. Calculating toolpaths in DeskProto proved to be a very easy step as Domas can use a template project.

Automated baking machine
A Fun cake baking machine for small-scale production.

The photo above shows a production machine for Fun cakes (in demo-mode). The most important steps in the process are clearly visible: left the filling station for dough, next the station for the sweet inside filling, and right the station where the molds are closed. Other stations on this circular machine include baking, cooling, removing the cake and cleaning the mold.

Mold with 8 cavities, filled with dough
Eightfold mold in a fully automated production line

Domas already has delivered several production lines for these Fun cakes, capable of producing up to 10,000 cakes per hour. The machine shown here, with an eightfold mold, can produce max 7,200 cakes per hour. All production steps described above are present, now fully automated. The image shows the situation where both mold halves have been filled with dough and the sweet filling (red) has just been added. Next steps will be closing the mold and baking the cakes by heating the mold from both sides.

The image above links to a video made by Domas, that shows the machine being constructed and when working: press the button to watch the video.

Two sets of packed fun cakes, ready for sale
The resulting Fun cakes, packed in sets of two: ready to be eaten.

The closed mold results in a cake shape with distinct features, far more clear than what can be achieved using an open baking mold. That advantage surely has contributed to a successful position on the market: Fun cakes now are being produced and sold in many countries around the world.