Have you ever wondered how random items around your house are made? The creation process of simple items might be more intricate than you ever imagined. Let's take cookie cutters as an example. You use them every now and then, but have you ever thought about how they are created? After all, they don't look very complicated to create: a certain shape, produced in batches and sold in shops.
Well, it might be a shock to hear, but cookie cutters are not the easiest to produce. Creating one single cookie cutter can take quite a while, as the processes are not always automated. It all depends on what the producer wants, how many details the shape includes, the material used, the available budget and so on. In this article, you will get to learn more about the cookie cutter journey: from how they are produced to how they are shipped.
Considering today's technological advancements, there are certain machines that can produce cookie cutters in large batches without much effort or interaction needed from a human employee. Even so, these automated machines can get quite expensive, and not all people can afford them, so they opt for semi-automated or manual machines instead. They might waste some time using one of the latter methods, but the product will be just as (or more) high-quality as in the case of automated machines. The fully manual process may result in lower quality products, depending on how much effort is put into it.
To put it simply, automated cookie cutter machines use an aluminum ribbon (or other metal material selected by the producer, such as copper) that is bent using several pistons. The pistons bend the aluminum ribbon around a mold. This mold is the shape of the cookie cutter itself. You can create one type of cookie cutter with one mold at a time. Creating the mold takes plenty of time alone, especially if the cookie cutter will contain many details. The pistons' clamps are created in such manner that they fit the shape of the mold perfectly, so that when they force push on the mold, they bend the aluminum ribbon without flaw. After bending the aluminum ribbon, the bent cookie cutter must take its final form by welding it. This is often done manually, but there are some machines that can handle welding as well.
Then, the finished cookie cutters are sterilized, cooled and packed. Once the cookie cutters are packed, they are shipped to you - the consumer - so you can start baking right away. Keep in mind that most cookie cutters come in packages of different shapes and sizes. Imagine how complicated the operation is in this case. Each cookie cutter shape requires a mold of its own, bending and welding for each piece, and then selecting one of each type and putting them in separate packaging bags. Yes, the process can be automated, but notice how complicated a process that initially looks simple is if you pay attention to technicalities.
As you may notice by now, the process of creating cookie cutters is not as easy as people imagine. It takes plenty of time, even in the case of automated machines. The mold is difficult to design, and every time the design of the cookie cutter changes, it involves changing both the mold and the pistons' clamps. Even the size selected for the cookie cutter would change the whole process.
One of the methods of creating a cookie cutter manually is by using a similar machine like the one described above. It also has pistons with customized clamps and a prefabricated mold, but a human employee is required to push all the pistons manually until the aluminum ribbon is bent in the desired shape. Moreover, the employee needs to handle the welding process manually, for each and every cookie cutter that was previously bent. Quite a lot, right? The entire cookie cutter bending and welding process can take from a few seconds to minutes, for designs that include more details, without counting the probability that some of the products resulted from it could turn into scrap because of small defects that may occur. Some producers still use this method to create their cookie cutters, and the results are amazing. No wonder why some cookie cutters are more expensive than others, given the material used, the details they include, as well as the effort and time involved in creating one.
There is one more way to make cookie cutters, but this method is not used as often any longer, especially because of how time-consuming it is and how much attention and effort it requires. This method is fully manual, and it requires a mold made out of wood. After creating the mold, the person who creates the cookie cutter must bend the aluminum ribbon with different tools, pressing it on the wooden mold with their own force. Of course, the finished product is not as clean and perfect as in the case of automated or semi-automated machines, but it still does its job pretty good. Creating one mold for producing one single cookie cutter shape would take forever, not to mention how burdensome the bending process would be by choosing this method. Luckily, technology evolved a lot during the past few years and people are no longer required to pay so much attention to detail and to spend a few good minutes on one cookie cutter only.
Next time you buy a cookie cutter, think how complex the process of creating one is in reality. One simple kitchen utensil that only helps people make their food look better takes some effort to create. Regardless of the method selected, a cookie cutter goes through challenging phases until it becomes what you use today effortlessly. When you want to purchase another cookie cutter in the future, keep in mind the steps involved in creating one shape and decide for yourself whether the price is worth it or not.