There is good news for amateur bakers of cakes, muffins and pastries made in extravagant shapes and small and medium-sized baking businesses. Molds will cease to be a problem if the system designed by a University of Cordoba Belmez Polytechnic School research group progresses. This system manufactures non-stick food molds at a low cost.
To date, this manufacturing was only done at specialized factories, equipped with huge presses and dies, that made these molds by means of deep drawing. Once shaped, the molds had to get their non-stick coating at a different site. This process is only cost-effective when thousands of identical molds are made, which makes it an insurmountable obstacle for small businesses.
Based on this casuistry, the University of Cordoba Manufacturing Department research group developed a new technique to manufacture these pieces at a machining center, thus completely changing the normal process. This alternative method makes molds from metal sheets covered with non-stick coating. Though this process is slower, it is more affordable and easy to use.
The new formula consists of simultaneously transforming a metal sheet covered in teflon (very resistant plastic material) and a PVC sheet. A punch with a rounded tip gradually shapes both sheets until the right shape is reached. The path of the punch is directed by a computer that determines the precise movements it makes.
This solution allows for shaping the metal sheet without damaging the non-stick coating at any point, since the non-stick coating is protected by the PVC sheet. In this way, the outcome is a totally functional mold, with the necessary shape and properties suited for demolding and proper cleaning.
This study has a “very visible short term” practical application, according to Pablo Romero, one of the authors of the recently published research article in Applied Sciences. Romero, a University of Cordoba researcher, explains that it “allows for making molds easily in small batches.” Romero considers this new system to have important socio-economic repercussions since “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.”
This study carried out at the University of Cordoba is an incentive for companies in the food sector since they will be able to use this technique to manufacture small batches of non-stick molds in cheaper and faster way. In order to develop this new system, the Manufacturing Department at the University had the support of the University of Cordoba’s Internal Research Plan and collaborated with Tecnimacor, a company specializing in the application of non-stick coatings.
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