Making 3D printed cookie cutters is something that many users want to learn how to do, but it doesn’t seem so simple at first. I decided to look into the best techniques on how to make 3D printed cookie cutters and share it with you guys.
To make 3D printed cookie cutters, you can easily download a cookie cutter design from Thingiverse or MyMiniFactory, then import the STL file to your slicer to create a 3D printable file. Once you create the file, you simply send the G-Code file to your filament 3D printer and 3D print the cookie cutters.
You can make some high quality cookie cutters by using certain techniques, so keep on reading through this article for some great tips.
Can You Make 3D Printed Cookie Cutters out of PLA?
Yes, you can make 3D printed cookie cutters out of PLA and is a great choice that many people are using. PLA has easy printability, comes from natural sources, and has a decent amount of flexibility and rigidity to make effective cookie cutters.
Other materials you could use for 3D printed cookie cutters is ABS & PETG. I wouldn’t recommend using a material like Nylon because it can absorb acids.
ABS works good for cold foods but not ideal for hotter foods, but people usually don’t recommend using ABS either because of the composition of the material.
One user made cookies with cookie cutters made out of PLA for his family and friends and it worked out very well. He did mention that it could be a good idea to use natural PLA since many types of PLA can have additives that aren’t necessarily food safe.
Here is a really cool Bulbasaur 3D printed cookie cutter made out of PLA.
Are 3D Printed Cookie Cutters Safe?
3D printed cookie cutters are generally safe due to the fact that they only come into contact with the dough for a short period. Additionally, the dough is baked thus killing all the remaining bacteria. Bacteria can build up in small crevices and gaps in the 3D printed cookie cutter if you try reusing it though.
There are some factors that you’ll want to consider in terms of safety when it comes to 3D printed cookie cutters though. Many 3D printed materials are food-safe as a plastic, but when we introduce the 3D printing layer-by-layer process, it can compromise safety.
The first thing to know is that a brass 3D printed nozzle may have trace heavy metals like lead that can transfer to a 3D printed object. Stainless steel nozzles are more appropriate for food safe 3D prints.
Another thing to know is whether your filament was branded as food-safe, as well as any filaments that were previously used on your 3D printed nozzle. If you’ve previously 3D printed non-safe filament on your 3D printer with the nozzle, you’ll want to swap it out for a fresh nozzle.
The next factor is how 3D printing leaves several small gaps, crevices and holes between your layers that are pretty much impossible to clean completely, and these are potential breeding grounds for bacteria.
A lot of filament is water-soluble, so if you end up washing your 3D printed cookie cutters, it could create a porous surface that allows bacteria to pass through. When using the cookie cutters on dough, the dough will get into those small spaces, and create a non-safe food environment.
The main way around this is to try to limit using your 3D printed cookie cutter just once and not reusing it after trying to wash it.
Some people have thought of ways to combat this though, doing things such as sealing the outer surface of the cookie cutter with a food-safe sealant like epoxy resin or polyurethane.
To improve the safety of your 3D printed cookie cutters, do the following:
- Try to use the 3D printed cookie cutters as a one-time item
- Use a stainless steel nozzle
- Seal your 3D prints with a food-safe sealant
- Use food-safe filament, ideally natural filament with no additives & FDA approved.
A tip that one user shared is potentially using cling film around your 3D printed cookie cutter or on the dough so it is never actually in contact with the dough itself. You can sand the edges of your cookie cutter so it doesn’t cut through the cling film.
This would work well for really basic designs, but for more complex designs, you’ll likely lose a lot of detail doing this.
How to Make 3D Printed Cookie Cutters
Making 3D printed cookie cutters is a fairly simple process that most people can successfully do with basic knowledge.
To make 3D printed cookie cutters, you’ll need a few basic things:
- A 3D printer
- A cookie cutter design
- Slicer software to process the file
Ideally, you want to have an FDM 3D printed when creating cookie cutters because they are more preferable with making these types of objects.
The build volume is larger, the materials are safer to use, and it’s easier to work with for beginners, though I’ve heard of some people making 3D printed cookie cutters with an SLA resin printer.
In terms of the cookie cutter design, you can either download a design that has already been made, or create your own design through CAD software. The easiest thing to do would be to download a cookie cutter design from Thingiverse (cookie cutter tag search) and import that into your slicer.
You have some really high quality designs such as:
- Christmas Cookie Cutter Collection
- Rudolph the Reindeer
- Superman Logo
- Peppa Pig
- Cute Llama
- Easter Bunny
- Christmas Bells
- Golden Snitch
- Heart Wings
Once you find a 3D printed cookie cutter design you like, you can simply download it and import the file to a slicer like Cura to create the G-Code file that your 3D printer understands.
You don’t need any special settings to create these cookie cutters, so you should be able to slice the model with your regular settings with a standard layer height of 0.2mm with a 0.4mm nozzle.
One user who did print Batman cookie cutters found there was a lot of stringing in his print due to a lot of travel movements. What he did to fix this was to reduce the number of walls to 2, optimize the printing order, then changing the “fill gaps between walls” setting to “Nowhere”
As previously mentioned, you’ll want to have a stainless steel nozzle, food safe filament, and if it’s not a one-use case, then spray it with a food-safe coating to seal the layers.
How to Design Your Own Custom 3D Printed Cookie Cutters
To design 3D printed cookie cutters, you can convert an image into an outline/sketch and create cookie cutters in a CAD software like Fusion 360. You can also use online tools like CookieCAD which allows you to create cookie cutters from basic shapes or imported photos.
If you want to design your own 3D printed cookie cutter, I’d recommend watching the video below.
In the video below, Jackie uses a different method which involves converting an image into an STL file, then importing that file into Cura to 3D print as usual. She uses a website called CookieCAD which allows you to turn artwork or pictures into cookie cutters.
You can also upload sketches that you have created to make a nice STL file that’s ready to 3D print.
One cool tip from someone who has experience with making cookie cutters mentioned that you can create a two-piece cookie cutter to make more complex cookie designs.
You’ll create an outer shape and then an inner shape that you can stamp on the cookie, perfect for making intricate and unique cookies. What he does is uses a CAD program like Fusion 360 to create the STL file, along with Inkscape to create the image.
He uses a photo, an online stencil converter, uses software to trace the outlines along with the details of the face, then saving the resulting design as an STL file to 3D print.
Best Slicer Settings for 3D Printed Cookie Cutters
The slicer settings for cookie cutters are generally pretty simple and you should be able to create fantastic cookie cutters using standard settings.
There are some slicer settings that can improve your cookie cutter design, so I decided to put some information together to help.
The settings we’ll look at will be:
- Layer Height
- Wall Thickness
- Infill Density
- Nozzle & Bed Temperature
- Printing Speed
The layer height setting determines the thickness of each layer your 3D printer prints. The larger the layer height, the faster it will be to print your object, but the lesser the amount of detail it will have.
A standard layer height of 0.2mm works well for 3D printed cookie cutters. Generally, people choose to layer heights anywhere between 0.1mm to 0.3mm depending on how detailed the cookie cutter design is.
For cookie cutters with intricate designs and fine details, you’ll want a smaller layer height like 0.12mm, while simple and basic cookie cutters can print successfully with a 0.3mm layer height on a 0.4mm nozzle.
Every printed object has an outer wall which is referred to as the Shell. The printer begins its operation from the shell before going to the infill.
It greatly influences how strong your object will be. The thicker the shell, the stronger your object will be. However, complicated designs don’t need thick shells. For cookie cutters, the default .8 mm should work just fine.
The only thing you may want to change is the Bottom Pattern Initial Layer which can be set to Lines. This improves the adhesion of your 3D printed cookie cutters to the heated bed.
Infill percentage is the quantity of material that will go into the shell of the 3D printed object. It is usually expressed as a percentage. A 100% infill means that all the spaces within the shell will be filled up.
Since the cookie cutters are going to be hollow and will be used to cut dough which is soft, you can leave the infill percentage at the standard 20%.
Nozzle & Bed Temperature
Your nozzle and bed temperature will depend on what material you are using. For a standard PLA filament, nozzle temperature usually varies between 180-220°C, and a bed temperature of 40-60°C.
You can test different temperatures to see what works best for surface quality and bed adhesion. After some testing, one user found that a nozzle temperature of 210°C and a bed temperature of 55°C worked best for their particular filament for 3D printed cookie cutters.
Next is the print speed. This is the rate of travel of the print head while it extrudes the filament.
You can use a standard print speed of 50mm/s for your 3D printed cookie cutters successfully. There are recommendations to use print speeds of 40-45mm/s to improve the quality, so I’d try out lower speeds to see if it makes a significant difference.
Using a high print speed like 70mm/s can definitely negatively affect the output of your 3D printed cookie cutters, so check that you aren’t using printing speeds that are above 60mm/s or so.
When the print head has to shift to a different position on the printing plane, it slightly pulls the filament back in, this is called retraction. This prevents strings of the material from getting all over the place.
Retraction settings for 3D printed cookie cutters usually depend on your filament and your 3D printer setup. The default settings in Cura of 5mm for Retraction Distance & 45mm/s for Retraction Speed is a great starting point to see if it stops stringing.
If you still experience stringing with the default settings, I’d recommend increasing your Retraction Distance and lowering your Retraction Speed. 3D printers with a Bowden setup require high retraction settings, while Direct Drive setups can do with lower retraction settings.
You can print a Retraction Tower directly from Cura to test the effects of retraction settings on your print quality. Check out the video below by CHEP to do this.
Similarly, in the “Travel” settings which include retraction settings, you also want to look at the “Combing Mode” and change that to “All” so the nozzle doesn’t hit any walls as it is travelling on the inside of the model.
The video below gives a nice visual example of a user going through his cookie cutter settings that works nicely.
How Much Does it Cost to 3D Print a Cookie Cutter?
3D printed cookie cutters use around 15-25 grams of filament, so you could make 40-66 cookie cutters with 1KG of PLA or PETG filament. With an average price of $20 per KG of filament, each cookie cutter would cost between $0.30 and $0.50. A 3D printed Superman cookie cutter costs $0.34, using 17g of filament.