6 reasons why laser cutting transformed the food industry

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Laser cutting is an interesting and diverse industry, more so than most people believe. We have previously covered the impact it has had on BAE Systems, but another industry that has been transformed, thanks to laser technology, is the food industry.

Although we eat a number of times throughout the day, the majority of us don’t consider the process that the food went through before winding up on our plates. However, businesses are utilising laser cutting technology for a variety of important jobs; whether it be manufacturing appliances, designing packaging or creating unique designs on food, the adaptability of this technology is almost limitless.

To demonstrate just how large an impact lasers have had on the food industry, we’ve detailed six reasons why laser cutting has transformed the food we know and love.

The ability to cope with high demand

It’s an obvious fact that every human being in the world needs to eat so they are able to function properly. For this reason, demand is always on the rise for suitable food processing machinery and the majority of this equipment is made from stainless steel.

The most used machines within this industry include food crushers, slicers, drum mixers and industrial filters to mention but a few. And as time is one of the most important things in the food industry, laser cutting facilities are able to work 24 hours a day to create these machines, a massive benefit we’re sure you’ll agree.

A number of companies are choosing fibre lasers due to how fast they’re able to cut materials, when compared to previous technology. Being able to increase plant production speed whilst requiring only minor maintenance means people can spend more time on other important tasks.

These types of laser are also more economical, something that is a key attribute for a society that’s so energy-efficiency conscious. With low running costs due to low power usage, it’s no wonder this type of technology has been introduced in so many different industries.

Being able to make items safe in post processing

One of the biggest challenges people within the food industry have to deal with is the post processing stage of any material. Although it may sound like an easy stage to deal with, it’s a completely separate process that ensures all equipment is safe to use. Sharp edges and overall cleanliness is something that is vital to be at a high standard, for legal reasons.

Previous techniques have often been inefficient and sometimes completely ineffective. It can be tough to fully remove sharp edges as products come in all different shapes and sizes, yet no matter what they are like, it’s vital they’re removed.

If this process is ignored, a number of issues can arise. It can cause an accumulation of dust, bacteria and other harmful materials that could ruin a company if they came to be mixed up in their food products, as they run the risk of their products causing food poisoning.

Laser cutting is able to create a cut that isn’t just precise but also clean, removing the need for a post processing stage. Prior to this change, the process was often the subject of numerous controversies. Locations have been closed down after an inspection due to the belief this stage can be skipped, which is one of the reasons laser machinery has been embraced so thoroughly.

Using food as a clever incentive

As smartphones have grown in popularity over the years, the introduction of QR codes (Quick Response Code), has been interesting for businesses. Restaurants and cafes all over the world have started to use laser cutting technology and QR codes to their advantage.

Thanks to Computer Aided Design (CAD), it’s possible to create any type of design that is inputted. QR codes are similar to barcodes in relation to how they are all unique patterns that hold information. A number of sushi restaurants have begun to include these codes on their product, linking users to information about their food and where it’s sourced from.

Not only does it offer a unique experience for diners, but it also allows them to know important information such as what country their food is from. Creating new and intuitive ways to stand out is always a good thing to do, and laser cutting has allowed this to be possible.

This has also been introduced in supermarkets across the UK. A growing number of companies are starting to introduce QR codes to their food packaging. People are choosing to only buy food and other items that are ethically sourced, and being able to find this information from a code makes it incredibly easy. As laser cutting can work 24 hours a day, shop owners are able to cope with the busy demand.

A unique way to cook

This is probably the most unconventional change laser cutting has introduced to the food industry. A new form of cooking has been created by Kentaro Fukuchi and his colleagues that work at Meiji University in Japan. They believe that laser cutters are destined to follow the destiny of 3D printers and end up in the home as an essential appliance.

However, Fukuchi hasn’t adapted a regular laser machine and has instead adopted an industry standard machine that normally engraves patterns into various materials including wood and plastic. Through the use of Computer Aided Design and a webcam, his team have created unique foods that can’t help but make our mouths water.

One of these dishes has been dubbed the “melt-fat raw bacon”. This incorporates a slice of uncooked bacon, which has its fat cooked by the laser machine. The webcam serves to guide the beam so the food can be cooked properly. According to Fukuchi, when this type of food is cooked this particular way, you can enjoy well cooked fat with the taste of fresh meat, something that normally has to be separated.

Although it may sound fairly basic at the moment, this is the first time laser cutting machines have been utilised in this way, so in the future we can expect to see even more adventurous foods being cooked this way.

A way to create sturdy kitchen utensils

Something that a lot of people take for granted is kitchen utensils. Whether it be a fork, knife, pot or pan, they are all essential for people in the food industry. Laser cutting has had that much of an impact in this industry that it’s now possible to purchase purpose-built kitchen utensil laser machines.

Like the machines made for the food industry, the safety levels of kitchen utensils have to be at the highest of standards. People expect their cutlery to be sturdy and reliable, and laser cutting can produce these items with a fast turn around to exact specifications.

When it comes to cooking and frying pans, materials can change for different uses. Often they can be hard to manufacture, which is why more businesses in the food industry are turning to laser cutting. Different lasers are able to deal with different material characteristics and thicknesses. It also gives a user the freedom to engrave unique designs to make them commemorative.

Introducing innovative packaging

When it comes to food, one of the most important things is how it’s presented. You could have the finest cut of tasty beef in front of you, but if effort hasn’t been put into it’s presentation people may be reluctant to eat it. Numerous businesses within the food industry, ranging from restaurants and takeaways, have started to use laser cutting to accomplish finer looking food.

A great example is Umino Hiroyuki who owns Umino Seaweed Shop. He paired up with an advertising agency to create unique laser cut seaweed for sushi. This was so effective that it helped fix the decline of seaweed consumption within Japan.

Bakeries have also found this technology useful. Luxuriously designed cupcake boxes and cases have been used in upmarket locations to reinforce their status. It has been so effective that it has even made it’s way onto wedding cakes throughout the country.

Chocolatiers Adore are also investing in laser technology. The top class chocolate makers like to stand out, and during special seasons they have a range of laser cut chocolate boxes that have interesting and beautiful designs. One of their favourites is the butterfly design, which makes a perfect gift for people that love art and chocolate.

Innovation in the laser cutting industry

As time goes on, more people are starting to realise that laser cutting is an effective tool that can be used in a number of industries. The food industry has completely changed, and it won’t be long until this type of manufacturing is embraced by other industries too.

You can be sure that Yorkshire Profiles will be the first to report on innovations and changes that laser cutting has provided businesses and other people with.

What do you think of this blog? Do you know of any other ways that laser cutting is used within the food industry? Let us know in the comment section below, or connect with us on Twitter: @YorksProfiles

Yorkshire Profiles Ltd

Yorkshire Profiles Ltd