Wednesday, September 6, 2017

3D Printed packaging equipment

I always have several different odd projects going on, one of which is something I do not write about much here.  That is food and re-creating normally purchased food items at home.

Over the last couple years, thru trial and error, I have developed a hot sauce, chili oil, and gourmet vinegar recipes.

I use a lot of hot sauce in the house, and the gold standard is Tabasco, Franks, and some of the Mexican brands, depending on the food.

However living in SE Asia on a Island, presents itself with a bit of a difficulty in finding it at a reasonable price.  I can purchase local brands, but they are really low quality and consist of a lot of food coloring, corn starch, paprika, xanthan gum, sugar and chili powder.

So thru trial and error, I developed a recipe of hot sauce using 4 different chiles, vinegar, salt, and a couple other ingredients to get a near perfect replica of Tabasco.

Along the way, I also came up with a hot chile oil recipe as the store bought stuff is very expensive.

My vinegar was just a experiment as vinegar locally is very cheap, but its either super processed, without much flavor, or of uncertain quality and not known if produced in a sanitary facility.

I have a new project starting up that will bring in some money, and I am looking at diversifying things into making a gift pack of chili oil, vinegar, and hot sauce, in a nice laser engraved wood box and sell near where the local tourists go to Church.  There is a mall next door and quite frankly the quality of souvenirs is just shit.  So I was thinking of putting up a nice folksy wood mall kiosk with these fancy wood boxes and hot sauce.

The issue is the start up costs and packaging equipment.

I grew up working in the family food processing plant.  We usually did between 1/2 to one semi truck load of product a week and the production was semi automated.

So I got to thinking as to how I can build my own bottling machine using 3D printed parts.

It came to me that a perlistatic pump will work quite well if driven by a stepper motor.  

These little pumps are $75USD on Ali Express plus shipping or about $4 in plastic and $4 in roller bearings.

Combined with a Arduino 3D printer electronic kit ($35) I can create a g code to dispense a measured amount, control 2 heaters and I have 6 end stops all driven from a SD card and LCD screen.

What do you think?