The Tetra Pak® Decoration Depositing unit is an innovation that sets a new standard for ice cream decoration. Portfolio manager Elsebeth Baungaard and mechanical engineer Mai Hestbek give us a full rundown of the solution.
When creating ice cream stick decoration designs today, the options are limited. Ice cream portfolio manager Elsebeth Baungaard explains:
“The designs of today aren’t particularly sophisticated. The reason is the production equipment that’s been available up until now. Traditionally, you have needed one decoration nozzle for every desired decoration pattern, and your possibilities to adjust have been very limited. But now, that all changes. With our new Tetra Pak® Decoration Depositing unit, producers can create numerous different patterns, sizes and designs with the same nozzles.”
In short, the Tetra Pak® Decoration Depositing unit is a solution that revolutionises ice cream design. It works more or less like a printer, where you load the design you want and the nozzles deposit compound accordingly. It can still be used for very simple designs, but it now also provides producers with much more advanced options.
“What we’re delivering here is a completely new toolbox for creative people in the ice cream industry,” says Elsebeth.
The idea started to take shape a couple of years ago, when Elsebeth realised that the baking industry used more – much more – advanced decorations than what was seen on ice cream. She was impressed by attractive designs on various cakes, donuts and biscuits. Could the method used by cake manufacturers be adapted to ice cream ... ? Well, yes. And here we are. With a game-changing solution that opens up for countless possibilities.
Yes, how does the technology actually work? Mai Hestbek works as a mechanical engineer here at Tetra Pak.
“We have a flow of material, which could be chocolate compound, ripple or caramel, to a print head. We program or upload a pattern to the system, and then we print that pattern with the material on the ice cream. We have complete control over the nozzles in the print head, and we can open and close these nozzles extremely fast. This enables us to make these beautiful patterns. So that's just ... well, that's just never been seen before in ice cream production.”
“And there’s more to it than just decoration,” adds Elsebeth. “There are chocolate-coated products on the market today that do have caramel or sauce inside. But they require a really complex production process. There’s more product waste, and it’s a substantial investment. With our new solution, you can add texture, you can play with flavours and layers – and you can do it in a more robust way, and without having to invest heavily. Many customers tell us that they are looking at creating products with layers. We definitely see a trend there. And here we have an excellent, cost-efficient alternative for producing just that – layered ice cream products.”
New taste and texture experience at your fingertips, in other words. For example, just imagine a vanilla ice cream with an amarena sauce dipped in a premium chocolate. Delicious!
The best way for ice cream producers to test and realise their product ideas is to visit our PDC (Product Development Centre) in Aarhus, Denmark. Here, customers can try and fine-tune their concepts to perfection – and, of course, get training in the Tetra Pak® Decoration Depositing unit software.
“This is an advanced technology, and creating a nice-looking pattern is an iterative and complex process. So it really makes sense for a customer to come to us to get started. We have the expertise, and also the facilities, to help them out,” says Mai.
One example of the complexity of getting things right: when droplets of chocolate compound hit the ice cream, they should be hot enough to flow together in the right way – and at the same time, cold enough to not flow together where they shouldn’t. Finding the right parameters may be tricky to get right the first time. You need to test.
“It is actually not just about creating a pattern, it’s making process research,” says Elsebeth. “The design combined with the desired decoration material, the temperature, the pressure settings – all those things that together give the right product appearance. When customers come to our PDC, where we have all equipment, they can see all the possibilities and get a true feel of the great potential the solution has.”
The sky’s the limit?
“This is just the start of our journey with this technology. We haven’t explored its full potential and all the possibilities yet, but we look forward to doing so together with our customers. When it comes to patterns, they are usually more creative than we are,” smiles Elsebeth.
So the unit is cost-efficient, it sets creative minds free – and installation is straightforward, too. The equipment can easily be added to existing lines. The unit consists of a suspension construction that holds the printer heads, plus a pump unit on the side. In total, it occupies about two metres on the worktable. And while we’re at it, here’s another couple of benefits: the Tetra Pak® Depositing Decoration unit is precise, and reduces waste.
“The depositing is like a drop-on-demand functionality. We define when to drop and where to drop. And it’s done with very high repeatability, in exactly the same place every time. That means customers not only control the pattern in an excellent way – as there are virtually no deviations, they are also in complete control of material consumption,” says Elsebeth.
Many different patterns can be stored in each printer head. This enables fast changeovers. As mentioned above, switching between different designs used to require a fair amount of time-consuming, manual nozzle adjustments. With the Tetra Pak® Depositing Decoration unit, it becomes a matter of changing the pattern dial on the screen from one to two.
“With this technology, producers will be able to put something completely new and different on the ice cream boards you see outside stores. They’ll make ice cream they really will want to show off,” concludes Mai.
Want to learn more or discuss your ice cream ideas with us?