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Tech by VICE

Video of Cake-Making Robots Reinforces My Love of Cake, Robots

Witness the Cartesian coordination of confections.

by Ben Richmond
Aug 22 2014, 6:30pm

Some people say that store-bought sweets lack the love of being made by, say, your mom, and are therefore inferior. Well, my mom lives pretty far away and works in a hospital and therefore has better things to do than bake for me and figure out the logistics of cake shipping, so I have to point out that I don't care about that. 

But now that I've seen the mechanics of robotic cake making, I realized that the love was there all along: my love, not only cakes, but for the beauty of mass-production.

I mean, yeah, I live in Brooklyn, and yeah, handcrafted, artisan, etc. There's certainly something to be said for crafting, especially for the crafter, and much more to be said about how mass production is so efficient that it, ironically enough, seems to lead to waste, and certainly, historically speaking anyway, to resources being consumed irresponsibly.

But it's like the interstate: uniformity and speed have their place, and for those like Kraftwerk who can see it, a certain beauty. As a commentator below Rain Noe's post on industrial cake-making on Core 77 mentioned, there's just something relaxing about watching something complicated coming into shape swiftly and easily.

That commentator is likely as grateful as I am that Unifiller has so many videos online of their products in motion—seriously this playlist is 77 videos long. Not all of them are as fun and pretty as cakes—I'd recommend against the meat-pie filling one, for instance—but there's enough for you to take your pick. The only way to improve upon them is setting them to Grieg or, again, Kraftwerk, but generic background music is easily muted.

Unifiller Systems is the company behind the single and multi-piston depositors that are frosting cakes at a pace that would send even the most industrious John Henry baker face first into the flour. 

The machines remind me a lot of Farmbot, a robot that, like CNC routers and 3D printers takes via x-y and z coordinates, to plant, care for, and harvest crops. It's mass-production techniques that are altered so easily—in this case with the wave of a pen, or for Farmbot with the click of a mouse—that "mass" isn't really necessary.

Icing cakes by the COM 1000i is a beautiful vision of human and machine working side by side for a noble purpose.

The musical choices under "Multi-piston depositors for bakery production" has a nice faux-hip-hop ominous quality, and the production is one of Unfiller's most ambitious. Also around 1:00, there's so many madelines being made at once that Swann's head would explode.

Okay, sure there's something kind of soulless about the whole endeavor, given that the cakes just say "Carrot," which isn't a loving nickname for me to my knowledge. But again, who cares? You go to a nice bakery and buy a nice cake made by one person in a totally non-factory-like setting and guess what? That baker doesn't love you either, probably. He or she is in it for the money. Get over it, and eat some damn cake.

If I want love, I'll just go for a drive in the Ford Taurus that my dad lovingly handcrafted for me from spruce, thank you very much.