Introduction: Pancake Mod - Screen Printing / Laser Etching Pancakes

About: Bilal Ghalib is interested in doing things that surprise him and inspire others. Let's create a future we want to live in together.
Pancakes... Delicious pancakes. Imagine sitting around the kitchen table enjoying a tasty stack of pancakes? Nice, no? Well now imagine them personalized with any image you can create. Personalized pancakes are the future of pancake eating technology.

I've been interested in pancake personalization for a while and have devised a few methods:
  • Pancake Laser Etching
  • Pancake Stenciling
  • Pancake Screen Printing.

Of all these methods, the screen printing worked the best. But judge for yourselves, this video shows the creation, silkscreening and sharing of cakes:

Step 1: Laser Etching Pancakes

I briefly entertained the idea of laser etching pancakes but quickly found that it was not a suitable preposition. The taste of burning batter and the residue left from previous plastics was a major turn off. Still the resolution and contrast is unparalleled with the other techniques so this is a quick run down on how to laser etch your pancakes.

  • Design your image to be purely black and white
  • Resize it to make sure it fits within a 4" circle
  • Make some pancakes larger than 4"
  • Insert them into the laser engraver on top of a paper plate
  • Refocus the laser so the beam head is almost touching the cake
  • Set the power levels way down, you're only going to want to slightly toast the pancake.
  • Send the file and let it print

Here are the results of my pancake etching:

Step 2: Spray Paint Stenciling Pancakes

Billy was leaving for Japan. So we wanted to do something to commemorate his departure so we made him some pancakes titled "Billy Cakes". This time we didn't have the aid of a laser cutter to help us out so we had to come up with an alternative. Here's what we did:

Prepare the stencil
  • We typed out "Billy Cakes" in a stenciled font
  • Printed it out on to bristol board, a heavy paper
  • Cut out all the black areas with an Exacto knife

Make the spray sauce
  • Pour 3 tablespoons of chocolate sauce into a clean empty spray bottle
  • Add a tablespoon of water
  • Spray into a trash can whlie adjusting the pressure nozzle till the sauce comes out in a fine stream.

Print the cakes
  • Lay the stencil over the pancake where you want the print
  • Spray from a few feet away to lightly coat the pancake under the stencil

Serve the cakes

That is all. A good method, but not the best. Let's get on with what really works:

Step 3: Proper Pancake Printing, Materials List

To properly, and safely, print personalized pancakes you should silkscreen them. This is not a very expensive process, nor overly complicated. Even if you haven't silkscreened before, don't worry, I'll walk you through it.

Things you'll need:
  • Screen
  • Photoemulsion
  • Squeegee
  • 2x Transparency with design on it
  • Halogen Bulb / A sunny day
  • Chocolate Sauce
  • Pancakes

Next we prepare the screen.

Step 4: Preparing the Pancake Screen

First you'll need a screen, you can get a craft one from a hobby store. I like using my alluminum frames from because if I accidently rip the screen I can just replace the mesh.

  • Wash the screen completely with any degreasing soap. Dish soap works well.
  • Let the screen dry
  • Take the screen to a dark room and lean it up against the wall so the side of the screen that touches the pancakes faces you.
  • Place your squeegee against the bottom of the screen and pour some emulsion on it
  • With a slow steady hand run the emulsion up the screen creating a film.
  • Flip the screen over and run the still emulsion laden squeegee up against that side.
  • Lay the screen face down (with the part that touches the pancakes facing down) on top of two pieces of wood so it doesn't touch the floor.
  • (optional) run a fan in the room so it dries quicker. Remember the room should be very dark.

Step 5: Expose Your Screen

Now comes the magical part of silkscreening, the exposure part. If you do any sort of photography this part will seem familiar.

First you will need to get your film ready:
  • Design a 3.5-4.5" black and white image, I've attached mine as a PDF and gif if you liked them.
  • Take your to design to kinkos as a PDF and ask them to print it out on a color transparency as black. They should understand this, if not, ask the manager.
  • Cut the border off of one of the transparencies and place it on top of the other.
  • Align both designs and them tape the edges together
  • Place the design on the back of the screen (the part that touches the pancake) BACKWARD, so the text looks backward.
  • Place the on top of a box with some padding on top
  • Take a piece of glass and lay it on the transparencies to hold them flat against the emulsion
  • Shine 1000 Watts of halogen light for approximately 25 mins from 3 feet away
  • On a sunny day, leave the screen outside in the light for 5 mins.
  • Take it to a large sink, or hose and wash off the underexposed emulsion:

Step 6: Make Some Topping

It's always tastier when you have your own syrup and it's really easy to make:

  • Take some strawberries
  • Chop them up into thin quartered slices
  • Put some water in a pan with 1/2 cup of sugar
  • Once it starts bubbling (not too much of a boil) add the strawberries
  • Remove from flame once it starts bubbling

Too much cooking will make the strawberries discolored and ugly, but it will still taste good. If you leave it on just long enough people will really be able to tell that they are fresh, and it will be most excellent.

Step 7: Print Some Pancakes

You first need to make some pancakes. But once you've accomplished that awesome task you can rush forth and conquer all!

First be sure to flip your pancake as soon as possible, this keeps the pancake color lighter so the chocolate sauce will have more contrast. Take the pancake fresh from the pan and set it down on something clean large and flat. We had a nice chunck of plyboo around the office that I used. Set the screen so the design you want to print lays directly over the center of the pancake. You should be able to see the outlines once you touch down. Now all you have to do is pour some chocolate sauce on top and pull the squeegee across. You don't want to push too hard or your print will come out thin try leaving a nice thin even layer of chocolate sauce. Pull the screen up and the pancake should fall, printed and ready for consumption.

Step 8: Share the Personalized Pancakes

Your pancakes are personalized for a reason. Give them to people who will appreciate them most. The pancakes I made had a "We Accept Pancurrency" joke on them, which I hope people at the office appreciated.

That is all, I hope you've gained something from this instructable. Remember, the new economy favors personalization and there are more and more manufacturing techniques that enable this. Go and make someone feel special today!