Fixing (Not Entirely) My vintage gelato machine

Design Food

My love for gelato started during my holidays in Italy. Italian gelato is lighter than ice cream because it has less cream. During my travels, I made it a point to visit special gelaterias, often choosing classics like pistachio gelato made with the finest pistachios from Bronte in Sicily, or experimenting with unique flavors such as Ciacco‘s unforgettable black chickpea sorbet. In recent years, the quality of gelato in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, has significantly improved, but it still doesn’t match the best Italian gelaterias.

Inspired by my experiences, I decided to make my own gelato. While making gelato isn’t difficult, it requires some knowledge. A great starting point is “Il mondo del gelato” by Robert Lobrano. Although the book is in Italian, translating the recipes isn’t too challenging. Additionally, you’ll need a gelato maker, preferably one with its own cooling system.

I have a vintage Magimix Turbine à Glace, but unfortunately, the rotary blade recently broke. Being an older model from the eighties, finding a replacement part was impossible. Faced with the decision to buy a new machine or attempt a repair, I chose to fix it.

Designing a new rotary blade was not easy, as I don’t have a degree in 3D drawing. However, I managed to design a part that fit the Magimix Turbine à Glace perfectly after four iterations.

I printed the part in PETG, a material generally considered food safe. However, I hesitated to use it for making gelato due to potential toxicity from the filament’s coloring. Consequently, I decided to have the part printed in food-safe Nylon by the Chinese company in3dtec, using the SLS method. This method can result in a rough surface, so I requested post-processing through sanding and polishing. After two weeks, the part arrived and fit almost perfectly, requiring only minor sanding of the inside of the upper part for a perfect fit.

Excited for a test run, I decided to use inexpensive ingredients. I experimented with a faux pistachio gelato by using pumpkin seed paste instead of hazelnut paste in Roberto Lobrano’s hazelnut gelato recipe. The result was a rich, creamy gelato, and the new part worked flawlessly!

But there remains a major issue. While the new nylon part fits perfectly, its surface is still a bit rough, which can harbor bacteria and mold. Food-safe parts need to be completely smooth. Although food-safe coatings could solve this, finding the right one is challenging without guaranteed safety. Therefore, I’ve decided to retire this machine and purchase a new one.

Even though I encountered some obstacles, it was still fun to design the machine part and see it work. I will continue my journey into making tasty gelato at home and look forward to continuing with a new machine.

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