Product decoration unit – Innovation – FRITSCH Blog


A formative experience:

New Decorating Unit developed for creating baked goods in diverse patterns

Every day, they sell by the thousands – we are talking about Kaiser rolls, the immensely popular bread rolls with their characteristic pattern of five curved lines radiating out from the center of the roll to resemble a crown. Yet, oddly enough, only few experts are actively looking for the easiest, most accurate, and gentlest way possible of imprinting this pattern into the dough.

Dr.-Ing. Norman Butzek, Deputy Head of Research and Development at FRITSCH and his colleague Michael Gier, Deputy Head of the FRITSCH World of Bakery, tell the story of how they joined forces with a long-standing customer to develop the Product Decoration Unit (PDU).

A popular breakfast highlight: The Kaiser roll

A challenge for the customer & us

Making Kaiser rolls is easier said than done. As is well known, you eat with your eyes first, so retailers place great value on the dough quality and precise stamping of the characteristic pattern. The five lines should intersect as close to the true center as possible.

Eager to win a large contract as a Kaiser roll supplier, the customer turned to the specialists at FRITSCH. Rather than a classical style of Kaiser roll, the request for proposals specified a roll with irregular, relatively open pores in the crumb, following the trend towards baked goods of a more Mediterranean nature. Above all else, this would require the processing of relatively soft dough with long pre-proofing times. “Together, we developed the concept for how we could produce Kaiser rolls on our lines that meet the specifications of the RFP,” Dr. Butzek says.

Using a divider was not an option since it would have been too risky that the high mechanical forces would compress the dough structure past the point of no return, from which it could no longer relax again properly. The gentlest way to prepare such an especially soft and sensitive dough is in a dough sheeting process. Furthermore, because dough sheeting lines exert minimal mechanical forces on the dough, the processing steps can be performed in quicker succession.

The solution was developed together with the customer, who stayed in regular contact with the R&D Department and participated in many of the tests at the World of Bakery in Kitzingen. At the same time, new product ideas were developed along with the necessary tools.

„At FRITSCH, we adapt the machine to the customer’s desired dough, and not the other way round“

, Gier emphasizes the philosophy of FRITSCH.

The new Product Decoration Unit imprints dough pieces in any shapes and weights

A convincing solution

The pivotal idea came from a completely unexpected direction. There are times when a solution that works well in one application can serve as a good approach in another application. In this case, it was the robot from the Croissant Bending System, CBS, whose functional principle is now being used in modified form on the industrial IMPRESSA bread line. This has made the modular line even more flexible in terms of what it can produce. Based on the CBS robot technology, FRITSCH has developed an entirely new system: the Product Decoration Unit (PDU). It is now possible to cut or stamp patterns into the surface of products on the IMPRESSA bread line irrespective of their shape and weight.

As implemented in the croissant bender before it, camera-controlled alignment of the precision tools ensures the PDU operates with maximum precision. “The new decorating unit is guided to the position of the dough piece on the belt in order to imprint it,” Dr. Butzek explains the different functional principles of the two tools. “It took us about one year to develop the customer’s solution from the first discussions to the final machine. In addition to developing the tools, we modernized them in terms of their mechanics, control, and user interface,” Butzek relates. “And we are still providing support after installation and start of production in order to continue improving the line.”

Creative imprint of diverse & individual patterns

By combining the high-performance IMPRESSA bread line with the new Product Decoration Unit, industrial producers can now not only process firmer and fresh doughs, but also very gently process the softer, pre-proofed doughs that are so trendy. Furthermore, it is now possible to produce more than just round dough pieces, but also a multitude of shapes and to give these a great diversity of patterns. This includes of course the popular Kaiser rolls, which can be produced on the line in large quantities and in handcrafted quality. Even especially soft doughs such as rye doughs can be processed. These highly hydrated and pre-proofed doughs have the advantage of longer keeping times or longer shelf life of the baked goods. Given pre-proofing and low mechanical stressing of the dough on dough sheeting lines, the solution no longer needs any proofing cabinet for relaxation between the dough sheeting process and decoration.

„The bottom line for customers is one thing above all else: the higher product quality that comes with a higher dough yield can now be achieved economically on a large scale“

, Dr. Butzek asserts.

Decoration examples for Kaiser rolls and sun rolls || Further examples are double cross, football, star, triple cut etc.

Camera-controlled precision

The PDU system offers maximum flexibility when it comes to the shape and weight of the dough pieces. Whether classical Kaiser rolls, rye breakfast rolls, or products with individual company logos or the pattern of a football – producers have practically unlimited possibilities for decorating their products. “With our competence in dough technology at the World of Bakery  and using 3D printing, we can rapidly build and test new tools to see whether they deliver the desired results and whether the new product turns out the way the customer imagines it,” says Michael Gier. The new machine can imprint decorations into square, round, and even long-molded products. And it works for more than just molded breads; it will imprint patterns just as efficiently into stamped or cut pieces of dough.

A camera system accurately captures the position of the products to ensure the stamping or cutting tool runs directly to each product and applies the pattern exactly in the center. Its inbuilt height regulation also allows flexible imprinting depths on the products. The decorating unit acts as an autonomous unit, whereby interfaces and synchronization problems are not merely reduced but rather avoided entirely. This is thanks to its camera system, which lets the PDU run independently of the speed of upstream components, thus minimizing rejects. The system also runs at impressively high capacity: decorations can be cut or pressed into the surface of the product at speeds of up to 65 cycles per minute. On large-scale lines, that means approximately 50,000 rolls can be produced per hour.



Irrespective of whether you would like to produce baguettes, ciabatta bread or speciality rolls, the IMPRESSA bread line offers the production of large quantities of artisan bread products to be produced economically and efficiently. The IMPRESSA bread line has been specially developed to process soft doughs. The developed SoftProcessing Technology by FRITSCH avoids unnecessary tension & compression in all process steps. This ensures that spongy dough remains spongy. 


FRITSCH World of Bakery

The World of Bakery offers a fully-equipped, 4,600 m² baking center to our customers. FRITSCH's complete line and machine programme is naturally at your service – from the smallest ROLLFIX to the industrial production lines from the FRITSCH IMPRESSA programme. This means baking technology at its best. This is how the WoB, coupled with the expertise and passion of its employees, offers our customers the best possible support.


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