Often a novel product prompts a new look at equipment choices. Today, nothing is more novel than gluten-free baked foods, and this emerging category is changing minds about dividing. These applications usually don’t do well in piston-based systems, but extrusion dividers offer substantial possibilities.

“Continuous extrusion offers more flexibility in terms of the wider weight range and higher throughputs it can deliver,” said Cesar Zelaya, bakery technology manager for Handtmann Inc. “The shift has also come about because gluten-free dough performs better in an extrusion system than in a traditional piston divider due to the lack of structure and the stickiness of the dough.”

John McIsaac, vice-president, strategic business development for Reiser, agreed and added this move toward extrusion type is also because these dividers are becoming gentler on the product, a quality bakers are seeking. This and excellent weight control is what makes extrusion technology so versatile.

“We can produce crumb structures ranging from a tight white to a more open variety of bread with one divider,” he said.

Extrusion technology may provide a portioning option to bakers with gluten-free, but when it comes to conventional buns and rolls, traditional volumetric dividing is still the preferred method, said Richard Breeswine of Koenig Bakery Systems.

Cindy Chananie of Cinch Bakery Equipment agreed.

“When it comes to bagels, tortilla, Kaiser rolls or variety rolls, piston dividing technology is still the most popular,” she said.