For many years, polymer clay artists have repurposed classic pasta machines to mix, condition, and sheet their polymer clay. While there are many knock-offs and “cheap stuff from China” imitations of the classic design, the most often recommended roller is the Marcato Atlas, a machine from Italy. Aside from minor design changes in 2007 (when they came out with the Wellness model), the design has remained the same for many decades. That’s all changed now. The Atlas pasta machines have a new design with blades that can be easily removed for cleaning.
What Has Changed?
There have been TWO changes to the latest Marcato Atlas model.
- Removable Blade
- Improved Handle Attachment – BEWARE – This could mean your motor will not fit! – Keep reading for more info.
First, About My Machine
You’ll notice that my machine has a fun blue ombre effect and an acrylic base with my logo etched into it. This is not a standard feature of the new Atlas Pasta Machine. My machine has been powder-coated by Ed Street of Ed’s Colors. Using your choice of colors, Ed coats a new Atlas pasta machine with a powder-coated (baked-on) finish and gives it a new base.
While my machine is blue and has an acrylic base, the blades are just like you’ll find in the new Atlas model. I want to be clear, the new blades are standard on all new Atlas pasta machines. And now, let me tell you about the new changes to the Marcato Atlas pasta machine.
Note: The new machines are also available in 150 and 180 models, just like before. That number merely refers to the width of the roller, nothing else.
New Atlas Removable Blades
Pasta machines (both the nice ones from Italy and the knock-off clones from China) have long had blades that could not be removed without disassembling the machine. Small bits of clay would collect behind the blades, causing the blades to warp or cause streaks of “pasta machine poop” to come out on your fresh sheets of clay. Previously, the only way to have easily removable blades was to have your machine modified by Mona Kissel to have special removable blades installed. Until recently, Ed Street collaborated with the Kissels to provide this same “monafied” modification on his colorful machines.
The new Atlas blades are made from black plastic that does not seem to be affected by polymer clay. Each machine has two double-sided blades. Each of the machine’s two rollers has a double-sided blade underneath it. You can easily remove the blades by sliding a rod to the side. The blades are identical and interchangeable. There’s no worry about switching them.
To remove the blades, just reach under the machine with your thumbs, feel for the metal rod, and slide it to one side or the other. Once it falls free, you can take it out and also remove the blades. Repeat for the other blade on the second roller.
Wipe the blades clean with a paper towel or rag, and then replace them by reversing the steps. It’s very easy if you turn the machine over and can see what you are doing. With some practice, I suspect that I could learn to do it quickly by feel. It’s not difficult to do, it’s just fiddly.
Below, you can see the underside of the rollers with both blades removed. The round holes are the holes which the rods slide into. You’ll find the same round holes on the other side, too.
Do The New Blades Work Better?
Yeah, I think they do. I still do want to take the blades off and clean them between very different colors and especially when using white. I’d also want to clean the blades after using clay with glitter in it. But it does seem that these new blades collect less clay and run more smoothly than my previous Atlas, at least when using polymer clay. But I’m just one person. It will be interesting to see how this new design holds up and works over time.
About the New Handle
If you have one of these pasta machines or the “clay machine” knock-offs, you know about the handle. It doesn’t stay. It falls out, goes CLUNK onto the floor, and wakes the cat and dog. So annoying. You’d think they would fix that. Well, they did! The new Atlas pasta machine design includes a new handle. It looks much the same and works the same way. But look at the part that goes into the machine. See?
Marcato has changed the design of the handle so that it inserts more deeply into the end of the roller. This makes the handle stay where it’s supposed to be while still being able to be removed for storage. You’ll know that your machine has a new style handle if there’s a long smooth section after the nubbed part.
But I want to be super super clear here. The handles are NOT interchangeable. The new handles WILL NOT FIT into the old Atlas machines and vice versa. Up until now, handles from most clay machines and pasta machines were interchangeable. If you are in the habit of keeping a pile of old handles in a drawer, you will now need to make note of which handle goes with which pasta machine.
Old Motors Won’t Fit
With the new handle, Marcato also changed the hole that the handle will fit into. At first glance, the holes are the same. But if you look closely, the new design looks different inside the main hole. Here’s what I mean:
This means that the new redesigned Atlas pasta machines CANNOT use the old Pasta Drive motors. If you have an old motor, you cannot use it in the new machine. Yes, there is also a new design for the Pasta Drive motor. For the time being, however, the two different designs will be on the market at the same time. Until old stock is depleted, you may end up with a motor or Atlas machine that cannot fit to one another. (New to motors? Here’s more info.)
The new motors will fit the old machines, however.
But That’s Not All
As if this wasn’t confusing enough, during this transition, some of the new Atlas pasta machines were made with new blades and the old handle design. In fact, my beautiful blue machine has the new blades but the old motor. Ed tells me that new machines are only just now coming with the new handles (though he’s had the new blades since late 2022.) But Karolina from Hobbyrian in Sweden tells me that her stock of Atlas pasta machines has had both the new blades and new holes all along.
Bottom line, before buying a new Atlas pasta machine or a new Pasta Drive motor, check with the seller to determine which design it actually is. Because it really does matter.
Get Your Old Machine Modified
What if you have an old Atlas that doesn’t have the removable blades? You can contact Mona Kissel to have it modified to have removable blades. She may also have some remaining stock of modified old design machines. If you have an old motor and want to get another old design machine, this may be the best path forward for you. Talk to Mona.
Mona Kissel got in touch with me and shared this info:
Thank you for posting about the atlas scraper blade design change. We have been working with these since December. We do have a large supply of the original machines in both sizes in stock.
Rainer has created a modification to the rods of these new machines, to make them even easier to remove and reinstall. We have a small supply of the newer ones in stock.-Mona Kissel
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Where to Buy the New Atlas?
Atlas pasta machines are designed to roll sheets of pasta to make noodles. So kitchen supply places are the best. Amazon has them as well. But since you won’t know if they are selling old or new stock, it’s best if you can either talk to the seller or open the box and look yourself.
If you want a colored machine like mine, go to Ed’s Colors.