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RLab has a Proxxon Thermocut 650 hand-held hot wire cutter.
The user manual for this can be found here.
A hot wire foam cutter is a device which utilizes the heat dissipated by a nichrome wire to melt foam evenly and in straight lines. Its applications include:
- Cutting padding for packaging and containers.
- Creating armatures for mache, laminate, and fiberglass.
- Cutting insulation to the correct size.
- Creating positives for metal casting or for silicone.
- Creating bulking for boffer weapons and other latex-on-foam objects.
- Sculpting foam for decorative use.
- Sculpting landscapes for model building.
- Cutting walls and structural aspects of architectural models.
- Making foam planes.
- Making prototypes.
This tool is accompanied by a range of jigs and hand tools (some electric, some not).
<Information about dimensions of particular one which is to be made>
|Built in mitre
|For adjusting angles on the Y-Z plane.
|A fence that sets the maximum distance the foam can move in the Y axis.
|A fence that sets the maximum distance the foam can move in the X axis, and an angle at which it can move on the X-Y plane.
|Guides the cutting of perfect circles and cones
Electric Hand Tools
The hot wire foam cutter has a plug on it that allows the use of electric nicrome hand tools.
|Bendable loop tool
|For cutting exact or random profiles into foam.
|When the tool is fully cooled, bend the wire to the desired shape.
|Taut cutting tool
|For cutting off chunks straight in one axis.
|Ensure wire is tight.
|For cutting large chunks that are straight in one axis,
|Wind wire to desired length, clip to the circuit.
|For more delicate designs such as writing and embelishments.
|Simply hold as you would a pen.
Non Electric Hand Tools
The tools in this list are nothing to do with the machine, but are used in foam crafting and so I've placed them on this wiki page. Feel free to move if I've made a mistake.
|These are used for cutting away material, particularly for rounding off or roughing.
|Select the size, length, density, and hardness based on what you want to do. For larger curves, use larger brushes (duh), for smoother curves use a higher density with a softer bristle.
|These are exclusively roughing tools and cannot be used to make precise curves. Can only really be used on crumbly foams.
|Vinyl carving knives
|As the name implies, these were originally invented for carving vinyl. As a result, they can only really be used on foams that aren't crumbly, but are excellent for defining more precise detail.
|To all intents and purposes, the shape of the tool is the shape of the cut it makes: a V shaped knife will cut a V shaped slot, a U shaped knife will cut a U shaped slot, etc.
|Soft sanding block
|Basically a sponge on a stick. Great for smoothing curves.
|Attach appropriate grit sandpaper, by turning screw on back.
|Used for quickly cutting away chunks
Types of foam
Below is a rough guide for foams, their uses, and at what temperature you must cut them:
|Cutting temperature / °C
|Number on dial
|210 - 249
|50 - 60
|105 - 115
|120 - 180
|Plastic coated foam board
|71 - 72
DO NOT CUT USING HEAT:
- ANY cellulose foam
- Expanded PVC
- Paper or PVC coated foam board
Also be wary of any foil coated foam. You may wish to cut away the foil prior to cutting.