Tools/HotWireFoamCutter

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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>

Jigs

Jig Functionality Usage
Built in mitre For adjusting angles on the Y-Z plane.
Y Fence A fence that sets the maximum distance the foam can move in the Y axis. .
Mitre Fence 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.
Circle Jig 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.

Tool Functionality Usage
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.
Cheese cutter For cutting large chunks that are straight in one axis, Wind wire to desired length, clip to the circuit.
Pen tool 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.

Tool Functionality Usage
Wire brushes 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.
Nail brushes These are exclusively roughing tools and cannot be used to make precise curves. Can only really be used on crumbly foams. NA
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.
Knife Used for quickly cutting away chunks NA

Types of foam

Below is a rough guide for foams, their uses, and at what temperature you must cut them:

Foam Use Cutting temperature / °C Number on dial
Polystyrene
  • Padding
  • Model landscapes
  • Metal casting positives
210 - 249 Example
Polyurethane
  • Insulation
  • Model landscapes
  • Props and decor
  • Forms for mache / fiberglass
50 - 60 Example
Polyethylene
  • Padding
105 - 115 Example
Crosslinked Polyethylene
  • Metal casting positives
  • Boffer weapons / armor
Latex foam
  • Upholstery
  • Padding
120 - 180
Plastic coated foam board
  • Architectural models
  • Model airplanes
Polyisocyanurate
  • Insulation
  • Model landscapes
  • Forms for mache / fiberglass
200
L200
  • Boffer weapons / armor
Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate
  • Padding
  • Boffer weapons / armor
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.