4 Axis CNC Foam Cutter Sports A Unistrut Frame

CNC Foam Cutters are capable of cutting out some pretty cool shapes that would otherwise be extremely difficult to do. They do this by pulling a heated metal wire though a block of foam. Electrical current passing through the wire heats it up causing the foam to melt away, there is no dust and no mess to clean up. [batchelc] decided to make his own large-scale CNC Foam Cutter and took a lot of photos along the way.

Since machine is 4 axis, meaning both sides can move forward/back and up/down independently of each other, tapered shapes are possible. One example where this would be helpful is cutting wings that are swept or have different profiles at each end.

DIY foam cutter made from Uni-Strut.

The main frame of the machine is made from Unistrut and measures a whopping 60 by 60 inches. Subtract the size of the mechanical components and the cutting area ends up being 48 by 42 and 22 inches high. The foam sits on an MDF bed, gravity is the only method of holding the foam down during cutting. The wire doesn’t actually touch the foam so there is no force applied to cause it to move. The hot wire moves slowly and melts the foam just a few thousands of an inch in front of the wire resulting in no contact between the two.

Both axes on each side are driven by 1/2-10″ lead screws supported by bearing blocks on both sides. The longitudinal axes smoothly traverse the length of the machine by means of skate bearings that ride on the Unistrut channel itself. The vertical axes have a plastic bushing that slides along a round shaft.

The control portion of the machine is a HobbyCC FoamPro kit that came with the 4 axis stepper motor control board and 4 NEMA 23 stepper motors. GMFC software is used to both generate the g-code and send the commands to the stepper motor control board.

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Not Having The Room Isn’t A Good Reason To Not Have A CNC Router Anymore

PhlatPrinter CNC Machine

Typically, CNC Machines take up a larger footprint than that of the raw material it is cutting. The size of such a machine may have prevented interested makers/hackers from buying or building one for themselves. If you are one of those people then you’d be interested in [Fly3DMon’s] series of CNC Router projects called PhlatPrinter.

A typical CNC Router has a bed that the work piece is mounted to and that work piece stays stationary. The tool then moves in 3 axes, removing material, leaving behind a finished part. The PhlatPrinter works more like a large format plotter, where the work piece is moved back and forth via rollers while the tool only moves in 2 directions. What this allows is a CNC Machine that takes up very little floor space when not in use that can handle any length of material!

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Recovering Nichrome Wire from Unexpected Sources

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Don’t you hate it when you’re in a pinch and all your favorite surplus or electronic stores are closed? You’ve gotta finish this project, but how? He’s a nice real hack for you guys.  How to recover nichrome wire from a ceramic heater!

Necessity spawned this idea, as [Armilar] needed to make 45 cuts in two pieces of foam in order to ship some long circuit boards. Not wanting to make the 90 cuts individually, he improvised this nichrome slicing jig. Not having a spool of nichrome handy, he decided to use a less conventional method. He pulled out a sledgehammer and smashed open a ceramic wirewound resistor.

According to him, nice big ceramic resistors like this 10W one have about a meter of nichrome wire inside!  After breaking the ceramic, it’s quite easy to remove. He made up a jig using nylon spacers and rivets, and then wrapped his wire back and forth across the whole length. It worked perfectly — though he was using 240VDC @ about 1.2A…

If you don’t need such a complex setup, there’s always the bare bones wire foam cutters we’ve featured many times before.

DIY Foam Cutter Makes it Too Easy

Cutting foam is pretty tricky without a hot wire cutter. Don’t have one? Well, lucky for you, [Darcy Whyte] has a guide on how to make one. It takes just over an hour to build, and it costs next to nothing in supplies!

[Darcy] is using an old 9V power wart that he had lying around, but you can probably use any DC power supply. He designed the frame in SketchUp and cut it out with his CNC router, although a saw will work just as well for MDF. A piece of 40 gauge nickel chromium wire was strung taught between two 1/4-20 bolts, with one held back by a spring. The spring acts as a safeguard to prevent snapping the wire during overly aggressive cuts. This may be a simple build, but it does produce a handy tool.

[Darcy] demonstrates cutting foam with his creation in a video after the break. We think he could cut thin plastic with it as well—modify your 3D prints, anyone?—though he may need to crank up the voltage a bit.

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