Hot Wire Ribbon Cutter Ceremoniously Heats Up Productivity

Anyone who’s ever cut ribbon, grosgrain or otherwise, may be dismayed by the frayed edge. There are methods of avoiding this, like cutting the ribbon diagonally, or double-diagonally into a forked point, or cutting it straight across and cauterizing the threads with a lighter. But if you have a thirteen dozen baker’s dozens’ worth of goodies to festoon, ain’t nobody got time for that.

[IgorM92] made this hot wire ribbon cutter for his wife, who has a yummy-looking baking business. It combines the cutting and the heat-sealing into a single step by using the heating element from an old soldering iron. If you don’t have one of those, you could just as easily use the nichrome wire from an old hair dryer, a toaster, or wire-wound resistor.

Since the idea is essentially shorting a power source to heat up a wire, it should be done safely. [IgorM92] used a phone charger to condition mains power down to 5 V. There isn’t much else to the circuit, just a rocker switch, a power-indicating LED, and its resistor, but this simple project will no doubt save a lot of time and labor. Burn past the break to watch it ramp up production.

Nichrome wire is good for cutting foam, too. Here’s a bare-bones version that can be made in minutes.

8 thoughts on “Hot Wire Ribbon Cutter Ceremoniously Heats Up Productivity

  1. Heh, I mistook the title for meaning the ribbon type hotwire that you find in toasters being used. I was hoping to see a system of tensioning it or restraining it, so it doesn’t swerve off course when you try to cut foam with it LOL

  2. I realize there are materials that are FIRE proof however they must be capable of being melted.

    Would this technique work for:
    Aramid cloth?
    Nomex cloth?
    Carbon Fiber cloth?
    Fiberglass cloth?

    I realize that wielding blankets are use to prevent slag from getting stuck to metal surfaces. (From what little I know)

    I rather be laughed at for dumb question while receiving good answers.

    I have to ask because this would REALLY cut down on the a.) The fraying of material b.) Lower the amount of floating particulate dust in the air.

    Thank you for your time and serious answers.

    1. I think you’ll need temperatures hotter than you get from a wire, unless you use some exotic/spendy wire and do it in a vacuum. Might wanna look into high power laser cutting instead, or water jets.

      1. I know applied sciences made a nice vid on a pressure washer with a very fine sand hopper. But it’s pretty much beyond the price point to make same with the laser cutter.

        Ultrasonic wire could probably work. I didn’t want to use a handsaw, belt grinder or band saw.

    2. For what its worth, not all things can be melted. For instance, wood and many plastics will decompose at high temperatures rather than melt. Some things have no liquid state at standard pressure, such as carbon dioxide.

      According to one internet source, fiberglass melts at 2075 Fahrenheit. “Red hot” wires will be somewhere in the range of 1000 to 1450 Fahrenheit. Nichrome wire, often used in heaters, has a melting point of about 2500 Fahrenheit. This suggests that you might be able to cut fiberglass with a very hot nichrome wire, but it might not be a practical solution.

    3. I don’t believe being fireproof means they must melt. They might burn at a higher temperature than their expected use (e.g. steel can burn, but is commonly used for fireproofing e.g. in ovens), or just decompose into other chemicals without burning.
      In the case of the fabrics you list, you’re probably best off cutting them with scissors, and hemming then well, perhaps with bias tape.

  3. Made a custom flag for a recumbent bike once. My wife suggested we place the thin nylon cloth material on a sheet of glass, lay a metal ruler down next to the line to cut, then follow the ruler edge with a hot soldering iron with a wedge tip. Worked amazingly well. Could cut curves just as easily. Cut the material better than scissors, and sealed (melted together) the fibers in the edge of the cut at the same time.

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