Cutting foam with your own hands. Foam Cutting Machine

Polyfoam is an inexpensive material from which craftsmen make a variety of products. It is very popular not only because of its cheapness, but also because of its ease of processing. Not everyone knows that it is not at all necessary to cut the foam with an ordinary knife. In this case, it will crumble very strongly and it will be simply impossible to make an even cut.

But this material melts very well, and from a relatively low temperature.

That is why the most convenient way to work with foam is cutting it with special cutters that rely on high temperatures. But cutting foam with your own hands is possible in other ways, which we will definitely consider.

What is foam and what is it used for

Cutting foam with your own hands. Foam Cutting Machine

Foam sheets

Styrofoam is a white material that consists almost entirely of air.

It is used for packaging equipment, food, as a heat-insulating and sound-insulating material, as a basis for making household items, logos and many other things. One of the main advantages of polystyrene is its cheapness . Many people buy it in order to make some kind of product from this material and sell it profitably. But even for an ordinary person, polystyrene will be very useful, because a lot of things for the house can be made from it. The main thing is to be able to work correctly with the material, as well as to choose it for specific purposes.

What material to choose for cutting

Before we start working with the material, we need to know what kind of foam is, what kind of it is best used for cutting at home ...

Non-pressed polystyrene

This is the most common and familiar to everyone polystyrene, which is familiar to us from packaging from technology. The material is a set of small white balls that are tightly attached to each other, but can be disconnected from mechanical stress.

It is he who is very widespread and is most often used in the manufacture of products at home.

Pressed polystyrene

This is a similar type of foam, which is simply additionally pressed. Because of this, it has a much denser structure, it is more difficult to crush it, but this material is also much more expensive than its unpressed counterpart. Due to the high price, extruded polystyrene foam is not widely used, but for some products it can definitely be used, since its structure is quite smooth.

Cutting foam with your own hands.</p><p> Foam Cutting Machine
Extruded polystyrene foam

Polyvinyl chloride foam

The rarest and most unused type of this material, which has one interesting property - the ability to self-extinguish when ignited. It does not emit hazardous substances, but if it does catch fire, then the smoke from it is very dangerous and can threaten health.

Prices for Styrofoam

Styrofoam

How to Cut Styrofoam Without Special Equipment

The first common question is what to do if you need to cut the foam, but constructing a special cutter is too difficult, expensive and useless. There is a way out, even several.

Cutting foam with your own hands. Foam Cutting Machine
Methods for cutting foam

Hacksaw for wood

Large teeth of the hacksaw allow for grip for foam granules and cut it quite effectively. To implement this method, you do not need to modify anything on your own, you just need to purchase or take a ready-made hacksaw for wood. In the same way, cutting can be carried out with a jigsaw, in this case it will be important to choose the right file for it.

Cutting foam with your own hands. Foam Cutting Machine
Saw on wood

But this method has not become widespread, since when using it, foam in any case, it will crumble, and it will not be possible to achieve a perfectly even cut. Also, if the tool is used carelessly, the stove can crack and all the work will go down the drain. Therefore, the following methods are almost always used to cut such a capricious material.

Cutting the material with a hot tool

You can use the most common knife to cut the foam sheet if you have prepared it for this procedure beforehand:

  1. Make sure the knife is longer than the thickness of the sheet to be cut.
  2. Next, you need to mark the lines on the sheet, along which it will have to be cut.
  3. The next step is to heat the knife with a gas stove or a special gas burner. With a hot knife, you need to carefully draw along the intended line, the foam will begin to melt and cut clearly along the line.

It is important to take into account that this method will not work to achieve a perfectly even cut, and it is also suitable only for cutting small pieces of material.

The fact is that even a little shaking hands will not allow you to achieve a straight line, and a constantly cooling knife will not allow you to make a neat and long cut.

But if your goal is to cut a small piece, then a red-hot knife will allow you to do it very quickly and without wasting money and time. Please note that after cutting, the knife should never be used in the kitchen or at home, as the foam contains toxic substances.

Cutting foam with your own hands. Foam Cutting Machine
Knife

Simple soldering iron cutter

If you need to do enough blanks made of foam, but you don't want to make a too complex cutter, you can use its simple analogue, which works on the basis of a conventional soldering iron.

It is important to choose a soldering iron that is not too powerful, as its temperature is excessive for normal sheet cutting. If the power is too high, then the foam will smoke, smoke, and cut badly.

The next step will be the selection and installation of the nozzle on the tip of the soldering iron, since the standard tip is not intended for this purpose.We need to find or make our own a long and flat tip that looks like a small knife blade, but less sharp.

Copper wire folded several times is good for making such an item. Another option is to simply take out the tip of the soldering iron and give it the desired look.

Next, the tip is firmly attached to the tip of the soldering iron and you can start cutting.

The soldering iron is inserted into an outlet, heats up and cuts the foam in a similar way to a hot knife. The main advantage of this method is that there is no need to constantly warm up the knife, the cutting can go on continuously.

Cutting foam with your own hands. Foam Cutting Machine
Soldering iron cutter

Special cutter for cutting foam

If you want to make foam products on a regular basis, and so that they turn out really smooth and well, then you have to make a special cutting machine that will allow you to do all this.

Special Foam Cutter Prices

Foam Cutter

There are many variations of this design that differ on the internet size, appearance, but they have the same essence. We will analyze one of the most popular and simple designs, which has proven itself well.

Table 1. Basic methods of cutting foam:

Cutting methods Benefits Disadvantages
Wood saw Simplicity and affordability Perfect cut cannot be achieved
With a hot knife Accessibility The knife cools down quickly
With a cutter from a soldering iron Not will cool down, so you can make long cuts It takes time to create
Homemade machine Allows you to make perfectly straight cuts Difficulty

Step-by-step instructions for making a cutter

First, you need to decide on the tools and materials that we need to create a cutter. The list of required materials includes:

  1. A sheet of chipboard or other solid base, approximately 600 by 400 millimeters . The size can be changed, it will depend on the size of the sheets with which you are going to work.
  2. Smooth wooden lath, about a meter long.

  3. Leg material: 4 plastic bottle corks, a piece of rail or other material.
  4. Nichrome wire, approximately 0 in diameter. 4 mm . You need about half a meter, but it is better to buy with a margin.
  5. Tension spring.

    It is in tension, not in compression. Such a spring cannot be found everywhere.

  6. 10-15 screws .
  7. Wires, crocodiles for fastening them.
  8. Computer power supplies and cable for it.

Now let's move on to the tools that we need to make and assemble the structure. These include:

  1. Drill or screwdriver;
  2. Jigsaw or hacksaw for wood;
  3. Screwdriver;
  4. Pliers ;
  5. Drill for the screw diameter.

Prices for popular models of drills

Drill

Video How to make a foam cutting machine with your own hands

Where to get nichrome wire

Cutting foam with your own hands. Foam Cutting Machine
Coils of nichrome wire

Nichrome wire is an integral part of the cutter, but not everyone knows what it is, and most importantly - where to get it.

Nichrome wire differs from ordinary wire in its strength and very high melting point. This is why it is best used to create a Styrofoam cutter.

This wire is used in irons, boilers and some other heating devices. In addition, it can be bought in electronics stores, markets.

Prices for nichrome wire

Nichrome wire

Power supply unit, its connection and setting

Our cutter will work from a regular computer power supply, which almost everyone has, but if it is not found, then it can be bought in any computer store, it is inexpensive.

Plug in the power cord and turn on the device. But the power supply will not turn on due to the peculiarities of its operation. In order for it to turn on you need:

  1. Find the largest connector that is intended for the motherboard.
  2. Prepare a small piece of regular wire or find a hairpin.
  3. Find a green wire there, there will be one.

  4. Now, with the help of a hairpin, you need to close the green wire with one of the black wires, no matter which one.

After these simple manipulations, the power supply unit will work.

Cutting foam with your own hands. Foam Cutting Machine
Computer power supply

It remains only to get the voltage we need in some way using the power supply .

.. To do this, you need to find a Molex connector, which is a connector with four holes, to which wires of different colors go.

The holes with the yellow and black wires must be connected to the wires, which will power the entire torch. This completes all the manipulations with the power supply, you can proceed to building the cutter itself.

Selecting the length of the wire

Before starting the manufacture of the machine itself for cutting foam, you need to calculate the length of nichrome wire, which will be enough for normal cutting of the material. To do this, you need:

  1. Take a long rail, screw it to it from both sides with a screw.
  2. A tension spring must be attached to one of the screws, which will also be used by us in the future.
  3. Pull the nichrome wire as far as possible. One end of it will be connected through a spring.

  4. Now you need to connect one wire from the power supply to the very end of the wire, which has no spring.
  5. The second wire does not need to be fixed tightly, we will move it. Depending on the position of the wire, the temperature of the wire will increase. The closer the two ends, the hotter it is. Thus, you need to find a position at which the temperature of the wire will be sufficient to cut the foam.

    Please note that if the wires are placed too close, the foam will burn, which will negatively affect the final quality of the product.

Next, you need to measure the distance between the wires and remember it. That is how much wire will be used to cut the foam.

Now the whole structure needs to be disassembled and start to manufacture the main part of the cutter.

Cutting foam with your own hands.</p><p> Foam Cutting Machine
Wire length selection

Base

First in fact, you need to take a board for the base and screw 4 legs prepared in advance to it. The easiest way to do this is to take 4 plastic bottle caps and fix them on the back of the board using ordinary screws. It is important that the screws do not come out from the back of the board. This can happen if the fastener is too long.

Next, you need to find the flattest side of the base and attach a structure there, to which the wire will be screwed.

Cutting foam with your own hands. Foam Cutting Machine
Chipboard for torch base

Wire fixture

The wire fixture in our design is two twisted pieces of rail that are tightly attached to the base. It is important to collect everything so that an angle of 90 degrees is formed and nothing wobbles.

The first step is to fasten the two slats together. The length of the first should be equal to the length of the wire that is suitable for cutting. The length of the second rod will be the distance from the tip of the torch to the wire. It must be selected based on the size of the workpiece that you are going to process.

Now the resulting corner from the rails needs to be screwed to the base using the corners.

It is important to do this so that the structure does not stagger.

Now you need to drill a through hole in the base where the line will go. To do this, screw a screw to the center of the rail, and tie a thread to it. When the thread comes down, you need to put a point at the place with which it comes into contact. This is where you need to drill.

On the back of the base, next to the hole, you need to screw a small screw. It should be as close to the hole as possible.

Cutting foam with your own hands. Foam Cutting Machine
Inserting the wire

Attaching the wire

Now you need to start attaching the wire.

The first step is to secure the spring to the screw that is on the rail. A nichrome wire is attached to the end of the spring, and the spring must be stretched by about half.

The other end of the wire should be tightly wound around the screw that was screwed on the back of the base. The wire should be well taut and the spring should not be in its original position.Nichrome wire can be quite uneven due to the fact that it very willingly assumes the shape that it has been given.

To make it as even as possible, you need to pull it and move it with a piece of wood until it visually becomes smooth. It is unlikely that it will be possible to make the wire perfect, but minor irregularities will not greatly interfere with cutting.

The last step is to set up the cutter. This is because a screwed-down rail does not create a right angle with the torch base. To fix this, you need to take a square and attach it to the rail.

Now, using a screwdriver or screwdriver, you need to turn the screw a little until an even corner is formed.

This completes the process of creating a homemade foam cutter. It remains only to connect the power supply.

Cutting foam with your own hands. Foam Cutting Machine
Wire tension through spring

Power connection

In order for the cutter to work, it needs to be powered from the unit that we did in the previous steps. For the convenience of fastening, you can buy special crocodiles that will help secure the wire in a couple of movements. If there are no crocodiles, then the wire can simply be wound in the right places.

Video Machine for cutting foam with your own hands

The first end of the wire must be connected from the back of the base, to the screw that we screwed there. The second end must be placed on the nichrome wire itself, under the spring.

Lowering the wire slightly increases the temperature and makes the torch more powerful.

If you need a full-fledged power regulator, then here is a short instruction on how to make it:

  1. You need to take a piece of nichrome wire that remains and wind it around a regular ballpoint pen so that it turns out that something like a spring.
  2. Hooks must be bent at the ends of the spring.
  3. Now, in an arbitrary place on the torch frame, you need to screw in two screws at a distance approximately equal to the length of the resulting spring. The wire must be secured to these screws.

  4. Next, you need to connect the end of the spring to the beginning of the nichrome wire of the cutter itself.
  5. The first wire from the power supply must be connected to the same screw located under the base, and the second wire must be fixed to one of the turns of the wire. Depending on the selected turn, the resistance in the circuit will change, and therefore the power of our device.
Cutting foam with your own hands. Foam Cutting Machine
Power regulator

Foam cutting process

To cut foam, you need to:

  1. Switch on the power supply.
  2. Make good markings on the foam sheet so that you can see where the cutting line should be.
  3. Take a metal ruler and place it against the cutting line. Cutting will be very difficult without a ruler.
  4. Cutting out complex geometric shapes on such a machine is also possible, but for this you definitely need to practice on simple products.

Guide board

To make it easier to cut simple products and shapes, you can screw any flat board to the base of the cutter and use it as a guide. To do this:

  1. Find a flat plank and place it on the base of the foam cutter.
  2. Drill a through hole at one end of the board. At the other end, you need to make a slot in which the screw should move freely.
  3. Now all that remains is to set the desired size and screw both screws to the cutter itself.

    Thus, the board will serve as a guide to which you need to press the workpiece. It can be used to cut products with a perfectly straight edge.

Cutting foam with your own hands. Foam Cutting Machine
Material cutting process

Danger of cutting at home

Remember that when burning, and therefore when cutting with our machine, it can release highly toxic substances.

These substances can harm a person, so it is imperative to follow safety precautions so as not to harm yourself.

Safety precautions for self-cutting

  1. Always work in a well-ventilated area, preferably a large one.
  2. Do not breathe in vapors or fumes that come from the foam, preferably wearing a mask or respirator.
  3. Do not put your hands close to the glowing wire.

The foam cutter is a very useful device in everyday life, which is not difficult to make with your own hands.

With it you can do a lot of interesting things that will definitely come in handy for you and your loved ones.

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