Cutting polystyrene foam with your own hands. Expert Tips

How to cut extruded polystyrene foam. How to cut the foam in the home. Effective cutting Styrofoam with a string at home

Styrofoam is quite a popular building material. It is used for thermal and acoustic insulation of rooms. In the process of construction work this material requires processing, in particular cutting under the required parameters. To cut the foam there are many options that are applicable in the home.

The procedure for cutting foam requires compliance with certain rules, since the material can break, crumble if handled improperly. To perform the cutting of Styrofoam, a variety of tools are used, for example, a good knife, soldering iron, saw with fine teeth for wood, metal, nichrome wire, angle grinder (only for thin Styrofoam).

Consider several ways to cut Styrofoam materials.

cutting, polystyrene, foam, your, hands, expert

How to make a thermal knife yourself

The knife should have the following functionality:

  • regulating the temperature of the cutting part;
  • Thermal knife must necessarily allow you to adjust the depth of the groove;
  • design should be such that the knife can be used without pre-cutting work after cutting the CIP panels.

Despite the apparent complexity of the task, it is easy enough to make such a thermal knife. With its help, cutting SIP panels with their own hands will be easy and fast. To create the device, you will need:

  • Two strips of hard steel or low thickness fiberglass. Their strength depends on the required depth of the groove, which is required to obtain;
  • Nichrome wire, with which the knife will melt the filler;
  • A plate that will work as a limiter, setting the thickness at which the cutting.

It is easy to use a powerful battery charger as a power source, which allows you to regulate the voltage of the filament. Naturally, to make a thermal knife with your own hands, you will need a convenient handle that will hold the side plates of the cutting part.

How to assemble a CNC machine for cutting foam plastic, homemade foam cutter

You’ve all heard of 3D printers, laser and milling machines. So much has been written about them that it is hard to find anything new and interesting on the web. So I decided to introduce you to the CNC foam cutter.

First, a few words about what they are. Foam cutter, is a device designed to cut polystyrene (Styrofoam and foam plastic in different densities). Foam cutters can be manual or automatic and differ in the principle of cutting. Some cut the material with a hot wire, others by pulling an abrasive wire through the material. As the second option is quite complicated in the manufacture, because of the many mechanical parts, we will stop at the first option and consider it carefully. The easiest variant is a handmade foam-cutting machine, it is a nichrome string stretched on an elastic frame and looks like an ordinary bow. Power is applied to the string, it heats up and cuts the foam plastic like a hot butter knife.

But we are not looking for easy ways, so we will create something monumental!

The creation of a new construction always begins with the development of the project, at least a drawing is needed, at least on paper, but this is the 21st century, and thanks to computers we can create a 3D model in the program “COMPASS 3D”

For those who want to get acquainted with the project in more detail in the end of the article there will be a video, under it you will find links to the archive with the drawings.

The project was conceived as a 3D foam cutter, but I have not yet installed a turntable, and it is not in the project, but the towers themselves are independent and in order to make the machine could cut full 3D figures it is necessary to add a module of the turntable. The whole construction is two independent frame on which move the tower with a string stretched between them. When folded, it does not take up much space, allowing it to be stored somewhere in a corner of the workshop, and in working condition it can take up the space of 1.5 by 2 meters.

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The project uses aluminum construction profile and steel profile tube 50×50. Let’s go to the store, buy everything we need, don’t forget about different bolts and supplies. But no matter how you plan, trips to the store for some minor detail will never end.

The tube is cut to size according to the drawings and welded four elements in the shape of a letter “Т” (shown in the diagram as yellow elements). All sanded, painted and twisted together. In general, the work is not very difficult, but I’m a welder handyman, so that I had a day to weld and stripping, another day to paint and a lot of time for assembly.

Yes, I almost forgot, the project has a few details cut out on a laser cutter. All this could be done by hand, but I’m still an aesthete, so I found a company that cuts the metal and placed the order. As a result, I spent money, but saved my nerves and time.

After painting it all, of course, looks better. I did not think too much and took a hammerblow enamel 3 in 1 and sprayed. The photo shows the threaded rivets, I used them to fasten the attachment equipment not to cut the thread, a very useful invention for hollow structures.

The turrets move along the frame which are shown in the photo below. All moved on plastic rollers, belt drive on all axes. The whole structure, if it is well thought out, is going to be no more complicated than a Lego constructor for a couple of hours. Almost all the components were ordered in China, it’s funny to say, but even the bolts were cheaper to order there, as we have, then out of stock, then at space prices.

The construction of the tensioner is shown in the photo below, in principle, everything is clear, in order not to overload you with technical information more detail will be told in the video.

Electronics unit is almost no different from the control unit CNC router, which I assembled a couple of years ago, if you are interested you can find in my articles. The same budget mach3 board is installed here, and the stepper motor drivers are a bit simpler than on the cutter, because the requirements are simpler. In general, take a metal box and stuffed it with all necessary connecting all the colored wires, beauty! 🙂 If you want more technical info, go to group ” EASYCNC”. Who would be interested I will leave a link at the end of the article.

To warm up the string was used a transformer from an old computer UPS, and to regulate the temperature of the PWM module. regulator from the Celestial Empire. To heat up a 0 nichrome string.4mm. for a length of 60-70 cm. requires a voltage of 30-35 volts. and a current of 1. 1.2, а. This combination works, but the PWM regulator does not stabilize the current, and sometimes the temperature of the string is fluctuating, which leads to uneven burning. That’s why you should either install a regulator or use a stabilized UPS.

In the finished video, the foam cutter looks as good as the factory version. Dimensions are sufficient to cut standard-sized sheets of material, except that the height lacks about 20 centimeters.

And now the most important question, what’s the point of it all. There are a lot of applications for the foam cutter. Of course I made it to cut airplane wings and fuselages by technology “Tetris”. The one on the photo below (not my photo taken from the Internet for the sample) but when I started, I could not stop. I tried cutting everything I could.

The tool is a box cutter

An ordinary paper cutter is also capable of doing the job

If you don’t have a shoemaker handy, and it’s urgent to divide the section into specified sections, then use a basic stationery tool designed for cutting paper sheets. All of the above problems are also true, but instead of sharpening, you should just break the blades, which at a large volume of work will lead to their significant consumption.

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If the cutting blade is heated, it will slightly melt the plastic capsules of Styrofoam, which in turn will greatly facilitate the course of the blade. On this feature, by the way, built the use of high-tech methods of cutting the material in question, but about them below.

A diagram showing the difference between using a cold blade and a heated blade

Design and principle of operation

even despite the fact that machines exist in a variety of modifications, the principle of operation of all of them in general is one and the same. The heated edge goes through the foam layer in the desired direction like a hot knife through butter. In most cases a trimmer line is used as such an edge. In the simplest models there is only one such heated thread, while in more advanced devices there may be several (up to six strings).

Note! If you plan to cut moulded elements, then special attention should be paid to how long products can be processed As an example: SRP machine, which is also used for cutting the described material, is equipped with strings longer than 2 meters, and for one run can cut about 12 pg

As an example: the SRP machine, which is also used to cut the described material, is equipped with strings over 2 meters long, and in one go will be able to cut about 12 pg. meters of material.

How to make a homemade machine for cutting foam plastic: steps

The machine with nichrome thread is considered the best option for cutting at home. To perform its manufacture is simple enough. It is enough to stock up on the necessary tools.

On both sides of the table in the center you need to indent 20 cm and drill holes. Then the bolts are inserted into the holes and the nuts are tightened.

The role of racks can be other materials, depending on the availability of improvised materials. Then a nichrome thread is stretched on one leg at a height of 10 cm from the surface. Screw the coil to the second and only then connect the filament.

Before you start making a machine for cutting foam plastic, it is worth to make its drawing and read the recommendations of professionals

This fastening of the filament is due to the fact that when heated, the material begins to expand and sag. This reduces the quality of the cut.

Then we bring the wires to the struts. It is advised to make the connection from below, so that they do not interfere with the work. Then the wiring is connected to the transformer.

This is influenced by the length, thickness and composition of the nichrome filament. In some cases a rheostat is used for electric feed. This solution is considered safer because unregulated power can be supplied through the trasformer.

The transformer is fixed under the table top. This makeshift machine is considered complete. The device is connected to the mains and you can begin work.

Machine for cutting Styrofoam, styrofoam in 30 minutes from what is in the garage

Machine for cutting Styrofoam, styrofoam in 30 minutes. It is faster to make a machine than to cut it by hand. The task to cut the foam plastic into strips of 6 cm around the perimeter of the house. I decided that it would be faster to make a machine than to cut with a hacksaw. Yes, and it will be smoother. For this you will need:

-The base. I took a door from furniture (I need narrow strips). You can also take a sheet of OSB if you need to cut the width.2 screws.Washers 4 pcs.Nuts 3 pcs.The charger for a car battery (any with adjustable current)

Everything you need in the photo

Take the door from the furniture (the wall in the hall), it all depends on the problem. I did not need to cut the entire sheet lengthwise. If there is such a need, then take a larger base. Drill holes in the two corners and fasten the bolts with nuts.

cutting, polystyrene, foam, your, hands, expert

You can take the nichrome wire from an old stove or an old iron or a nichrome wire spiral at the hardware market. I had a coil of nichrome wire in ceramic insulators. Has been in the garage for years.

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one end is fastened through the washer simply on the twist.

on the second end, fix it through the washer and the spring Any soft spring you can find. It is better if the coils of spring are thin, so that it goes well into the coils of bolt thread. Then it is convenient to change the size of the cut Where the washer goes on the bolt with an angle grinder grind the inner hole of the washer on one side. To go into the thread groove, too. It will be convenient to change the height of the cut and the size will not be affected. Otherwise you’d have to figure out how to attach it to some kind of clamp.

All. Now connect to the charger of the car battery and put 2. 3 Ampere Polarity. no difference. The current will be small. There is no need for a strong clamp. It is enough just to throw the wire. How to determine the right amount of amps? It all depends on the length of the wire and its diameter. It will be different for everyone. The rule is to not get too hot. Otherwise, it will burn out quickly. But about that, otherwise it will cut slowly. You will understand everything in operation.

and cut, cut, cut

Thermal methods of cutting foam

Cutting material with a thermal cutter is also a quite popular method. The tool itself takes the form of a nichrome wire, which is laid on a frame in the shape of a frame. When passing an electric current through a nichrome wire, the surface of the metal is heated and the foam begins to melt. There are several types of cutter design. The simplest version has the form of a nichrome string, stretched on insulators made of ceramics, which are attached to the edges of the frame, made of wood or metal.

Not only foamed plastic panels, but also wooden strips, plastic pipes and any material that melts or decomposes at up to 270°C can be cut with this tool. If you want to cut sheets with a considerable length of cut, it is much more comfortable to use a machine that has a vertically stretched thread on a textolite base.

A LATP or rheostat is used to control the heating of the nichrome wire. An excessively high surface temperature can cause melting and even cause the insulation to catch fire. The advantage of this method is the total absence of dust and debris, and the place of the cut gets a melted appearance, reminiscent of alkyd varnish treatment.

If in the process of working with foam plastic there is a need to cut only small parts of sheets, for example, when making a model and sculpture, then the best option is to use the nozzle for a powerful electric soldering iron.

In addition, for cutting this material resorted to the use of laser. In some cases, it is used even in the home. For this task uses an ordinary LED laser with a capacity of 2-5 W, through which you can produce a cut of foam board on any desired trajectory. At the moment with the help of such a tool it is possible to cut paper and foam plastic for 10-15 minutes, so it’s rather difficult to process a considerable volume of material with it.

Familiarized with the different options, you can not only find out what is the best way to cut foam plastic at home with your hands, but also choose the most suitable method for use, through which it will be convenient to carry out its cutting.

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