Hot wire foam cutter vs. abrasive wire foam cutter



What is a hot wire foam cutter?


A hot wire foam cutter is a wire foam cutter that utilizes a thin metal wire that is heated to a certain temperature, typically around 200 degrees Celsius, and ran through a flexible foam to produce a desired shape. Often times these wire foam cutters are seen in manufacturing plants for mass production, since the hot wire can often be extended out to long lengths. As with any machine, however, the longer the wire, the more drag that will occur.

What is an abrasive wire foam cutter?


An abrasive wire foam cutter is another type of foam wire cutter that utilizes a roughened (abrasive) wire that tears through the foam, rather than heating or melting it. This type of wire is typically tensioned similarly to a hot wire, but doesn’t require heating of any sort. Instead, the wire is twisted in such a fashion that it leaves tiny abrasion points open so that as you’re going through the foam, it cuts through it like a knife.

Why use a hot wire foam cutter?


Hot wire cutters typically can’t get through very dense foam. Typically they are designed to cut Styrofoam, as they can easily get through this. One of the advantages of hot wire foam is that because it’s cutting by heat, it does not leave dust as it goes through. The disadvantage is that it is limited to certain foams it can cut, and you don’t typically see hot wire foam cutters as a CNC option.

Why use an abrasive wire foam cutter?


Abrasive wires are strong. Certain abrasive wires called Diamond Wires are actually used in stone and metal cutting applications. Because abrasive wires cut through their foam instead of heat it, they have the ability to cut through most any density foam. Although there is some dust created, abrasive wires typically come in different levels of coarseness, allowing you to limit the amount of dust produced.

What is a CNC abrasive wire foam cutter?


A CNC abrasive wire foam cutter is the same as a normal wire foam cutter, except that it is controlled by a computer (CNC stands for “Computer Numerical Control”). The computer sends commands to the motors on the saw and tells it exactly how far to move. Typically Stepper motors or Servo motors are used in these types of designs to get accurate parts. Servo motors are much more accurate and don’t typically account for the “backlash” affect.

Which is better, a hot wire foam cutter or an abrasive wire foam cutter?


Typically this depends on your application. As you see from some of the information above, hot wire foam cutters have some limitations. If you’re looking for a home project or very small manufacturing, you might be able to use a hot wire foam cutter. However, I would personally recommend an abrasive wire cutter if you’re looking to do any serious manufacturing.

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