Hot wire foam sheet cutter - help needed - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-08-2010, 12:05 PM Thread Starter
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Hot wire foam sheet cutter - help needed

I'm getting ready to make myself a hot wire styrofoam sheet cutter (maximum sheet thickness 2 inches, but mostly I will be working under an inch). I need to be able to cut strips down from the 48 inch dimension of a sheet using a guide wall for consistency/correct angle, and I need adjustable dimensions up to say 12 inches. (cut strips up to 12 inches wide, using the wall) My initial concept is a flat platform with fixed vertical wire location, wire mounted on tension adjustable arm of about 15 inches length. Moveable/adjustable rip wall between base of arm and wire that slides closer to wire for smaller size strip - along the table rip saw concept.

Have any of you made such a project and have ideas toward parts or construction?

I found a 12 volt 14 watt a/c adapter in a drawer that might be handy. I think I'm going to need adjustable wattage output for more control.

Google suggests robbing a toaster or hairdryer for heat wire, or using steel guitar strings. I'd like adjustable tension on the wire on the fly.

My DIY orientation is I like the most industrial construction, not necessarily the simplest or cheapest. I am willing to pay for parts and do the work of good design for a robust, adjustable unit.

I am fairly advanced DIYer and have pretty decent access to most tools.

Thanks for any input/ideas!

DK
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-08-2010, 12:33 PM
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why are you trying to adjust the wire tension?


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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-08-2010, 12:38 PM Thread Starter
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The wire will undergo thermal expansion as it heats up, causing it to become more slack and make the cutting sloppier. I think the ideal solution is a sort of spring tension on the wire so that as it contracts again upon cooling it isn't snapped from being too taut. This suggests a spring tension action to the mounting arm.

I found this great video that is close to what I want to do. I think I'll start the hunt for a fried table saw and use the table/fence rig as in the link below. I have space to store the thing in a utility area.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2saggMOQB4
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-08-2010, 01:20 PM
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a band saw would do just as well DK!

it would eliminate the need to DIY the whole thing and would be far more useful over time because you can cut other things.

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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-08-2010, 02:04 PM Thread Starter
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a band saw would do just as well DK!

it would eliminate the need to DIY the whole thing and would be far more useful over time because you can cut other things.
(Places fist to chin...)

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

BTW J, rack parts are in, 75 dividers are in, I almost bought a dremel but could NOT find what bits to use to cut thin glass so abandoned that for the time being. Real estate is half cleared. Bought two sumps (got such a great deal that I bought a spare). Everything is ready for the big move, just have to get the energy to do it. Super tigers are popping like popcorn in the ghetto.

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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-08-2010, 02:32 PM
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you need the diamond coated bits. Home Depot usually has them. They are not cheap though.

Awesome on the next phase. Let me know when you need a hand. Did you clean out the tanks upstairs yet?

I will be finally setting up my tank this weekend so I will be ready for some tigers soon enough!

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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-09-2010, 01:16 AM
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Just do a search for hot wire foam cutter and you will find tons on how to make one. I used to use one for cutting foam wing cores for model airplanes easy to make


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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-09-2010, 01:31 AM
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Nichrome wire sells most readily on www.amazon.com
A small - weak - spring will keep the tension readily. Readjustment isn't usually an issue for thin foam.

That said, and using the been there done that side of my brain, The best solution I've found is three quarter to one inch foil backed foam. The foil backing keeps it together nicely and the density is higher so you can easily cut it with a utility knife.
A piece of plywood for a work surface, a drywall T-square for a guide, and a fresh blade per sheet makes for a quick stack of pieces with no fumes and little mess.
post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-09-2010, 01:48 AM
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I agree. Keep a sharp blade like the ones that snap off the tip and youll be fine.

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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-10-2010, 12:06 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the input, everyone. I have some hand strength issues, which is why I want to abandon the sharp blade/hand cut method I've been using.

The band saw idea is percolating right now, and craigslist is my friend, so we'll see what happens. I also thought of rigging a hot wire table via an old table saw or router table, or using a scroll saw, but I think the band saw might be the best bet, and fastest to process cuts, and least maintenance and hassle. Being (in one of my former incarnations) and ex safety professional, I also like the band saw idea because I can design a blade guard so the blade is only available for the thickness of the sheet.

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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-10-2010, 01:10 PM
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what would you do without me!

If I wasnt around to give you suggestions your would DIY your way right into a migraine!

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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-08-2013, 09:36 PM
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A tattoo Rtist power supply works very well, digital read out, foot pedal switch with 6' a leed. And its quite adjustable. They are cheap. In my research its about the ohms and feedback becasue the circut offers little to no resistance. So you need an inline resistor. Honestly the toaster thing is the best idea ever! Also a PING PONG table is perfect for a cutting table, smooth big enough for your large sheets, and the hot wire can be ran right through the center joint.

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