What is Hot Wire Form Cutting
Hot wire form cutting is a process to “cut” polyurethane foam into desired shapes. It generally uses a thin wire bow that is heated to about 200 degrees by running current through it. When the heated wire comes into contact with the foam, it melts the area immediately surrounding it, creating a smooth, cut-like surface.
Benefits of Hot Wire Form Cutting
The benefits of hot wire form cutting include:
- Works well on a variety of thicknesses. By adjusting the length of the wire used and the amount of current used, hot wire form cutting can be used to manipulate a wide range of thicknesses. The heat/thickness ratio is important because the thicker the material, the more drag there will be. In hot wire form cutting, we are not using a sharp edge or pressure as much as heat to cut the foam.
- It can be used to make precise cuts. Hot wire form cutting is an excellent way to perform very precision cutting. This is especially true in smaller foam items where very thin wire can be used. The wire bow can be easily manipulated, in some cases like a jigsaw, to provide precise cuts.
- Cut services are smooth. As the hot wire cuts through the foam, it leaves a smooth finished surface.
How Hot Wire Form Cutting is Done
At Merryweather Foam, hot wire form cutting can be accomplished in a variety of ways. The process will be determined by the volume being cut, thickness of the foam being cut, and complexity of the final product. Hot wire form cutting processes include:
- Push through slicer. This is often used when cutting blocks of foam into sheets of various thicknesses. A push through slicer will often use gravity and the weight of the foam itself to “push through” the foam blocks, cutting them with the hot wires as they travel through.
- Manual hot wire cutting table with templates. Large amounts of foam can be cut using manual hot wire cutting tables and pre-cut templates. These templates allow an operator to make multiple items of precisely the same dimensions.
- A simple hot wire cutting table. This allows an operator to cut foam manually and without templates. This is a popular process when creating prototype foam products, simple cuts, and where just a few cuts are needed.
- Handheld devices. Handheld hot form cutting devices allow for freeform shape cutting. These are generally used for small foam products and prototypes.
Applications of Hot Wire Form Cutting:
Applications for hot wire form cutting are almost limitless. They include packaging, insulation materials, void filling, foam toys and model aircraft, props, signage, surfboards and prototyping. It is a process that produces clean cuts without dust.
CNC contour cutting - CNC contour cutting is often a great fit for many hot wire form cutting jobs. It's especially better suited if you have a high volume of material that needs to be cut precisely. CNC Contour cutting is a digital programmable manufacturing solution that is often accomplished using a customer’s CAD files which precisely direct the cutting path of the blade.
Have questions about your particular application? Give us a call today and we would be happy to discuss your next project.