Foam cutting includes several different processes that foam cutters use for cutting foam into various shapes and forms. Foam cutting is an important process for many industrial and commercial operations, and the products generated by foam cutting are used in all kinds of contexts.
Quick links to Foam Cutting Information
Advantages of Foam Cutting
Foam cutting is the most common method of foam fabrication. In stock form, foam is most commonly stored and transported in buns, sheets and rolls which then require secondary processing in order to meet the desired shapes and sizes of its intended use. Foam is a variable, polymer-based material which is used in a broad range of applications in industries as carried as construction, aerospace, medical and marine.
It is a material that is able to be used in an almost limitless range of applications due to the ways in which it can differ and be adapted in terms of shape, size, softness and density. Specific applications require different types of foam such as polyurethane or polyethylene, and in the same way, different types of foam cutting. All these factors should be carefully considered when determining the best type of foam and method of fabrication.
Application of Foam Cutting
While a thermoset and molding process can also be used to fabricate some specifically shaped foam parts, most products are constructed from cutting foam in desired shapes, or into parts of shapes that are then joined by adhesive into the final product. Foam is used for a number of insulation and structuring purposes, as well as in signage, architectural modeling and props, aerospace applications, medical applications, foam cushioning for sports and recreational equipment, air and liquid filtration, packaging and energy absorption.
Methods Used in Foam Cutting
- The process of foam cutting can be achieved by contour cutting, die cutting, hot wire cutting, laser or water jet cutting. Contour cutting uses a specialized saw that cuts into a foam block in the desired pattern or shape. Foam die cutting uses a process similar to stamping to produce parts from a solid piece of foam. For long duration runs, this is a consistent and efficient method of parts cutting.
- Hot Wire
- Another common and precise foam cutting method is hot wire cutting. This process uses a taut metal wire instead of a saw blade. The wire is heated through electrical resistance until it is hot enough to melt, or vaporize, the foam. It passes through the material at the desired location and vaporizes the foam before it comes into contact with it. The speed of the process has to be carefully considered so as not to drag the wire and damage the foam if too fast, or create an unnecessarily wide cut if pulled through too slowly. The depth of the cut is limited only by the length of the cutting wire and this is restricted by the wire's tendency to sag under the force of gravity.