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Machining 3D Foam Models Using a CNC Router
Companies are using CNC hot wire foam cutters to cut any 2D foam shapes that only requires flat surface. When there is a need to make a 3D shape, a CNC Router needs to be used. A CNC router will machine any 3D shape. It is a 3-axis machine, which means it moves in a 3D space diagonally and in curves, in motions that resemble milling or carving. The router can create 3D designs from numerous types of material, including:
EPS foam, urethane foam, aluminum, light wood, acrylics, plastics and polycarbonate and ABS. The machining process involves creating 3D model using 3D CAD software, then bringing this model into a 3D tool-path that will tell the router the shape size, the resolution, cutting directions, cutting depth, etc.
If you have a 3D model you wish to design and it is either too large or too thick to be machined due to height or cutter length restrictions or the foam material not being thick enough, the shape can be sliced into sections. Each slice will be machined separately using the router and then the pieces can be glued together. The machined parts can then be sanded and coated with protective hard shell and painted, which will also take care of eliminating any visible grooves due to the gluing. Routers can also be used to create molds that can later be poured with concrete or polyurethane and other casting materials.
CNC routers range from a few inches of working area all the way up to 50 feet in length.
Every router uses a spindle - it is the motor that is doing the actual cutting. Router's spindles range from 1HP (horse power) to 20HP and above, and they can hold end mills (the driller) from 1/16" all the way to 2" and above. Different materials require different end mills and different cutting speeds. The denser the material the slower the cutting speed.
Using the scanner enables you to convert any regular model to a live-size design. Any model can be scanned - a face, a sculpture, a car toy, train, boat, plain and anything you need larger. You do not have to visualize and imagine how the 3D model will look like - the scanner does it for you.