A hot wire CNC foam cutter is a computer-controlled device used to cut any shape in expanded and extruded polystyrene – EPS and XPS – foams. The device has a Nichrome wire stretched between two towers that are heated by passing current through the wire. The towers move relative to each other to cut the desired shapes in 2D CAD designs in a very accurate and inexpensive way. The machine also cuts 3D shapes like tapered airplane wings in one pass with no gluing or soldering required.
The cutting process is controlled by a microstepper that converts a G-code from the CAD design into an appropriate motion for each axis of the machine. The X and Y axes are driven by linear bearings on smooth rods, while the Z axis is often a GT2 belt and pulley or a leadscrew depending on the size of the machine. The construction needs to be sturdy enough to withstand the forces involved with the cutting process. The gantry plates of the X and Y axis need to be wide enough to hold the wire and have a good grip on the rails so that they do not move with each movement.
Ideally, the motors and electronics of the machine should be placed inside the cabinet. This will not only protect the equipment from dust, but it will also make it easier to maintain and repair. It will also keep the noise level down. The cabinets are usually made of steel but can be aluminum or even plastic, depending on the price.
When choosing a hot wire CNC foam cutters, there are many options on the market and they are not all created equal. Some are very easy to use and some are more complex. It is important to look at the price and features of each model. Also, the quality of the materials that are used is important. You want to ensure that the machine is durable and will last for years to come.
There are several software options for generating the G-code for a hot wire CNC foam cutter. Jedicut is a free program that does both CAD/CAM and acts as a machine controller. It runs on python 2.7 and is compatible with LinuxCNC. The software can create a variety of airfoils and supports layering wings to save material. It also has a tool for determining sweep and compensation for wire kerf.
Another useful piece of software is the wing G-code generator from LinuxCNC. It uses the same CAD/CAM and machine controller as Jedicut but is much simpler to use. It will take a little practice to get it to work properly, but it is a great solution for generating wing G-code. It also supports layering wings and compensates for a wire kerf by adding a skin thickness. This will help you avoid costly mistakes in the production of your aeroplane wings. It also comes with a database of existing airfoils and allows you to upload your own.