Watching a hot wire cutter do its work is always a pleasure. Especially in this case, where the cutter is 5 axis. The wire tips this way and that, melting through the foam like it isn’t even there.

Created in just two weeks by Victor Leung for Professor Olivier Ottevaere, this machine was designed to create foam pieces which would go on to be made into concrete sculptures.


5 Axis Custom-made Hotwire Cutter from Victor Leung on Vimeo.

The frame is comprised of Makeblock beams, and runs from an Arduino Due with the TinyG 2 shield for CNC. The hot wire itself is attached at one end and has a weighted tension at the other. This ensures it is always taut during operation.

80/20NiCrom wire of various diameters (0.25 to 1mm) was tried. 0.25mm seems to work best for our machine. The wire has to be thin enough to bend around the V-Slot bearings of 9mm diameter, it also has to be thick enough to withstand the tensioning force so that it will be stretched straight between the two XY stage. Approximately 1.5N of tensioning force is applied.

The goal of this project was to cut these interesting foam designs that can be turned into molds for concrete. In the example below you can see the initial foam cuts as well as the resultant concrete form.

To learn more about this project, you’ll need to go to Victor Leung’s website.