Activity: How to use the hot wire foam cutter!

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Hot Wire Foam Cutter
DaBL's Hot Wire Foam Cutter Station

The Hot Wire Foam Cutter is a custom piece of equipment created by the DaBL staff to very rapidly produce a three-dimensional object. As the name suggests, this machine uses a hot wire to manually cut a piece of foam stock as a subtractive manufacturing technique. Some applications for this process include but are not limited to making a very rough prototype for a project or a proof of concept.

Device Information

This device is a custom designed and created machine in DaBL crafted by the DaBL director with the help of the CaTS. The device consists of a wooden cutting board under which house the electronics components for the device. Out of the back comes a metal post from which a piece of wire is spooled around and reattached at the bottom of the wood board. Power is fed from an outlet through the post which heats the wire. The amount of power can be controlled by the small knob in the front.

It is advised that members do not fiddle with the knob as the desired setting is usually already in place.

Required Materials

  1. Hot wire foam cutter
  2. Foam Stock
  3. Design of desired object


The single vertical wire of this device is extremely hot. Keep in mind the following:

  • make sure hair, sleeves, and jewelry are tucked away.
  • avoid contact with hands, fingers, and other parts of the body when wire is in use.
  • only cut the approved foam on this device.

Cutting foam

In order to use the hot wire foam cutter, place and hold your foot on the safety pedal located on the floor. The wire will not heat up unless your foot is on the pedal. It will take about 20 seconds to heat properly.


  1. Conceptualize 3D design.
  2. Heat wire with foot pedal.
  3. Place and drag foam through the wire.