How to Make Electric Foam Cutter

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Introduction: How to Make Electric Foam Cutter

About: Hello Guys, I am techgenie, an Electronics hobbyists, tech tinker and developer. I dedicate my free time in designing and making various creative and innovative projects, RC toys, Incredible Gadgets, Awesome...

In today's world, "styrofoam" is a widely used product in DIY projects and products. In earlier days, styrofoam was cut with a stationary knife that used to produce lot of dust all around. Electric Foam cutters help in getting rid of this problem. They cut styrofoam very neatly and effectively without any dust. Electric foam cutters, commercially available are quite expensive and not everyone requires such professional tools for hobby projects.

In this Instructable, i decided to make a simple Electric foam cutter that is easy to make and is affordable. This electric foam cutter is very useful when working with hobby projects. It uses a piece of nichrome wire that gets heated up when connected to a high current battery.

Make this simple Styrofoam cutter at home in just few minutes. In case of any queries, feel free to ask & leave your valuable feedback in the comments section below.

Step 1: Order Parts

Ebay.com

  1. Li-ion Battery Holder - https://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1...
  2. 3.7v Li-Ion Battery - https://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1...
  3. Toggle Switch - https://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1...
  4. Nichrome Wire - https://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1...
  5. Ice cream sticks - https://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1...
  6. Hot Glue Gun - https://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1...
  7. Soldering Iron - https://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1...

Amazon.com

  1. Li-ion Battery Holder - http://amzn.to/2z5Ji8W
  2. 3.7v Li-Ion Battery - http://amzn.to/2npKA8m
  3. Toggle Switch - http://amzn.to/2hS9uNK
  4. Nichrome Wire - http://amzn.to/2vR0TDh
  5. Ice cream sticks - http://amzn.to/2ul2vVK
  6. Hot Glue Gun - http://amzn.to/2vQEINI
  7. Soldering Iron - http://amzn.to/2r3IX6g

Amazon.in

  1. Li-ion Battery Holder - http://amzn.to/2hR8Lzx
  2. 3.7v Li-Ion Battery - http://amzn.to/2mMlK5z
  3. Toggle Switch - http://amzn.to/2jJC7Aa
  4. Nichrome Wire - http://amzn.to/2A0yv0Z
  5. Ice cream sticks - http://amzn.to/2vL5pmD
  6. Hot Glue Gun - http://amzn.to/2rjNE9r
  7. Soldering Iron - http://amzn.to/2qC47qG

From Home & Local Store: 2 x Nuts & Bolt (1"), Super Glue and connecting wires.

Note: All the parts links above are affiliate links (from ebay and amazon) that help me earn little commissions when a product is purchased. Such earnings motivate me and makes it possible to provide the content to everyone free of cost.

Step 2: Watch the Video

A video is a great tool that provides deep insight to the procedure and makes it easy to follow. However, also visit next step for additional details and images.

Step 3: Let's Begin

  1. Take a 18650 Li-ion battery holder and a push button switch.
  2. Using Hot glue, paste the switch at the back of the holder as can be seen in the image.
  3. Solder a battery terminal wire to a switch terminal.
  4. Solder a wire to the other switch terminal.
  5. Secure the connections with the hot glue.
  6. Fix the colored cap over the push button (optional).

Step 4: Prepare Ice Cream Sticks

  1. Take 4 ice cream sticks.
  2. Using super glue, paste the 2 sticks over one another to make a thicker stick.
  3. Make two such pairs of thicker sticks.
  4. Mark a point at one of the ends of the stick.
  5. Using mini drill, make holes at the marked point on both the ice cream sticks.
  6. Using hot glue, paste the sticks on both the battery terminal.
  7. Make sure the battery holder wires are free to move.
Note: You can use any drill or watch the video to make a mini USB Drill at home.

Step 5: Connect Heating Element

  1. Take 2 bolts and fix a nut in them upto the head.
  2. Insert the bolts in both the holes made in the ice cream sticks.
  3. Secure the bolts to the stick with nuts at the back.
  4. Tightly connect the battery holder wires to the nuts on respective sides.
  5. Take a piece of nichrome wire (28 - 32 AWG) and fix the wire tightly between the sticks using the nuts.
  6. Make sure that the nichrome wire should not touch the wooden stick.
Note: Make sure to refer to the images above to avoid any errors.

Step 6: Test Electric Foam Cutter

Our Homemade Electric foam cutter is now ready. Insert a 18650 Li-ion cell in the holder and press the switch to heat the wire. Now, use this tool to cut styrofoam and thermocol effectively without any efforts. Make cool designs and surprise your friends.

Note: Nichrome wire has special properties due to which it provides very high resistance and act as resistive load when connected to the batteries. Make sure to not use any other wire as that will short circuit the battery and can be very dangerous.
Note: To protect the batteries from getting damaged it is important to prevent their over discharge. The most common way is to replace the batteries every 10 min or a more convenient & professional way is to connect a TP4056 (with protection) module with the battery. It will protect the battery from any damage and also make it convenient to easily charge the battery with a 5v mobile charger.

So Friends, this here concludes the instructable, stay tuned and SUBSCRIBE to receive regular updates. In case, you might have missed, watch the video and see how to make Electric Foam Cutter at home. Don't forget to leave your valuable suggestions in the comments section below.

Thanks For Your Support..!!

2 People Made This Project!

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15 Discussions

I think to download an instructable, you should be a pro member on the site. Why do you need to download this anyway?

This device can be Extremely Dangerous. These Batteries Explode violently when discharged inappropriately. Google "ecig explosion". These permanently disfigured individuals are all due to discharging 18650 Lithium batteries incorrectly or even if the battery itself is old or defective or putting the battery in your tool box. I tried not to go on and on, but I have personally seen 18650s explode and shoot across the yard and catch a tree on fire. Too much cannot be said.

Author, please provide the resistance, screw to screw, of your device so that others can check their own.

While using, if the battery temperature exceeds your body temperature ( feels very hot ), stop and remove the battery if you can, place it safely away from you until it cools (not not use water), many times however, the battery can become damaged internally once it has become too hot and will continue to heat and melt or explode independent of being connected to anything.

instant interest.
--- I abhor styrofoam - (dust / not weather-friendly / every dumpster in the USA says, "NO STYROFOAM" -
--- but I wonder. does it get hot enough (460 F) for cuts into a 3D-printed object ???
--- ' mostly I guess, for cutting of extra, support-pieces used to support overhangs... a Dremel-wheel does nicely, but is sometimes too small...
--- tommy / colorado

1 more answer

I have no idea about it, i havn't used it to cut 3D prints yet.

Connecting a TP4056 module is very simple. You will easily figure it out once you see the charging module. Everything in the circuit remains same except the battery. The battery is connected to the module instead of nichrome wire & switch. The output terminals of the module are connected to the nichrome wire & module.

Thank you for the quick response, I will try it out'

Missing low discharge and current limiting circuit. Can not recommend

use in a well ventilated place, Styrofoam gives off toxic gass wen melted.

The size if the wire depends on the power supply and use. I needed a portable handheld cutter, so i used a 28 AWG nichrome wire that was able to heat up quite well in just few seconds.

I use this foam for a lot of craft projects/Christmas Decorations. I found that if you use an electric knife for carving meat that there is no mess and you have great control cutting out all sorts of little details.

#TypeNameHere Thanks for the tip. Yes, it can damage the battery. It is better to connect the battery to a TP4056 (with protection) charging module which will not only protect it from over discharge but also make it convenient to charge it easily.

Just thought I should say... Unless your planning on using those li-ion cells like their disposable you should put some type of protection circuit... I would guess that that nichrome will use at least 1-3 amps depending on how long you make yours so make sure its a 5amp-10amp protection circuit. If you tell me you can time it to not over discharge that would not be necessary but you would want to calculate the exact amp draw of that wire and change battery 20 min before it should run out at least.