endless possibilities

Having a foamcube at your disposal changes something ! You'll never look at things the same once you realise how easy it is to create balusters, tapered columns, chairs, endtables, signs, portals, and so much more.

5-axis CNC Foamcutter with rotation platform

full 5-axes of freedom to create complex shapes with ease using our All-in-one Foam cutter

€ 2.840,00

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foamcube controller

Universal 4 axes foam controller

Universal foamcutter controller based on arduino processor or usb cnc controller. Run 4 axes independently – integrated hotwire temperature control.

€ 645,00

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4-axes Foamcube + controller

Order your 4-axes Foamcutter now ! Everything is included to get you on your way. All Foamcubes are custom built and allow you to create large 3D shapes in minutes.

€ 690,00

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Learn about our CNC Foamcube

We’re happy you came here to learn more about our CNC cube !

Foamcube came to life in 2013 . Since then it developed into a 5-axis computer controlled foam cutter that will allow you to create very complex foam shapes within minutes. It can be used to cut huge letters, wings, tables, chairs, columns, ornaments, stage props, art and more.

The CNC foam cube was invented and developed in-house at Fablab013 (Tilburg – the Netherlands) by Pete Scheepens. On March 25th 2015, the Foamcube project successfully got funded through a kickstarter campaign that went well beyond it’s initial goal. This allowed the Foamcube team to jump-start production and engineering and it has helped to make Foamcube available to everyone worldwide. You can now find Foam cubes on every continent at Universities, tech-shops, museums, High Schools, workshops and in your neighbors garage.

Foamcube is open source where possible and you can build the project from scratch yourself if you want to using our online assembly guide. You can also order pre-built kits directly from this website.If you don’t want to tinker with it, you can also order a custom made pre-built and pre-tested machines per your specifications here.

Our foamcutter is still actively being maintained and developed ! Exciting new features are being added all the time. Check back regularly.

Foamcube V 4.0 – Februari 2017

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Foamcube V4.2 May 2017

 

download 5 axis arduino controller software

Foamcube 5-axis control software runs on a standard arduino Mega and can be downloaded here for free. This controller software can run 5 independent stepper motors simultaniously and can be used to power any CNC machine up to 5 axes. It was specifically developed to control a dual tower foamcutter with rotating platform.

The arduino control software has the following features :

  • Alle stepper routines run through interrupt
  • implemented ring buffer to buffer up to 100 Gcode commands for jerk-free cutting
  • on-board speed control
  • on-board hotwire temperature control

As this product is still under development we only offer the .HEX file for download. If you do not know what a HEX file is or how to upload it to your arduino you are not yet ready for this experimental software. Stay tuned as we work towards public version 1.o

Download 5 axis foamcube control software here :

How to cut a Twine in foam

 

intertwined 3D wordplay

One of our customers http://twine.jewelry  sells nice intricate hangers through their online webshop and needed a large twine demo piece for their upcoming business event.

A twine in this case is a mix of 2 different names cut at a 90 degree angle so both names intersect and create a 3 dimensional shape.

A few pictures say more than a 1000 words so take a look below to see what we mean :


 

Using the foamcube @ Fablab013 we loaded the part of the twine that reads ELLEN and started cutting it out of a block of EPS-300 styrofoam. (EPS-300 is very dense and tough).

After the ELLEN twine was done we rotated the block by 90 degrees and loaded the twine JORIS. Both twines were simple .DXF outline vector files (tip: use the free and open-source program inkscape to draw your own).

After both sides were cut we took a good 10 minutes to wiggle the shapes out of the block carefully. The result was a twine measuring 800 x 170 x 170 mm. that now functions as a large demo piece to show potential buyers what their jewelry may look like .

 

What can Foamcube do ?

5 axes of freedom

Foamcube is a 4 axes or 5 axes (styro) Foam cutter that can cut complex 3-dimensional shapes out of foam in a few simple steps. It is robust enough to run large commercial productions, while the controls are very intuitive and miles ahead of the alternatives on the market that cost 5 to 10 times as much. It features two independent towers, each with an independent X and Y or U and V axis, combined with a rotation platform or A axis, hence the name X-Y-U-V-A machine.

In commercial & educational settings

Foamcubes are being shipped worldwide and you can find them on every continent. They are used in commercial businesses for every-day productions, and they are used by many universities around the globe as part of educational or research projects.

 

Load vectorfiles and instantly cut them

With Foamcube you can load ordinary 2 dimensional drawings or vectorfiles (like .AI .DXF .EPS .SVG and others) and instantly transform them into a shape in Foam. The machine uses an electronically controlled hotwire that can travel along 4 independent axes to cut shapes out of many different kinds of foam.

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Create 4-axis gcode

Foamcube is a CNC machine that runs on standard Gcode. You do not have to create this Gcode in another program as is normally the case with CNC machines. Foamcube has a built in pre-processor so it creates 4-axis Gcode on the fly.

Create complex airplane wings

The usbcnc software has a built in airplane wing editor to create very complex tapered wing shapes. Simply enter the dimensions and other wing data and foamcube will automatically cut wings per your specifications.

Cut many different materials

Foamcube has an electronically controlled wire and has an extensive speedcontrol system with corner-lookahead technology. Because of this the cube can handle a wide range of foams and other materials that can be cut in a range from 100 to 300 degrees celcius with a razorsharp kerf as narrow as 0,25 mm.

Cut tapered or offset products

Unlike other foamcutters Foamcube has true independent 4 (or 5) axes control. This means the hotwire can be angled automatically in any direction. Software automatically calculates tapers and offsets from simple 2 dimensional drawings – no need to make complicated 3D models or work with exotic design software. The workpiece can rotate on a computer controlled platform during cutting, making for some very intricate shapes.

Make thousands of products for dozens of industries

Because Foamcube is so precise and can cut such complex shapes it is suited for many different products. Below are just a few examples of how people use Foamcube :

  • Furniture making : Large font-like shapes are cut by foamcube in high density foam and then covered with a wooden board to distribute pressure evenly. The structures get coated and are placed in public auditoriums as seating blocks
  • garden ornament casting molds : Ornaments are cut as positive shapes out of large foam blocks. Once the cut shape is pushed out of the block it leaves a negative cavity that can be filled with concrete or other materials.
  • architectural models :
  • large letters , logos and digits :
  • stage decor pieces for concerts and plays :
  • tapered colums and molds for plasterwork :
  • lost mould casting using fire or acetone :
  • be sure to visit our examples in the menu above to see some real-life projects !

materials you can cut with the Foam cube hotwire system

With Foamcube you can process a variety of different foams ranging from Simple hardware store grade EPS to very dense and sturdy EPP blocks. Below are some of the materials you can work with. Any material that melts in a temperature range of 50 to 300 Celsius can technically be cut with Foamcube. By adjusting speed or wire temperature* you can tune in to a perfect cut with a narrow kerf and a smooth surface.

 EPS 60  | EPP 50 | XPS

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EPS – expanded polystyrene

EPS foam typically ranges from EPS 60 to ESP 500. EPS 60 is the stuff you buy at the hardware store, it is very cheap and often used for insulation. When EPS-60 is cut it is smooth but still shows some of the open structure. The higher the EPS number, the more condensed and heavy the foam will be. EPS 300 and up are very dense and can be sanded and have some structural abilities. (furniture, floating things, stage props etc.)

EPS-60 typically cuts fast and needs relatively low temperatures to cut (approx. 25 mm/sec @ 220-240 Celsius). Higher numbers mean lower speeds or require higher wire temperatures.

Low grade EPS 60

EPS 100 demo

XPS – extruded polystyrene

xps a.k.a. styrofoam a.k.a. styrodur a.k.a. styrisol is much denser than EPS and has better insulating properties. It can be purchased at local hardware stores and typically has a yellow or blue color. XPS sheets often act as a composite material because the top and bottom of the sheet are more dense than the middle part. Because of this reason it requires a different setting on your Foamcube and it also matters if you cut sheets perpendicular or parallel. XPS cuts a bit slower than EPS and prefers higher temperatures but has a very smooth finish. (approx. 12 mm/sec @ 250-270 Celsius).

styrisol sheets (XPS) give smooth finishes but cut slower

 

IMG_20160408_103743

EPP – Expanded polypropylene

Epp is an eco friendly foam that is typically very dense and has high structural integrity. When cut it makes tough parts that can handle a beating. E.p.p. is a bit harder to come by, but you should be able to find a few suppliers on the internet that are willing to cater. Due to it’s dense and rugged nature EPP cuts slow but it’s well worth the extra time. EPP wants a hot wire so be prepared for a beefy power supply or a short hotwire. (approx. 10 mm/sec @ 270-280 Celsius).

Rugged and dense EPP foam

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 Foamcube uses a 0.22 mm. hotwire and has a very narrow kerf width.

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* Standard Foamcubes may be delivered with a 24 volt power supply. On the large 1 m3. cube this results in approx. 240 degrees Celsius ; more than enough for EPS-100 cutting. To cut denser foam like XPS or EPP you can upgrade the power supply to 48 volts or as a workaround use a hotwire jumper to make the functional lenght of the hotwire shorter, thus hotter.

a word about NiCr hotwire length for foamcutters

nicrFor Foamcube we use NiCr type hotwires. NiCr stands for Nickel Chromium.

The NiCr wires are strong, can handle high temperatures and do not expand too much when heated. They are also available in very small diameters so the kerf of our foam cuts can be nice and tight.

Since most Foamcube wires are either a maximum of 50 cm. or 100 cm. we use the same wire for both and simply vary the voltage running through the wires. Ideally we want a temperature range of about 220 – 300 Celcius, which can easily be achieved by using either 12 volts or 24 volts.

The wire we use has a resistance of 22 Ohms per meter and has a diameter of only 0.254 mm. It’s right in the sweet spot.

When we apply 12 Volts DC to a 50 cm. long wire, it’s temperature hovers around 250 Celcius. It draws approx 1.1 Amps from your power supply.

When we apply 24 Volts DC to a 100 cm. long wire, it’s temperature hovers around 250 Celcius. It draws approx 1.1 Amps from your power supply.

So by doubling the input voltage you can make the hotwire twice as long keeping the same temperature range. This also implies that by controlling the input voltage you can control the temperature of the hot wire.

When you build your own foam cutter it is recommended to keep your wire length at maximum 40 cm. (12 volts), 90 cm. (24 volts) 190 cm. (48 volts) etc. Power supplies in increments of 12 volts are easy to find and are a lot cheaper than having to acquire say a supply of 28 volts. By keeping the wire length a little shorter you will have a wider temperature range to cut denser type foams using off-the shelf power supplies like ATX supplies from an old computer, LED power supplies from China, or even your typical plug-in-the-wall power supply that delivers more than 1200 milli-amps.

We carry spools of Ni-Cr wire in our online store for your convenience. If you source your wire locally make sure it consists of Nickel and Chromium  (no iron, aluminium and other traces) and has a resistance of 22 Ohms/meter at room temp.

Foam hotel – architectural model

Foamcube comes in many different sizes, but every cube is capable of making models well beyond its boundary size. As an example we used a 1 cubic meter cube to create a 12 cubic meter mockup of a chinese hotel. The hotel was designed and cut by Space and Matter (Amsterdam), read more here : http://fablab013.nl/inspiratie/cnc-foam-cube-cutter-da-lang-palace-china/

The 3D model of the hotel was cut into several smaller pieces and fed into Foamcube. The entire process took about a week to put together, but the actual cutting of all the parts was done in a timespan of approx. 14 hours.

thin foam is cut by standing a sheet straight up
thin foam is cut by standing a sheet straight up
initial body is made out of rough cut blocks
initial body is made out of rough cut blocks
more detail is added
more detail is added
the small details like balcony's windows and columns are no problem for Foamcube
the small details like balcony’s windows and columns are no problem for Foamcube
final pieces were put together using simple white wood-glue and toothpicks
final pieces were put together using simple white wood-glue and toothpicks

 

Below is an image of the model as it was shipped to China. To read more about this project please go to :

http://www.spaceandmatter.nl/dalangfever/

Foamcube safety sheet & quick start guide

Foamcube safety sheet

Foamcube d.i.y. Kits are distributed by :
Bijbibi / Fablab013
Groenstraat 139 Hal 553
5021 LL Tilburg
the Netherlands

via4321@gmail.com
+31 6 373 402 83

online manual : http://foamcuttingcube.com

 

With Foamcube comes your own personal online drive. It contains important documents, settings, manuals and instructions. Please take time to familiarize yourself with these documents first.


your personal online drive :

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B08tCnnhDeKgZjkzRnF6cC15Wlk

 

Do it yourself kit & limitations

Please note that all Foam-cube kits are delivered as a collection of loose parts that need to be assembled by the end-user into a usable machine. Although efforts were made to make these products as safe and easy as possible, the distributor can not make any guarantees towards the final product regarding safety or compliance to local rules that may apply in your country or region.

Before you build your machine you should be aware of any regulations that may apply to you when implementing such a machine in a private or (semi)public setting. Note that as the constructor of the machine you take on sole responsibility for safety and compliance and indemnify the distributor against any claims or damages.

 

Potential safety hazards you may encounter

  • Foam cutting machines like Foamcube have electrical parts that may overheat, melt or catch fire. Never leave your machine unattended when it is plugged in.
  • Foamcube uses a hotwire to cut foam. Wire temperatures can run as high a 1000 degrees celsius ! hotwires, when touched, may cause severe and painful 3rd degree burns.
  • Hotwires can easily ignite other sources and start fires.
  • When cutting material with hotwires you may generate noxious or poisonous fumes. Take proper precautions.

 

 

  NEVER connect or disconnect electrical connections when your Foamcube is powered on, plugged into mains, or connected to the USB port.

This WILL destroy the stepper drivers inside your controller.


Welcome to your online drive for Foamcube support. In this google drive folder you will find various documents that will help you get the most out of your Foamcube CNC hotwire foam cutter.

Installing software

if you ordered a Foamcube with USBCNC controller, please download and install the USBCNC software from the planet-cnc website.

direct link : https://planet-cnc.com/software/

activating license key

After you installed the software you should activate the license key. If you did not purchase a license key you can get one through http://planet-cnc.com

Most Foam cubes are delivered with a lifetime license key included. If you did not receive your license key through e-mail, please find the document called “foamcube license keys” in your online drive folder and follow the instructions.

inserting standard settings

The software that comes with your cube has a vast amount of settings to let Foamcube perform exactly the way you want. Calibrating and tweaking your Foamcube can be a little daunting at first. To give you a headstart you will find a file called foamcube-5x.settings in your online drive folder. You can use this .settings file to pre-configure your foamcube and get going with standard settings.

For exact configurations please see the USBCNC manual in your online drive folder

building your foamcube

If you have not yet started assembly of your cube you can find a standard online assembly manual here : http://foamcuttingcube.com/  Please see the “assembly” menus on the top of the page. Note that your cube may look different so use the guides loosely as Foamcube is always under development to improve user experience.

Need more help ?

While most people have no problems building and running their cube we understand if you have more questions. Please post general questions in our forum and we will do our best to get you an answer within 24 hours : http://foamcuttingcube.com/forum/

Demo files

In your online drive you can find a folder called “demo files”. It contains some .DXF and gcode files to get you started quickly.

Simple 2D  shapes

Flame : load the .dxf file into the usbcnc software and cut it out of a small sheet of foam.

3D shape out of a 2D file

candle 2 : cut it out of a small piece of foam. Then turn 90 degrees and cut it again.

3D shape

candle 1 : cut it out of a sheet that is at minimum 10 cm thick. after it was cut, turn it 90 degrees and load “candle 2”. Now cut candle 2 through candle 1 to get a 3-armed candelabra.

rotationcut

Load bal72.txt as a gcode file. Set rotation platform to 5 degrees. Start the cut and see the bal take shape in 72 cuts. (This is probably the most inefficient way to create a shape like this. Using ping-pong mode in our online gcode builder will be far more efficient.)

online gcode builder – ROTATIONCUTS

Once you are familiar with all the options and settings on your Foamcube you may want to play with our online gcode manipulator a bit. It helps you transform simple 2D outlines into 3D shapes. The gcode it generates can be loaded into usbcnc directly. Don’t be fooled by it’s simplistic appearance. When you put in more complex shapes, you get very complex 3D shapes as results. Experiment !

you can find the online gcode builder at :

http://foamcuttingcube.com/buildgcode/

foamcut Japanese garden ornament in plaster

Vera came up with the idea to recreate a japanese tea-garden on top of our steel containers in the lab. Naturally we needed some ornaments to create atmosphere so Vera started up her Illustrator (yes, I know, inkscape is better 🙂 and started drawing a 2d outline of her first ornament. We want a positive model in foam so we can coat it, and we want a negative mold so we can pour new ornaments in plaster-of-paris.

IMG_20150205_170734
cutting a larger block to managable size
IMG_20150205_160201
Cut once, rotate 90 degrees and cut again
IMG_20150205_155913
second pass for the final product
IMG_20150205_173712
tadaa … !

 

 

 

 

 

 

CNC cut baluster and foam mold

The cube can create complex 3D designs in a very simple manner. This time we want to create a mockup baluster for in the garden, and afterwards we also want to have the pouring mold so we can create new balusters very easy and repeatedly in concrete.

Step 1 : Draw some images in your favorite vector software (we use inkscape , it’s freeware)

baluster

Step 2 : Load your .DXF images into CNC usb and start cutting the foamblocks on your  foamcube.

IMG_20150204_112445

 

Step 3 : rotate your foamblock by 90 degrees and load your second .DXF to make the crosscut

2nd cut to make our baluster
2nd cut to make our baluster

step 4 : remove foamblock and gently extract positive mockup/prototype from your block. What’s left is a perfect mold for pouring concrete or gypsum.

IMG_20150204_120600 IMG_20150204_120611 IMG_20150204_120114 IMG_20150204_120105

IMG_20150204_134640

 

poured in concrete

foam pinnacle & casting mold

japanese_topThis foam pinnacle was designed in the free Inkscape vector drawing software and saved as a .DXF file in millimeters.  The .DXF vector-image was then imported into the foam cube software and copied to both cutting towers.

 

For this model the cutting towers ride in stereo, mimicking eachothers movements. Once one cut is completed the model is rotated 90 degrees and cut again. This creates a perfect pinnacle and a very solid re-usable casting mold for materials like concrete or plastics.

pagode_4

pagode_2

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cnc hotwire foam cutting tips

In order to get the most out of your foam cutting projects we have collected some tips and experiences straight out of the lab :

  • hotwire thickness : thicker wires can carry more current and can get hotter thus travel faster , but with more heat and speed comes more inaccuracy. Keep your wires thin and speeds low for more accurate models.
  • speeds : Denser foams need more heat or lower speeds. Thicker blocks also need a speed adjustment.
  • complex models : To create complex shapes it may be neccesary to rotate your foam blocks in incremental degrees (usually 45 or 90 degrees). Keep your blocks aligned securely and perpendicular to the hotwire for best results.
  • dirt : To cut costs many people use old insulation blocks. No problem, just be careful with any dirt on the blocks that may accumulate on your hotwire. Dirt will instantly bake on and ruin a perfect cut.
  • When you have a choice, always start cutting at the top and work your way down to the bottom of the piece.

decorative mouldings – CNC foam cutting examples

Mouldings can be very expensive, but now they are very easy to make with your own foam cube. Simply draw a flat image of a moulding’s cross-section and import it into the software.

IMG_20140805_101111

 

Let the machine do it’s hotwire cutting while you have a cup of coffee. And once your foam cutting cube is done, simply slide your new mouldings out and separate them.

 

IMG_20140805_101532

 

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