How to cut a Twine in foam


intertwined 3D wordplay

One of our customers  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 .


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 :

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 :

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.

cutting a larger block to managable size
Cut once, rotate 90 degrees and cut again
second pass for the final product
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)


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



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



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.




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.



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.





French lilly – cnc foam examples

We can imagine that by now you are curious to see some products made with the foam cube. While engineering focus was first and foremost on machine design we did create some simple products to test and demonstrate the machine.

The french lilly’s very recognizable shape was imported as a .DXF file into the CNC cube software and then copied front-to-back to make both sides of the machine mirror eachother.

french lilly’s in the foamstyler software


As a matter of testing the machine we decided to put a full pack of styrofoam panels into the machine and turned it on.  The pack was held in place purely by it’s own weight as the hotwire never pulls or pushes on the product.

thick or thin material ... the hotwire sees no difference
thick or thin material … the hotwire sees no difference

As you can see on the pictures this is a very easy way to create a lot of similar products in a very short time. The hotwire is only 0.3 mm. in diameter, and with the correct speedsettings it’s easy to have it make a very narrow kerf and tight corners.