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Hot Wire Foam Cutter

Styrocut 3
Forbo Model Making Space (Room G12)
Level 01 - Fabrication Workshop Safety Induction


A hot-wire foam cutter is a tool used to cut polystyrene foam and similar materials. The device consists of a thin, taut metal wire, often made of nichrome or stainless steel, or a thicker wire preformed into a desired shape, which is heated via electrical resistance to approximately 200°C. As the wire is passed through the material to be cut, the heat from the wire vaporises the material just in advance of contact. The depth of the cut is limited only by the wire length.

Video of Operation

Health and Safety


  • Ensure the extraction hood is turned on and positioned above the heated wire before commencing cutting.
  • Rotate the red knob on the side of the extraction hood above foam cutter to turn on air flow.
  • Only cut polystyrene and similar materials.

Operation Instructions

Foam Cutter Layout

A - Arm Lock
B - Wire Spindle
C - Wire Adjust
D - Wire Coil
E - Wire Hole
F - Guide Grove
G - Sliding bed guide
H - Foot Pedal
I - Power Switch
J - Heat Adjust


Start Up

  • Before beginning work visually check the machine and surrounding workspace to ensure that the area is clean and the foam cutter in good working order.
  • It is important that the lighting around the workspace is adequate to complete work safely and successfully.



  • Switch on the extraction unit above foam cutter using the red toggle on the side of the extraction unit.
  • Use the sliding bed guides [G] to align foam for cutting.
  • When the foam has been positioned correctly, gently slide the foam towards the wire while pressing down on the foot pedal [H].
  • If material fumes while cutting reduce the cutting temperature immediately [I].
  • If the wire does not heat check the yellow power [I] switch at the back of the foam cutter.
  • When the pedal is pressed both the heated wire and fan should turn on.

The wire only heats up when the foot pedal is pressed [H].


Machine Cuts

See Manufacturer's Information for further information about:

Staight CutsAngle CutsAngle Wire CutsStencil CutCircular CutDepth Cut

Workmanship Considerations

  • Wire length limits: The practical limit to the length of a tensioned cutting wire is constrained by the size of the machine.
  • Speed and temperature tuning: Cutting speed and wire temperature combine to determine the thickness and consistency of kerf. For a given wire temperature, an attempted motion in excess of the wire's ability to melt the foam can lead to wire drag and poor surface finish of the cut foam. Conversely, dwelling in the foam any longer than strictly required to melt the cut path can lead to excessively thick kerf. A non-uniform feed rate can lead to a kerf of varying thickness.