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Foam Q&A  (Read 15086 times)
« on: March 28, 2011, 11:17:27 am »

Hello! wave

My name is Chelsea and I work at Hot Wire Foam Factory, a USA manufacturer of tools for sculpting and cutting EPS foam. Our company receives questions everyday about foam and so I spoke to Shawn about opening a Question and Answer thread here to address any questions anyone might have about foam cutting or foam in general.

Looking forward to hearing from you!
Billy D. Fuller
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2011, 11:45:32 am »

Welcome to Puppets and Stuff Chelsea. I own several of the hot wire foam factory tools and think it is great for you to allow time from your busy schedule to answer foam questions. I guess I'll start the ball rolling here. Can hot wire tools be used to cut poly foam?
Shawn Sorrell
« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2011, 12:11:24 pm »

Chelsea welcome to PandS!  So glad you started this thread. I'll ditto Billy question about Poly Foam. I have heard that it can but but never confirmed it. It may be that we need to just give it a try and answer this for you also. Smiley I have used hot wires and knifes to cut Styro or EPS foam though.  It is truly amazing what can be produced. 

Folks if you have not checked it out yet you should have a look at the Galleries and How To section of the Hot Wire Foam Factory site.
« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2011, 12:24:42 pm »

Thank you for the welcome! For those that have projects they have made with our tools, we would love to see the photos! You can submit them for use in our gallery or on our facebook page. We're right on the edge of doing a gallery overhaul, so look for that soon!

To answer your question, Poly Foam is generally a polyurethane foam, which should not be cut with hot wire tools. It needs a ton of heat, gives off toxic fumes, and leaves a lot of melted plastic wherever it is cut. We recommend that the polyurethane foams only be cut with a blade or saw.

Though I know that Poly Foam is popular in use for puppets, large puppets can be made with EPS foam - we were sent this link to photos from The Puppet Co in Maryland showing them using our Bow Cutter to make a dwarf puppet for an upcoming production of Snow White & The Seven Dwarves. The possibilites are endless!
« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2011, 07:15:31 pm »


Does Hot Wire Foam Factory have a showroom?  I am very familiar with Lompoc, I grew up in Orcutt, and our daughter in law is from Lompoc.  Wondering if there is a place to visit to check out your tools next time we are in the area.
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2011, 11:19:07 am »

Small world, isn't it? Though we'd love to have the craftsmen and artists who use our tools and those interested in learning more about our tools stop by, unfortunately, our shop is kind of upside down now as we are reorganizing and what not, so we're not really ready to host anybody at the moment. When everything's all set up, we will have a space to show off the tools and we are going to use our space where we shoot our videos as a place to interview artists.

There are many stores around the country who have demo kits if you're interested in trying out the tools - where are you located? Maybe there's one in your area
Shawn Sorrell
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2011, 11:33:50 am »

I thought of a questions!  Smiley  I've worked with custom built hot wire machines in the past and they used the thin nicro wire that had a tendency to need replacing.  It looks like your products use something a bit more substantial. So is there a life on the blades/wires?

I am also trying to figure out the scroll table. Can you create custom shapes with this? It mentions coming with 7 wires and blades. Can the wire be bent to the shape you want?
Shawn Sorrell
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2011, 11:43:58 am »

I bet you are replying to this right now... I just figured it out by looking at Accessories where I see there are replacement wires and blades. Smiley 

I am having fun at your site.  I think I may have to give some of the coatings a try on poly foam.  I might even have to try some of the adhesives. I assume the adhesives are water base... am I right? 
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2011, 12:14:16 pm »

I was about to reply and then got the email notification of a new reply so I saw your newest post in time  Smiley

The wires won't wear out with regular use, you're more likely to lose them. The reshapeable blades may break after reshaping into sharp corners multiple times, but like you said, we do have replacement blades available.

Our Foam Coat probably wouldn't stick well to poly foam and would be really rigid - what kind of application would you want to use it for?

Our Foam Fusion glue is water-based and is solvent-free so it won't eat through foam, but it also probably won't work well with poly foam - it may stick, but it probably won't bond well. It requires a porous surface and the poly foam may not offer the ideal surface to stick to.

I wish these answers were more positive, but we'd rather you get a product that works best for poly foam!
« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2011, 12:24:56 pm »

I am also trying to figure out the scroll table. Can you create custom shapes with this? It mentions coming with 7 wires and blades. Can the wire be bent to the shape you want?

The 3D Scroll Table offers more versatility than our Original Scroll Table and you can make it into a router, lathe and milling machine and includes several different kinds of wires, from the straight wires to the bendable router and ribbon blades. The possibilities are endless with this machine, and though I've only used it to cut out basic shapes and letters, I do plan on playing with it more to stretch my creativity
Shawn Sorrell
« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2011, 01:14:11 pm »

I've used Tool Dip to coat poly foam with in the past to give it a skin. Sculptor Coat is another product that works on poly foam although not really marketed for it.  Don't have the time now but I'll get some of both adhesive and coating and give it a try. I think maybe the additive "Bounce" might be advantages with poly foam.

« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2012, 09:15:51 pm »

I have a 2 foam questions.  If I wanted to make a puppet out of foam in would be from Closed cell foam?  And where are some great places to buy foam?  I still haven't made a foam puppet yet.  That's why I am asking these questions.     
« Reply #12 on: May 23, 2012, 09:54:44 pm »

Squirrely - there are several threads on foam, what to use and where to buy. Do a search in the search box.
« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2012, 05:34:23 pm »

I was glad to see the myth of polystyrene or Styrofoam being addressed by Shawn, as we have seen some great examples of puppets made with regular old white polystyrene. One such example that comes to mind is by The Puppet Co. in Maryland, which created a dwarf puppet for their production of Snow White out of polystyrene foam, which you can see featured on our gallery here:


Obviously, we'd encourage you to find the right foam for your puppet, but not to count out polystyrene foams as options Smiley
Shawn Sorrell
« Reply #14 on: May 31, 2012, 06:53:25 am »

Those are really cool!  Thanks for dropping in and sharing these with us.
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