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  1. #1
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    foam cutting cnc- best cutting method?

    Hi

    I have a small independant aquarium shop and we go through a lot of filter foam, Most of our aquarium are independantly filtered in order to limited cross contamination of disease. That also means that we need to spend a lot of money on foam - approximately 50-60 foam replacements a month which can cost up to £300 a month.

    Being a DIY and electronics/computer enthusiast, I thought it would be a good idea to spend some time building my own CNC and cut out filter foam by machine. Most of the foam cant be hand cut as they are complex shapes.

    The foam we will use is this: (Reticulated polyether) https://www.efoam.co.uk/aquatic-filter-foam.php

    Thee foam is really easy to cut and a boxcutter can go through it like [extremely] hot knife through butter. A standard milling method looks ideal but it might produce a lot of waste so I am wondering whether I should spend more money and look into a laser cutter or a vibrating foam cutting knife cutter.

  2. #2
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    Re: foam cutting cnc- best cutting method?

    A bandsaw would probably be the ideal tool. I'm not sure what the shapes you're cutting look like, but I doubt they're something a 1/8" blade couldn't deal with. Setting up a CNC just to do this could work, I suppose, but holding onto the foam while you're cutting it would be difficult.
    Andrew Werby
    Website

  3. #3
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    Re: foam cutting cnc- best cutting method?

    Quote Originally Posted by awerby View Post
    A bandsaw would probably be the ideal tool. I'm not sure what the shapes you're cutting look like, but I doubt they're something a 1/8" blade couldn't deal with. Setting up a CNC just to do this could work, I suppose, but holding onto the foam while you're cutting it would be difficult.
    Hi Awerby

    Thanks for the reply, unfortunately we'd need to make 30+ foam at a god and the foams aren't simple shapes, they're pattered and they also have holes in the middle for tubes to go past the foam. It's going to be a PITA to make them all by hand. CNC are not too expensive either openbuilds make it possible to build your own CNC for relatively little money.

  4. #4
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    Re: foam cutting cnc- best cutting method?

    how thick is the foam a laser may be better as you don't have any force to move it.

  5. #5
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    Re: foam cutting cnc- best cutting method?

    Is this foam okay to burn? If so - if it doesn't generate toxic fumes - then Fixtureman's suggestion would be worth considering. If it's made from urethane or something else with combustion products you don't want in your space, then sending it out for water-jet cutting might be your most cost-effective option.
    Andrew Werby
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  6. #6
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    foam cutting cnc- best cutting method?

    We cut tons of foam at work and use a water jet without any abrasives in the water. Works awesome and cuts are supper clean
    Another ideal would be a rolling knife that is on a CNC table but may be hard to get the bugs worked out


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  7. #7
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    Re: foam cutting cnc- best cutting method?

    Hot wire?

  8. #8
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    Re: foam cutting cnc- best cutting method?

    Well, Polyether releases isocyanates when burnt, so laser cutting is probably a (really) bad idea.

    Water jet cutting is much safer, and it's not like water will do the filtering material any harm. Much harder to DIY though.

    Hotwire cutting would have to be handled carefully, in order not to leave isocyanates suspended in the foam, which could then rapidly prove deadly to the fish.

    It may be more to the point to redesign your filter boxes to use less complicated shapes for the filtration material, such that hand cutting the filter material becomes easier, or make block off plates for the complicated parts, and leave simpler rectangular areas which can use easily cut shapes. This may reduce surface area for filtration, but perhaps changing filters more often is a reasonable trade-off for easier shapes.

  9. #9
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    Re: foam cutting cnc- best cutting method?

    One idea is to mill a stamp from metal , with the design of the filter . Then you will put a foam (on it or under it) and press it until its cut.

  10. #10
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    For your situation I'd imagine that milling would be your best bet, but I understand that you don't want to waste; reticulated foam is expensive! I'd reccomend contacting a professional foam converter for advice. They do this sort of stuff everyday and will probably know the most effecient method.

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