Have you ever thought about the kind of machinery required to produce so many of the consumer products we rely on? Some products utilize robots and machinery so specialized, they’re only capable of a couple movements while performing a single task. Other machines rely on technology that has been around so long, many remember it from when they were children. One example of this is hot wire cutting technology, used today to create custom expanded polystyrene (EPS) products.
Hand-held hot wire cutters have been used for years to trim and cut EPS foam for arts and crafts and foam airplane gliders. On an industrial level, the same principles are applied on a grand scale for cutting industrial-sized polystyrene products. NiChrome wires are standard for both large and small machines used to trim foam, using electrical resistance to heat the thin wires to temperatures that let it easily slide through the foam.
Naturally there are differences, based on the volume being produced by manufacturers and the fact that a hand-held cutter isn’t the most practical device for cutting large, bulk forms. Industrial hot wire cutters are computer controlled and feature a tension wire that is multiple feet long, instead of only inches long. Some feature rotating bases for full, 360 degree cutting, while others have stationary bases requiring manual rotation.
In today’s age of fast-paced technology, sometimes it’s re-assuring to see something we once used in such a basic way still being the most efficient way of getting a job done. Hot wire cutting of foam products is one of these examples.