FoamCasualty 6 Axis CNC Foam Machine - RC Groups
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Jan 05, 2013, 11:12 AM
Erik with a K
tvcasualty's Avatar

FoamCasualty 6 Axis CNC Foam Machine

Bert and I have been working on this setup for some time now and a lot has changed since the original thread so I decided to start a new one. The price is $3500 and over 3 years of engineering are done for you. You supply the keyboard, monitor, mouse. The Foam Cutter comes as a kit, including the stand, the wire, the mill, and the computer that runs the machine.

Sketchup is our CAM platform, as we've written a custom plugin, NCGen, that allows wire cutting, 3d milling, and 2d milling.

Presenting the FoamCasualty 6 Axis Foam Cutter:
Cycle test the FoamCasualty 6 Axis Foam Cutting CNC Machine (0 min 26 sec)

Our Machine and Control Solution are manufactured in Halethorpe, Maryland.
We debuted the system at the 2012 Weak Signal Show in Toledo, Ohio and had a great reception.

The general goal for our system was to be able to hotwire and then mill a wing for foam constructed aircraft such as my Corsair. The results have exceeded all of our expectations. Here is a link to one of the later prototype builds and the results of it's cuts.

Our most limited axes (Z and W) are run at a rapid travel (G0) of 90ipm (~2200mm/min). Foam wire cutting however requires a much slower rate of about 4ipm. In the XY plane we cut at 200 ipm with higher speeds capable, although I have not tested the limit.

We have sold several machines now, one of which is used in industry at Com-Pac International. Com-Pac uses our product to demonstrate large foam profiles of tiny extrusions that are used as medical/space grade "zippers" for plastic bags that absolutely can not leak.

I'll be getting some more pictures up soon, for now here is some video of it cutting:
FoamCasualty 6 Axis CNC Foam Cutter (3 min 33 sec)
Last edited by tvcasualty; Apr 18, 2013 at 12:48 AM.
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Jan 06, 2013, 06:06 PM
Alien_Tech's Avatar
Fantastic machine! Have you sold any yet?
Jan 08, 2013, 06:34 PM
Erik with a K
tvcasualty's Avatar
We have sold several. Here is a picture of some of the foam extrusion mock ups that Com-Pac Int. has made with our machine.
Jan 08, 2013, 08:26 PM
Registered User

Awesome machine!

That looks very swell! Is that a brushless outrunner spinning the spinny thing?

I'd give my left pinky toe to know where to get a long endmill like that. Any chance you would share?

Jan 09, 2013, 06:29 AM
Erik with a K
tvcasualty's Avatar
Thanks billcat,
It's a 450 heli style outrunner driving the spindel. Low cost, higher torque, and easily replaceable should it decide to fail.

The endmill is not really a trade secret.
Check out Mcmaster-Carr, it's a 2" or 3" 1/8" diameter ball endmill:
2" 8878A22 or 8885A191 or 8885A192 or 8885A193
3" 8878A35 or 8885A211 or 8885A212 or 8885A213
Jan 09, 2013, 10:01 PM
Registered User
Ahh..., the wonderful McMaster! I have purchased endmills from them already but did not find any of the long ones at the time, I guess I needed to look a little harder.

Thanks for the advice!
Jan 09, 2013, 10:47 PM
BillO's Avatar
Do you think your mill could cut 1/8" ply given a shallow cut, slow feed, and several passes? I would sure like to cut formers in addition to foam.
Jan 09, 2013, 10:50 PM
Alien_Tech's Avatar
Can a more stout router motor be used? I'm really intrigued by this for my kit production, but would rather have a little more muscle for the mill part. I see lots of possibilities!
Jan 18, 2013, 12:47 PM
Erik with a K
tvcasualty's Avatar
I was wanting to respond with some pictures or video of cutting harder materials but I cant seem to find any and I did not get time to get out to the shop and cut over the last weekend.

I dont want to pull any punches about our machine so here it goes, please keep in mind that it was designed to cut foam, but we understand the want to also mill harder material for use in RC aircraft construction.

The largest issue we had to overcome, and is the limiting factor for harder materials, is not so much the small brushless motor driving the spindle. The real issue is all of the degrees of freedom required to cut tapered wings/profiles with the bow (as its built into the mill gantry). The gantry is only pinned to the left side, to more or less a u-joint. The other side is supported, but is allowed to slide along the X axis. A typical gantry is pinned from both sides in a very rigid arrangement, while ours basically is a cantilevered gantry, and the corner is a u-joint, that is also allowed to rotate. This means our machine must sacrifice some rigidity for flexibility, but we feel for the purpose of cutting foam the trade off is well worth it.

The bottom line is that it can be done, if you have the right endmill, at a slow enough feed rate, with a shallow enough pass. As the machine is designed to cut foam, do not expect to be able to rip through plywood at 200ipm at 1/4 depth. Less then 10ipm at 1/32 (or less) is far more reasonable for this system and any harder material will obviously put more wear on the components.

I have cut 1/32 1/16 counter top material (Formica) for control horns.
I have cut 1/16 3/16 light plywood for firewalls.
I have cut 1/8 to 1/4 deep into MDF material for the table top.
I have cut 1/8 expanded PVC (almost like plastic) for firewalls.

I will try to get some more video up as soon as possible, and Ive got some balsa to try to chew up for testing as well, maybe Ill make some demo ribs.
Last edited by tvcasualty; Jan 18, 2013 at 01:10 PM.
Jan 18, 2013, 01:49 PM
Alien_Tech's Avatar

Thanks for the response. I have a laser, so the cutting part is no biggie for me. What I would like to do in addition to servo pockets, hinge lines etc, is to cut things like Corian or MDF to make plugs for molded parts like canopy's and cowlings. Do you see that being possible?
Jan 18, 2013, 06:02 PM
Erik with a K
tvcasualty's Avatar
I do understand the problem.
Unfortunately I do not believe this machine, designed as a foam cutter, is entirely capable of working with harder materials for that purpose. Given enough time, proper dust collection, and the correct end mill I believe parts could be made, however you would be extremely limited by the amount of material that could be accurately taken off at a time. A simple 3 axis mill would be much better suited for this process.

However, I do make mold parts with the machine, only they are made from foam.

I am limited by a 2" long end mill so I use blocks of 2" thick foam (1.875" actual) to cut my parts and then glue them together. Once assembled I will coat them with StyroSpray and they will be fine for several draws. If a longer lasting mold is needed a Plaster of Paris mold can be made from the first draw from the foam part. Obviously it's not a Corian or hardwood mold, but for hobbyist use it's a good low cost solution.

If your heart is really set on harder materials, using our basic platform, we are in the process adapting the machine to be a sole 3-axis mill. The 3 axis mill will not be able to wire cut, but will maintain the dimensions and rapid travel speeds of the original setup. The idea is a more conventional setup, capable of a full sheet of depon foam, yet providing more structure for harder materials to be cut. The price point will be about the same as the 6 axis machine, perhaps a bit less as fewer steppers are needed. Our goal is to have it ready for the Toledo Show this year.
Mar 19, 2013, 01:06 PM
Erik with a K
tvcasualty's Avatar


Just got in the latest shipment to assemble to have ready for sale at the Weak Signals show in Toledo this year. We've really refined our shipment process, and now include pre-wiring and pre-assembling on some of the more challenging parts. There is a lot of work involved in getting the parts ready like this, but the results are much worth it. Also we've streamlined the process to only sell the machine in white, so if one was to order one, this is now what it will look like.

I'll be adding more pictures as we assemble the machine from here.
If you are curious as how this all goes together take a look at some of the assembly reference drawings here:

Mar 19, 2013, 01:16 PM
EDF rules... :)
AirX's Avatar
Sweet, wish i could afford one...

Eric B.
Apr 02, 2013, 01:56 AM
Registered User
Kevin Matney's Avatar
Are you going to the Toledo Show?
Apr 03, 2013, 08:54 AM
Erik with a K
tvcasualty's Avatar
We are going to be at the Toledo Show!

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