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Robot Foam Cutter

By Jurgen G Schmidt |

In the course of making stuff for myself and my customers, I frequently perform tedious tasks that could be automated. One of these is cutting foam sheets from a large roll. In the picture you see the roll of foam I start with and the desired end result, which is a stack of 12" by 71/4" pieces of foam. I've used paper cutters, rulers and razor blades, and so on and always dreaded when I ran out and had to cut more.

I've been experimenting with the Actobotics™ robot assembly system from ServoCity, and while cutting my last batch of foam realized that I should be able to make an affordable machine to do this for me.

While you may not need a machine to do the same thing, this Instructable may give you some ideas for automating some of the tedious things you need to do.

To keep things simple, I used stepper motors. I can control exactly how many full or partial revolutions they make. Then I don't need to use any limit switches or measuring tools. While this simplifies the design, it does require some precision so that there is no slippage. I use a cogged belt to move the carriage back and forth. A specified number of motor steps will move it to one end, and the same number of steps will return it to the original position. The foam material is fed by some toothed wheels (gears) that grab it firmly enough to measure out an exact amount but not firmly enough to damage the foam sheet. Some experimenting was needed to come up with the right combination of materials and mechanics to get this to work right. I hope you enjoy the results.

Other Parts:

  • Low-profile socket-head 6-32 screws from Fastener-Express
  • RepRap Timing Belt Pulley for 5mm shaft, 5mm pitch (eBay)
  • Angle-aluminum guide 1/2" x 1/2" x 1/8" x 14" long
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