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View Full Version : Cutting Foam with a laser



James Aldrich
05-15-2007, 2:18 PM
I was wondering how well does a laser cut foam? And is it safe for the laser? I am needing some box inserts for champagne flutes. I was thinking of using some cushion foam I found at the department store. The foam is used for padding of seats, etc. Found in the craft isle by the pillow and quilt stuffing. I would like to cut the foam to fit the boxes I use, as well as make cutouts for the glasses to fit into. The foam is white and about 1" thick. I have a 45 watt Helix and was wondering if it would work. And will it char the edges?
Thanks
Jim

Mitchell Andrus
05-15-2007, 2:40 PM
I use two layers of 1/2" foam for pen/pencil set gift boxes. Bottom layer to pad the bottom, the top layer to surround the product.

Any upholstery shop/fabric store will have a variety to try.

I haven't tried thicker.

A pic is here:
http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?t=57932

Dave Jones
05-15-2007, 7:47 PM
Foam can be made of various materials. To be safe you would need to use something that has a known composition, and that does not include PVC in it.

I've been considering cutting some foam padding material for boxing electronic equipment. One of my thoughts was to try making a clamping frame from thin plywood (1/32" or 1/16") to compress the foam before lasering it. I have no idea if that would work, but thought it might improve the cut since the depth of field of a laser is nowhere near the thickness of the foams I'm interested in.

Richard Rumancik
05-15-2007, 7:54 PM
I tried cutting white upholstery foam some time ago and I found that it yellowed on the edges. In thicker sections it left a sticky residue. My personal opinion is that you will have better luck if you can find some grey. Also I would consider two thinner sections and glue together (or leave loose if tight in a box and it does not cause a problem.) You may have to go to an industrial supply rather than an upholstery supplier. (Some place that sells foam for box or case inserts.) They would also have various densities to choose from. I would tend to go with a lighter foam if possible rather than a dense closed-cell foam which won't cut that well.

You also may have some problems with residual smell of the piece after cutting. Try to get a sample to test. I found a spray in automotive section of parts store for deoderizing upholstery on cars. Sometimes I will use a few drops on a foam part to mask the smell.

Rodne Gold
05-16-2007, 3:45 AM
Most foams act as waveguides , you can cut pretty thick sections , we have done up to 2" with nice straight sides , we cut polystyrene too.
We use a grey closed cell foam mostly , the same stuff you find in instrument cases.

Dave Jones
05-16-2007, 2:17 PM
Rodney, do you have a brand and/or product name/number for the gray closed cell foam? That sounds like exactly the kind of foam I'd like to try out, and any kind of starting point with a name or product that I can look up would help me find an equivalent material over here.

Rodne Gold
05-17-2007, 4:12 AM
We have a Co called Sondor Foams that stock a huge variatey of all sorts of foams , we got sample pieces from them and tried em , its a medium density closed cell foam.
Im in South Africa , so can't really help much in terms of US suppliers , but im sure if we have a place like tat here , there must be many more in the US.
Have a look at http://www.sondor.co.za and you can see what they offer. We use a lot of neoprene too , wetsuit type material

Dave Jones
05-17-2007, 2:25 PM
I wasn't looking to buy from your supplier, but was trying to see a specific product that you get from them so I can then find a supplier of something similar here.

For example, the supplier you linked to has dozens of foams. Which one are you saying is the one you like to laser? Once I can see their product info and specs for the one you like, I can then try to find something similar made over here.

Thanks.

Pete Simmons
05-17-2007, 2:58 PM
Not as high tech as a laser but I have seen it used with great results.

1. Freeze the foam!!
2. Use a Breadknife type of blade to cut it.


It cuts easy, smooth and straight.

Frank Corker
05-17-2007, 7:49 PM
When I used to buy foam the guy used to use an electric carving nice, did a reasonable job but a little rough around the edges, probably didn't have a freezer big enough!

Bill Cunningham
05-17-2007, 11:28 PM
When I was a kid, I was working at a Monsanto plant in north Toronto, welding in a stainless TDI line for their foam making plant.. The open cell stuff would come out like a 60 foot loaf of bread, and they would slice it all up to various sizes using a hotwire ..The birth of Sponge Bob :D