Here are some advanced considerations when using, improving, or constructing a hot wire foam cutter. This page is under construction, more info coming soon.
Wire Life
Methods to increase the cutting life of a wire:

Do not power down the hotwire if you have lots of cuts to do. Yes, leaving the hot wire on reduces its life, but very frequent on and off cycles do more so. A good rule would be, if your going to make a cut within the next 30 seconds, leave the hotwire on between cuts. If you have a variable supply turn the power low for 10 seconds before turning off. This allows the wire to anneal a little before cooling. This makes the wire less brittle; reducing the risk of damage in storage and when powering back up for the next cut.
Cutting Different Materials
Cutting different types of materials require different settings and techniques. Some materials simply should not be cut with a hotwire. As a general rule the lower the density the better it will cut with a hotwire. This site is called for a reason; foam is mostly air and melting the small amount of plastic in the foam is fast and economical. That said, hotwires also have many other applications cutting films and thin plastics. As a hobbyist here are some ideas:

What a hot wire can cut:
  • Thermoform plastics and foams (Nylon, PVC, Polystyrene, ABS, HDPE, LDPE, PP, EPP foam, polycarbonate, teflon PFTE, etc)
  • Waxes and candels
  • Synthetic fabrics

What a hot wire can NOT cut:
  • Themoset plastics( epoxy, fiberglass, etc)
  • Natural fabrics
  • Glass, Wood, Metal (obviously)
Cutter Reliability
Methods for reducing heat at the electrodes
Tensioner Designs
Variable Power
Is it better to have variable voltage or multiple wire sizes?