Computational Design Lab

Cutter – Interactive Foam Cutter

Cutter is a tangible interface for generating three-dimensional digital models by hand crafting polystyrene foam. The user pulls, pushes, and rotates a custom hotwire cutter to sculpt, cut, and shape foam cubes.

The position of the cutting path is processed in real-time by a computer to visualize the cutting process and generate a 3D model. Cutter aims to provide an intuitive way to explore physical form by combining traditional craft with digital fabrication.

Cutter consists of a hotwire cutter, a holder, and a visualization program. When the hotwire cutter comes into contact with the foam it cuts a path that is processed by the computer into a 3D model. The cutter is constructed using thin wire heated by electrical resistance, a linear potentiometer to measure the distance the cutter has been pushed or pulled, and a rotary potentiometer to record the tilt angle.

The foam holder can be set in a stationary position or rotated via stepper-motor to allow more intricate and unpredictable forms. A real-time visualization shows the cube position, orientation, and cutting path on screen.

Created by: Kuan-Ju Wu &  Karl D.D. Willis

Author: Kuan-Ju Wu
Category: Projects