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RE: Cutting of polystyrene foam


I wouldn't rule out hot wire cutting so soon unless you have some monitoring
data that shows emissions are excessive. I remember Mattel(?) sold a
workshop toy many years ago where you cut styrofoam "wood" with a hot wire
powered from a D cell battery. As for cutting speed and keeping the hot wire
clean, that would be the big issue.

The idea of using an anti-static spray is good but you have to be careful of
the downstream processes.  Anything with silicone oil is a no no if you then
need to paint the item.  And if you can tolerate a wet spray, then you might
be able to adopt wet cutting. You can circulate clean water while cutting
and this will neutralize any static charge. It will also eliminate dust

Finally, you can also look into the use of ionized air to neutralize the
charge. A company call Exair (don't know if they are still around) sold a
device that would pump ions into an air stream that would then be blown
across a nonconductive surface that you wanted to keep clean.  Static cling
is a problem where ever you have a moving web of nonconductive material.  I
would try to set up this ionized air flow so that it blows across the foam
and into the vent system.  This would give you a push-pull arrangement.

Good luck solving this interesting problem,


-----Original Message-----
From: Kirsten Koepsel [mailto:kkoepsel@arri.uta.edu]
Sent: Wednesday, October 17, 2001 1:01 PM
To: p2tech@great-lakes.net
Subject: Cutting of polystyrene foam


We have a customer who uses a extruded polystyrene foam inside a 
structure that they put together. Currently the foam is cut with a blade
generates a dust that tends to stick to the foam. They have to spend 
excessive time cleaning the foam dust from the parts which increases 
production time. They do have a dust collector but apparently the majority
the foam dust tends to stick to the foam instead of being sucked up by the 

I am hypothesizing that when the foam is cut that a static charge is set-up 
and this causes the foam dust to attach itself. Someone had suggested 
using heat blades to cut the foam but I find that impractical because of the

styrene generated by the cutting.

Is there a way to cut the foam without generating excessive clean-up time? I

was suggesting that they spray the foam with anti-static spray like you buy 
in the grocery store to see if that would reduce the sticking foam dust.

Switching foam at this time is out due to the rapid increase in their
over the last month and they are trying to meet demand for their product (a 
future consideration).

Thank you.


Kirsten M. Koepsel
Registered Patent Agent
Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center
7300 Jack Newell Blvd., South
Fort Worth, TX  76118

817-307-0595 (cell)
817-272-5977 (fax)
kkoepsel@arri.uta.edu (e-mail)

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