MPCNC-based foam cutter system

New Home Forum Builds and Things Built MPCNC-based foam cutter system

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    Profile photo of dkj4linux


    I’m posting this to the several relevant RC forums where I’ve started foam cutter threads, to acknowledge and express my appreciation for all the nice folks who’ve commented, encouraged, shared their ideas, and contributed in any way to the development of the MPCNC-based foam cutter… and to let you see an example of just how far we’ve come over the past year.

    First, I want to apologize for being so inactive lately and basically taking the summer “off”. I’ve actively kept up with all the great posts but contributed very little. Basically a lazy slob and living alone in my grandparents’ old farm house with no a/c in the Texas summer heat (hey! my grandparents did it…), I’ve been pretty un-energetic and hunkered down most of the time under a fan. But, now, the heat is starting to subside, fall is in the air (sort of…), and I’m starting to feel a bit more energetic again. So I’m now trying to un-clutter my path back to my machines and hoping to start being more active and useful again with all this foam cutter stuff.

    Of note, I promised one of my two 3d-printers to my son-in-law when he got settled in a bit more, so I have recently looked into getting another one. I’ve been rather spoiled having TWO printers to work with during all my MPCNC and foam cutter builds, so I really feel I NEED two printers going forward. I’ve been entirely pleased with the $300 FolgerTech 2020 All-aluminum Prusa I3 kit I ordered and built last year, so I looked there first… it’s very well supported, there is a lengthy thread dealing with it on the FliteTest forum, and IIRC Jason (jhitesma) also has one and seems quite pleased with it. Anyway, it is indeed still available (google it… it’s the ebay listing) so I ordered another one and now have it to build. It is another of my motivations for getting my workspace cleaned up and de-cluttered so I’ll have the room to actively get back to building stuff.

    Lastly, I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about all the MPCNC and foam cutter developments of the past year… and now — cheap! — VACUUM hold-down to boot! I think the magnitude of it all really hit me when Curtis (CartCurt), over on the FT forum, posted this picture of his very impressive, relatively inexpensive, and complete foam cutter setup… that wouldn’t exist today were it not for the collective contributions of all the nice folks in the several RC forums where all this development has taken place. What hobbyist RC’er in his right mind wouldn’t love to have a setup like that? Thank you all! — David

    Profile photo of Jason

    David, just want to say thank you again for your needle cutter design and promotion of the MPCNC! I saw the MPCNC on Thingiverse a few weeks before you posted on the FT forums about your needle cutter but dismissed it. I figured it was too much printing for something that didn’t look like it would actually be reliable and usable. Then I saw your post…and honestly kind of dismissed it as well because of your love of the MPCNC 😀

    But I kept reading because the needle intrigued me. And as I saw more of your success and others I became more interested in the MPCNC. And eventually decided I had to try and build one for myself since I’ve wanted a CNC machine even longer than I wanted a 3D printer. So after less than two months of owning my 3D printer I dug in on printing my MPCNC.

    My build ( has not gone quickly. And I don’t have your excuses for my slothfulness 😉 I do also live in the desert (even hotter than TX. This summer at least one source declared the hottest city in the US to be right here in Yuma AZ) but I do have A/C. And I’ve even been running A/C in my shop all summer since my MPCNC is out there. (which is why I printed mine in PETG, though some test parts I did in PLA and set out in the sun for the summer held up FAR better than I anticiapted – only the original motor mount plates failed without serious effort to deform them.) On the other hand I do have a young daughter who takes a lot of my time and only and hour or two a night that I can get out to my shop…and the computer out there is barely capable of running estlcam causing a lot of my lack of progress.

    Still progress has happened and I’ve had an absolute blast along the way. I started the project with the goal of cutting foam on 3’x4′ machine…but assembled it as a 2’x2′ first to keep things simple. Then had so much fun with it even at that size that I put off dealing with the needle cutter and expanding it 😀 Finally got the needle going and got it expanded and now I’ve got the wonderful problem of having more things I want to cut than I have time for 😀 Though I am still working on finalizing my own budget vac table before I really dig in.

    I will take a moment to plug a few things that MPCNC and David’s needle cutter inspired me to create/modify:

    My parametric version of David’s needle cutter design:
    It’s still a bit of a work in progress as I’ve only got “no mount” and hicwic’s mount on it so far…but I do plan on adding the new default MPCNC mount once I get the new Z parts printed for my machine. This update to David’s design was based on feedback from several other users who confirmed David’s theory that raising the motor higher would improve the wear aspects of the needle. But I went a bit further and made almost everything about the design parameterized so people can experiment and customize for their own needs.

    My square check tool:
    This came from a discussion on the MPCNC FB page where someone posted a link to a similar commercial tool and I thought “Hey, that looks like it could be printed”. My design isn’t perfect, the rotating section could be done better. But it works and it made things MUCH easier for me when I enlarged my machine and could no longer just reach across to hold a tape on opposite corners.

    My vacuum nozzle with offset:
    I just did this yesterday. I’ve been looking for a way to hook my shop vac to the vac table I’m building without having to drill a hole in my table. On his MPCNC (the one pictured in David’s post above) Curtis used a crevice tool to interface between his vacuum and vac table – I remembered seeing a customizer on thingiverse a few weeks ago for designing crevice tools…but it always made the nozzle centered. I wanted my nozzle offset so I could lay it flat on my table. So I made a few quick tweaks to the OpenSCAD and added an additional variable allowing the nozzle to be offset. It’s not perfect – the nozzle tapers in both X and Y at the bottom so the walls get very thin if you offset it too far…but it allowed me to print a nozzle that fit my needs.

    Even though I’ve done a lot with my MPCNC already I still feel like I’m just barely beginning on the journey and look forward to a long list of projects and plans that are now within my reach due to this machine.

    So once again big thanks to David for his needle cutter and promotion, and of course huge thanks to Ryan for designing this thing in the first place!

    Now if the weather would just cool off so I can feel safe ordering more PLA and printing the new upgrade parts 😀

    Profile photo of Neil

    I was hoping you would show up around here. Thanks for your work buddy. I plan on throwing one of these together this winter and cutting out some planes!!!

    Profile photo of dkj4linux

    Thanks, Jason and Neil, for the kind words. — David

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