The Phlatprinter CNC Foam Cutter

The Phlatprinter is a home-built CNC cutter designed and built by Mark and Trish Carew. It is designed to cut flat media (think foam) to be folded into 3d models. Foam radio-controlled airplanes are just one example from the gallery, but I imagine it could be very useful in Architecture as well.

The cutting of the foam is done with a Dremel tool which is mounted in a "printer" box. The foam (up to 1.5 inches thick) is driven back and forth through the machine with a drive roller and the Dremel is moved side-to-side and up and down to make the cuts. You can watch the videos of  how it works. The Phlatprinter can handle material up to 22" wide and unlimited length.

The CNC control software is PC based, so you can design your parts and send them to the phlatprinter using the same computer. The software is called Mach3 and is available on this site.

The best part is that you can use SketchUp to create models. You create your model in 3D using SketchUp, unfold your design to 2d in SketchUp, and then send it to the phlatprinter to be cut out. The phlatprinter comes with a SketchUp plugin to export the flattened model to a format which the CNC software can understand.

You can purchase plans to build your own phlatprinter; or better yet, you can purchase a kit from the store to build your own which includes everything you need to build a fully-functional phlatprinter. The cost seems very reasonable - well within the hobbyists budget.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I would like to know if it possible to use sketchup in my CNC (Weeke Vantage 33) it has it's own sofware (WoodWop - no as easy as sketchup in use) Roman Ch
romakach@aol.com

Jim Foltz said...

It may be possible. The Phlatprinter uses a Ruby plugin to generate the code for the Mach3 CNC controller.

It looks like your CNC software can use DXF, which can be exported from SketchUp Pro.

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