4

Since I have never heard of one outside of this stack I was curious and looked into the use of the hot wire cutter.

Most to the instructional video that use it either don't discuss, or glaze over, safety features of the tool.

What need I be aware of when using this tool? What safety precautions should I observe?

I am sure there are different manufacturers and tools variants but the advice should be the same mostly all around.

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  • Not sure if I have to specify handheld or not yet. – Matt May 29 '16 at 1:18
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The majority of the safety recommendations relate to the fact that this is a hot wire cutter.

  • Use caution near the wire. It is hot and can burn you. Keep fingers and hands out of the way. (I was once stupidly holding the wire section of my hot wire cutter while chatting to another student, and the cutter got plugged in. I had an very straight burn across all my fingers and a fun story to share in safety discussions.)
  • If setting the hot wire cutter down between cuts, make sure it is not on a flammable surface (e.g., paper, plastic, oily rags...)
  • After you're done using it, unplug and make sure it is completely cool before putting it away. (This happens quite quickly, though. The extremely small volume of the wire means it heats quickly, and cools quickly.)

Many of the foams cut with hot wire cutters or hot knives produces smelly, irritating smoke and fumes when heated (and some can be toxic). So, it's important to have adequate ventilation. This means outdoors, or with windows/doors open, or with specialized equipment (e.g. a fume hood). Always research any material that you work with (e.g., by requesting and reading the MSDS) and understand the risks involved and suggested remedies.

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