Cutting neoprene sheet cleanly
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  1. #1
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    Default Cutting neoprene sheet cleanly

    Hello all. I have a job which requires cutting neoprene foam. The end net shape of the supplied material is a basic rectangle and the material is 3/16” thick. There are ten parts total. Does any one have any proven technique to cleanly cut this material? Ive so far tried a utility blade and an exacto knife without any acceptable finishes. Anyone?

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    I used to make allot of prototypes of die cut parts in various materials. many tricks,
    number one is to lay out your part on stiff paper, like butcher paper or a manila folder. then cut that out to make a pattern, then transfer that pattern by using a sencil brush and a bit of gray latex paint, this works really well.

    if knife cutting, use brand new single edge razor blades and be prepared to change them often. like every 12 inches,

    I had many arch punches in different shapes, ie hammer punches. we would use these to punch round holes and to punch out corners.

    lots of times we would use a scroll saw with a wider blade, say 3/16 wide with the set filed off, with a little practice, this can give excellent results.

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    Would help to know the overall size.

    If it fits, I'd try a paper cutter or a shear.

    Sent from my SM-T560NU using Tapatalk

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    Kitchen shears.

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    I use a box cutter, sharp blade and a cutting pad. It is not perfect, and good technique helps prevent the stragglers on the edges. I got a quote from a company that waterjet cuts rubbers. My stuff is all EPDM with an adhesive backing but I have done some neoprene with adhesive backing. The paper backing helps I think. Do multiple depths of cut and it goes easier, if the material is thicker than 3/32"

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    Did you use a new x-acto blade? "Looks sharp" doesn't mean much. For what you're doing I would use the x-acto #11 (fits the small diameter handle). Also, You have to make multiple passes along a steel straightedge with low-moderate pressure until you get through. Neoprene will dull the blades relatively quickly, so you'd need several extras.The hardest part is keeping the knife square so you don't end up with a slanted edge. It takes time and patience.

    3/16 is quite thick, and you might benefit from a lubricant to help keep the 'grab' down. Fortunately, neoprene is resistant to most common lubes. I gather from your description that you are making straight cuts? Curves can be done the same way, but they won't be as smooth.

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    I have a large pair of upholstery shears that work quite well

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    The xacto knife I used was indeed a #11 with new from the box blade, as was the utility blade. I also have tried a paper cutter of dubious sharpness and it grabbed and cut a slight arc. I am going to try the scroll saw with a sharpened toothless blade, it sounds promising. I also have a sample in the freezer, but think the cold wont help in such a low durometer material.

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    Honestly, std wood bandsaw will give a clean cut and square edge, stationary blades will squish the cut edge and make a hollow edge. ultimate is a ocsilating blade, ultra sonic all the better, a sharpened knife edge blade in a ocsilating saw is anouther great way to go, helps to have a little tooth to the sharp edge too, so say of a bench grinder stone, not mirror polished and honed.

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    deWalt sells a carbide edged box cutter blade.
    They last foreverish.

    For foams and compressible rule cutting works well as long as the rules stay sharp.

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    Sheet metal shear, I use an old pexto 36” manual foot model for all gasket and rubber material.

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    There's an electric tool used by upholstery shops for cutting foam. Basically a reciprocating carving knife attached to a base. Would be foolproof for this cut. Give it's low volume perhaps you could take it a furniture refinishing place and have them make the cut.

    If it was me, I'd sandwich the neoprene between two lengths of bar stock and use a brand new carpet blade.

    Otherwise the other suggestions.

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    laser cuts rubber nice. didnt think much of it til i saw laser cut stuff. does a really nice job

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    If all else fails, you could try grinding it. Make a pair of blanks from a rigid material, rough cut the foam, sandwich it between the blanks, and grind flush. Just make sure to use a consistent pressure because the amount of compression will affect the edge position.

    Freezing might help as well for a regular cut. The foam is such a low effective "durometer" because it is filled with air pockets. The actual elastomer material will likely still be around 70 Shore A, maybe as low as 50. If you do, keep in mind that rubbers have a huge CTE, and freezing it might cause dimensions to move around .005" per inch. Not sure how much being a sponge impacts that.

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    Mount a small diameter wire in a fixture and connect a battery source at both ends. Use enough current to heat the wire.
    Use a fence and guide your material into the wire. See if that cuts good enough.

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    bandsaw works well for the rubber belts i make. high sfm~ 1500, and a 14 tpi x 5/8 band works well. if it wants
    to bind in the insert, i put 1/4" plywood under it to stabilize the material .

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    Shears/scissors as stated by a few others. MMC has them for rubber and fabric specifically. Should be a piece of cake.

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    Surprised no one has mentioned knife bands for the bandsaw. My "go-to" blade for cutting all types of foam.

    Bob

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    Low power CO2 laser-engravers work well (most sign and trophy shops have them); if a precise dimension is required, the size will need to be adjusted for the kerf of the laser.

    For cutting those types of materials by hand (and things like extruded polystyrene foam sheet, foamcore board, etc) where the geometry and number of parts is reasonable, a common NEW single-edged razor blade works best, they have a much thinner (and sharper) blade than xacto and utility blades (I see someone suggested the same above, and as noted, the blades must be changed often (at least you get two "corners" (if really cheap, you can break or grind them to get a fresh edge or different shape), also use them mounted in blocks for trimming veneers, etc.

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    what KIND of neoprene?

    You can also use a rotary cutter if it's neoprene foam.

    If it's neoprene rubber, I wouldn't expect it to work.

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