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Foam Wing Panels for CNC 4 axis cutting (Professional version)

Profili Pro offers an improved way to draw and cut foam wings using a 4 axis hot wire CNC machine

Why a new Foam Wing Panel for CNC cutting feature?

Before version 2.24 the creation of a foam wing panel for CNC cutting was possible by specifying as a template type: "CNC cutting".
This was a trick to create GCode, DAT or DXF files for 4 axis CNC machines, but with some limitation, as:

  • Input and output fast movements were not generated
  • No spars or lightening holes were managed
  • To place the foam block in the right position in the CNC machine was challenging
  • No control at all for max dimensions or travel limits of the carriages

Version 2.24 introduce a new type of foam wing panel for 4 axis CNC cutting.
Old CNC foam panels are automatically managed by this new technology.
The greatest news are:

  • Full management of all the path of both carriages, from the start home position to the end.
  • New parameter to describe your CNC machine as carriages distance and their max X and Y travels, to better control the right placement of the foam block
  • An unlimited number of spars and lightening holes is now managed, like for ribbed wing panels
  • You can specify an addictional input/output tangential path at the trailing edge, to drive the sheeting during its glueing
  • 3D simulation of the cutting job, to verify if all parametrs are ok, before starting the real cutting job

The interface is similar to the old one, with some adjustement to add the new features.

Once you created a new foam panel for CNC cutting, you can export the cutting file as GCode (the suggested option) or DAT, DXF, HPGL, or print the wing plan and  nose checking templates on a printer without limits in its paper format, or again export them in DXF, HPGL or G-code (to drive CNC machines).

How you can create a new Wing Panel for CNC cutting

Let's take a look at the way you can create a new wing panel for CNC cutting.
Simply click on the 'New foam panel for 4 axis CNC hot wire cutting...' function included in the menu and a dialog window will start in Wizard mode. You can navigate the wizard and select to save your work once you reached the last page. You can always go back to change the settings in all the pages, no limits at all.


Here is a fast preview of the wizard:

Wing plan setting:

In this page you can name the panel and set its plan form and size.

You can define the swept-back and root/tip incidence, to manage wash-out.

In the lower part of the window you can see the preview of the panel you are going to create. You can zoom it or take linear or angular measurements on it.

Airfoil selection:

Not a lot to say about this page, here you can select in the usual way the root-tip airfoils.In the next pages you can switch from wing plan to root-tip rib drawings.


Sheeting settings: 

You can set different sheetings for the upper and lower part of the panel. 

You can specify an addictional input/output tangential path at the trailing edge, to drive the sheeting during its glueing

About the Kerf  (thickness of the foam melted by the hor wire), you can select if:

  • - to use global values specified by Settings - Hot wire cutting parameters in the menu of wing panel management
  • - to use local defined values, saved in this panel

If the wing panel is tapered the kerf have different root-tip values. The wire in the shorter side will run slower, and more foam will be melted.


Spars setting:

This function is similar to the ribbed version.

By clicking the supplied buttons you can set immediately spars for a Delta-box like struct.

The actual (working) spar is highlighted in blue, so that you can find it easily in the drawing.

You can specifiy an upper or lower entry point for every spar, to minimize the cut length in the final foam panel. 

Lightening holes setting:

Great news for Lightening holes too!

You can now select a rib shaped type of hole, and you can also apply the automatic generation option. In this way Profili will create holes according to leading edge and spars placements.

Then, if you like, you can disable this option and fine tune them in manual way.

Foam block placement and setting

In this window you can define the placements of the foam block in the CNC machine and of the panel.

In the upper part you can see the max dimensions your CNC machine can manage.

Insert a T value for the foam block tickness large enough to keep the wing panel inside both at root and at tip sides.

Check for correct H values both at root and at tip.

The distances between the foam block and the carriages must be appropriate to keep the paths inside the carriages working area, without creating an inverted path at the shorter side of hard tapered panels. Use the Wing plan picture to evaluate a safe placement

If the placement is not correct, you will be prompted by a Red alarming text in the Wing plan picture.

If you are goint to cut a panel with a strong swept back, may be you have problems with the X run limit of the carriages. In this case you can select to rotate the panel, aligning the trailing edge with the cutting board. See the second picture as an example. As you can see the X run is shorter in that case.

You can also see the foam block dimension and the right dx value  you must use to proper place the foam on the board. You can get the same information also by the 'View - Foam block size and placement' menu of the application devSim4, during the simulation of the cutting work.

If you need to keep the foam block higher on the board, you can set a proper Offset Y value in the G-code file creation settings for foam cutting 4 axis CNC window. The Gcode will be created at the desired Y value. You can then check it with the cutting simulation process.

Leading and trailing edge cutting

You can cut a foam slice in the front and/or the rear part of the foam panel to insert then an addictional leading and/or trailing edge.

The leading and trailing edge cuts ar always vertical, unaffected by the swash out. Use some spars as leading edge or trailing edge cuts if you want them aligned to swash out.

If you apply all 0.0 values both at root and at tip of leading and trailing edges, you can use this function to cut the wing plan view of the foam block to the right final dimension of the wing panel (foam block shaping).

You can also set a safe dy value (over the foam block), used by the hot wire to cut spars with upper insertion point, lightening holes and leading / trailing edges.

The nose templates number let's you to define the quantity of templates you could optionally generate, equally spaced all along the panel length.

Latest section: cutting Path Simulation and printing format settings

Now you can verify by the Simulator if all the parameters are OK.

Here is what happens when you press the 3D simulation button:

G-code file creation settings for foam cutting 4 axis CNC

You can specify here some parameters about G-Code generation for a 4 axis CNC foam cutting machine

After pressing OK the Simulator will start:

DevSim4 : Simulation of the 4 axis CNC cutting job

devSim is a 3D application developed by the devCad Team.

Profili and Profili Pro uses devSim as a 3D viewer, to simulate the machining job and the final shape of the material block.

To use devSim is very simple.

You can use the mouse to move the material block in the screen

As started, devSim shows the machined material.    

You can go at the start of the cutting job and start it using the toolbar buttons.   



GCode generation :

After you have finished the creation a new foam panel for CNC cutting you can generate the GCode cutting file.

It includes both left and right carriages cutting paths. 

If you need cutting paths file of type  DXF, DAT or HPGL, open a new document using the "4 axis CNC - Open 2 Sheets with Cutting paths for printing and exporting" menu command. 

Dime di taglio pronte per la stampa

Cutting path document:

Here is the way a cutting path document will be drawn.

It includes 2 Sheets, one for the left and one for the right carriage.

You can export every sheet to a cutting file of type DXF, DAT o HPGL, or also to a GCode file including both paths. 

News of version 2.30: You can also create a .cut file GMFC compliant, so that you can use GMFC to drive your CNC foam cutting machine! 

I hope now you can understand better how Foam Wing Panel management works, and how it can help you.
This feature is full operative in the Professional version of Profili, but you can use it in demo mode in the base version.


Write to info@profili2.com or to st.duranti@alice.it for more info.

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