View Full Version : Milling Plastazote LD33 closed cell Foam - Any milling advice?

05-03-2017, 05:29 PM
Hey guys,

I've got some nice Plastazote LD33 closed cell foam https://www.efoam.co.uk/zotefoam-plastazote.php

My intention is to make some nice tool drawer inserts for the CNC (e.g. here is the model so far for one drawer - haven't placed all tools yet:


So far my experimentation has led me to conclude that it likes very fast feed rates and relatively low RPM, but i still haven't got super clean results out of it yet.

I'm currently just playing with an 8mm 2 flute helical carbide end mill that's designed for aluminium as that's the only tool I have that's long enough. I have ordered some long foam specific straight 2 flute cutters - one 3x32mm and one 4x42mm, but those will take a little while to get here as they are coming from aliexpress.

So with the 8mm 2 flute, the best I have tried so far is 6000mm/min and 10,000rpm, and for whatever reason it much prefers conventional milling to climb milling... all of which gave me this on my little test block (ignore left corner, that's where the top layer of foam didn't heat weld very well to the bottom layer):


Has anyone played with this stuff before? Any advice as to feeds/speeds/cutter types?

I'm guessing that the smaller diameter end mills might be quite useful in bringing the effective speed down without having to drop rpm below what the chinese spindle is happy with.

Cheers for any input!

Boyan Silyavski
06-03-2017, 02:10 PM
Nice one! Is it a kind of elastic a bit? Or its like dense insulation foam? the fact that is Bicolor is amazing.

The latter i cut using finishing speeds for wood, hence 16k rpm and 1800mm/min. I have never played much adjusting speeds, as this worked from the beginning with nice finish. Then i am adjusting depth.

06-03-2017, 02:21 PM
It's got good structure but somewhat soft and giving if you squeeze it... Nothing like a rigid insulation foam, and it bounces back rather than crushes. I believe that it's a type of polyethylene foam which is available in various densities - this one is 30kg/m3

It's actually two sheets - one 30mm yellow and one 5mm black. The plastazote stuff is available in black, white, red, blue yellow or they have some cheaper similar foam in black and white only. You can then heat weld them together (carefully!) using a hot air gun to create the bi-colour piece.

I've managed to find some clean looking machining of similar looking foam where they were using single flute down cutter, so i've ordered two of those (a 3mm and a 6mm) to have a try with.


10-03-2017, 12:01 PM
Right, nailed it I'd say!

The below is using a 6mm single flute down cut bit (belin). Conventional rather than climb, 16,000rpm, 3000mm/min feed rate and 15mm step down (except the test collet cut out was done with a ramping helix to get the wall angle smooth).

Came out nice and clean - now I'm happy to move on to actually making the proper inserts.



11-03-2017, 12:01 PM
Well, milled really nicely but It was stuck down too firmly and i couldn't pull it off the bed without ruining the foam :miserable:

At least I have some spare material.... sigh


26-03-2017, 06:42 PM
Quick video of milling this stuff:


What I learned in case anyone is interested in having a go:

- When making multi layer stuff, it's much easier to use 3M super77 spray glue to stick the layers together... that is the glue that my research turned up and you can get it in this country for a fair enough price from farnell. While heat welding works, I found it quite tricky to get the right balance between hot enough to get a good weld and not too hot to deform or damage the foam.

- Down cut router bits are definitely the way forward, gives a much cleaner edge.

- Never climb! Conventional milling all the way.... climb gives a truly awful edge finish.

- If you ever get any foam stuck on the bit, hit feed hold immediately and clear it off... it can very quickly give you a fuzzy edge cut.

- Fast feeds are good, but single flute cutter is quite happy whizzing through at around 3,000mm/min or even less which is well within the reach of most machines.

Boyan Silyavski
26-03-2017, 06:59 PM
So you have mastered it it seems. I think you need now a dust shoe :joker:

26-03-2017, 07:11 PM
I do have one actually that i made a while ago - I just need to get the magnets to finish it off and actually use it!



Boyan Silyavski
27-03-2017, 12:58 AM
Great, is that the Chinese 70mmx3mm brush? How does it perform? I am thinking o buying from aliexpress to check it

27-03-2017, 09:00 AM
This is the one I used:


Seems fine. On my first dust show I used some from an American place that had a neater rubber moulding around the top rather than the cloth, but they don't seem to sell it anymore. This was all I could find when doing my second one, but it seems okay.

19-11-2017, 06:05 PM
How did you get the caliper and knife shapes in Fusion360?

20-11-2017, 12:46 PM
Take a photo with the component you want to use, preferably with a ruler next to it for scale. Try to get things lined up as square as you can and it helps to take photo from further away with a zoom if possible to flatten the image. For best results keep the component in the centre of the image away from the border to avoid any potential issues with lens distortion.

In fusion, import the photo and scale it using either the ruler in the picture or a known distance on the component itself. Rotate and move the canvas so that it is where you want and then just draw around it using line tool and splines. I tend to hug the thing as close as possible and then do a sketch offset to achieve an acceptable tolerance.