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CNC cutting machine can slice foam into any shape you desire

Why it matters to you

Looking for a desktop cutter that's different? A new machine on Kickstarter allows users to create works using polystyrene instead of plastic or wood.

What does the overwhelming number of CNC (Computer Numerical Control) tools available on the market say to you? If your answer is that “there are clearly too many,” stop reading now. If, on the other hand, your response is “people obviously like them; let’s see some more,” then you’re in luck!

That’s because a new high-precision cutting machine has just arrived on Kickstarter — and it’s bound to be of interest to many of you would-be “makers” out there. Called P400, this is a high-precision desktop cutter with a difference, since the material it uses to slice and dice isn’t your usual wood or plastic, but rather cheap and normally disposable polystyrene.

“We are in a period in which 3D printing leads the market, but we strongly believe that there are a lot of applications in the CNC world that are equally interesting and useful,” co-creator Flavio Prattico told Digital Trends. “Polystyrene is a really poor material, but it is really easy to work, and with few post-processing, you can obtain awesome objects. This is why we love it! [By ‘poor’], I mean it is cheap, not nice as it is — like wood — and in people’s minds is a material just for packaging.”

As with other CNC machines, users create the shape they want to cut out on a computer. The P400 machine then goes to work with its tiny blade by cutting out the pattern exactly. It’s very fast, and impressively accurate — meaning that you’ll be able to not just cut straightforward shapes but also more detailed one such as puzzles, stencils, or even individual words and letters.

The advantage of polystyrene is that, while it’s far from the world’s most durable material, its cheapness means that you can create your works without spending much in the way of capital.

P400 is currently available to pre-order on Kickstarter, with prices set at 299 euros ($316). Shipping is set for September, and supplies are limited.