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What is the best way to cut foam board?

Printers and sign makers need to cut and finish foam board or Foamex quickly and cleanly. Effective foam board cutting speeds up production, reduces waste, and increases profitability.

Cutting your own foam board is easy and gives you control over the quality, supply, and costs.

Keencut is the market-leading manufacturer of precision manual cutting machines for the sign-making, digital printing, and wide-format printing industries.  We have used our experience to detail the essential points to consider when choosing your method and machinery for cutting foam board.

7 essential points to successful foam board cutting

1. Buy a versatile cutter

Invest in a cutter that cuts various materials and can cut foam board up to a thickness of 13mm. Your business requirements and opportunities may change over time, and the more versatile your cutter, the less need for repeated capital expenditure. Look for a cutter bar that will cut a range of materials such as foam board, banner materials, cardboard, plastics, fabrics, papers, films, even aluminium composite panels. Buying a cutter that can cut rigid, semi-rigid and flexible materials will increase your flexibility.

2. Cut foam board with an accurate, clean, perfect finish

Ultimately, quality counts. There is no point in creating a great signboard and trimming it badly. The quality finish of a packed box of uniformly cut foam board signs always impresses the customer. You need a smooth, clean cut. Poor foam board cutting leaves jagged edges, dust, and debris.  Make sure the quality finish is perfect irrespective of the thickness of the board. You also want a cutting process that does not leave dust and debris all over your finished boards, especially if laminating, or your workshop. Perfect finish and precision accuracy reduces waste and so increases profit.

3. Speed up production with a better foam board cutting process

Cutting and trimming foam board can be extremely time-consuming. Choosing a cutter that quickly completes the cutting process is essential, but only if it cuts accurately and cleanly. The dramatic increase in production speed offered by a quality machine comes from the material set-up and alignment speed. It is the ease of set-up that has a direct impact on productivity and so profits. It is not about slicing as fast as you can. There can be a tendency to execute the cut too quickly, which can result in a ripping action. To cut foam board, you need a steady cutting action and for the board to remain in place. The blade will act like a wedge if you cut too quickly, leaving a rough, uneven cut. Also, remember that cold boards do not cut as well, so bring them to room temperature before cutting. You need a machine that allows you to accurately align the material, cut perfectly and then move quickly to the next board.

4. Clamp foam board securely without damaging the surface 

Your printed foam board needs to be held securely for cutting but in a way that does not damage the printed surface. You need a precision cutting machine with a clamping system that holds the board firmly without marking the surface. You also want to be able to make fine adjustments, so the clamp needs to lower and then hover just above the surface of the material before you fully engage the clamp.


5. Effortlessly cut even thick foam board 

Cutting foam board is a repetitive task, so comfort and ease of cutting are vital. Even with the thicker boards of up to 13mm, you should be able to cut with minimal effort. Your cutter needs to offer a smooth passage up and down the length of the cutter bar, with zero sideways movements to ensure a perfectly straight line.

You should be able to adopt a posture that effectively uses your body weight to aid the cutting process. The cutting tool head should be comfortable in your hand for pushing and pulling actions, whether you use your left or right-hand. Look at the effort required for each cut and how the cutting head feels in your hand – remember you will be using this machine all day every day.

6. Cut foam board safely

This sounds obvious, but you need to be safe. Using a metal rule and hand knife is both risky and less accurate than using a professional cutter. Every aspect of the cutting machine should be designed to ensure your safety. Look at whether the blades automatically retract, and how easy and safe is it to change blades.

7. Buy a cutter bar that will last

You need to be confident in the durability of the cutting machine you choose. This unit will become the workhorse of your workshop, and it should be built to last and remain accurate.

There are some essential features to consider. The cutting track should be heavy-duty steel, and the interchangeable tool heads must have steel bearings to maintain accuracy and ensure durability. The whole unit should be manufactured from the highest quality materials and always look for a good guarantee and a guaranteed accuracy rating.


Keencut has a range of machines for those working in busy production facilities or areas with occasional cutting needs. With Keencut cutters, you will cut and finish each board cleanly and accurately, with no debris. Our cutters’ have zero sideways movement and rigid blade clamping to provide the perfect blade control required for an exact straight line and spot-on accuracy – there’s no expensive wastage.

The majority of Keencut cutting machines have a stated and guaranteed level of cutting accuracy for the entire length of the cut. The cut and finish are achieved in a single action, with only the thickest materials benefiting from a two or three pass score and cut.  We also manufacture all our components in-house so that we can ensure quality and offer a 5-year guarantee.

With Keencut cutters, everything from setting up the cutter, aligning the material, ensuring accuracy, and quickly moving to the next cut has been considered. From the heavy-duty strength of the vertical Keencut SteelTrak cutter to the innovative Lift-and-Hover system of the Keencut Evolution3 range, Keencut machines have unique market-leading features which improve your production process.

Watch our customer case studies to hear how quickly and dramatically Keencut products increased productivity and improved quality.

You can just click the product names here to find out more about the Keencut Evolution3 range or the Keencut SteelTrak.

If you would like more information on Keencut precision cutting machines, just ask our Live chat team now, or email us.


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