On this page, Elliot reviews one of the newer StyroCut 3D models. Please note that this review should be read in conjunction with Elliot's original review.
Looking at the machine, very little has changed from the previous model, aside from some minor surgery to allow for the hand-held cutting attachment to be installed into the body of the machine. It is still made in the same grey, thermoplastic and has the same functionality as the original.
Unfortunately, the kit supplied did not include the hand-held cutting attachment and mine has a different set of ends, so I couldn't test the functionality of the new improved interface. I had a couple of burning (pun intended), questions concerning whether the bow-cutter would turn off while the hand tool was in place and how well it stayed seated in the socket during use but I would imagine, given the reliability and quality of the rest of the machine and its parts, TheCoolTool company would have thought about this and made the necessary changes to the power supply and the port to ensure the tool stayed in, and stayed hot. This is a much better setup and I'm glad TheCoolTool have made this minor change - it will certainly make life easier for people like me, who want to switch from the cutting wire to the hand-held tool quickly. I had to make some fairly big changes to my original to get this functionality that involved a drill and some electrical wire, so this is a GREAT improvement in my opinion.
Inside the box everything is the same as the previous one, the instructions have been condensed into a single booklet along with the modelling manual that was included separately in the previous kit.
The main problem I have with the instructions this time, is that they do not let you know that the assembly diagrams are at the BACK of the manual and it appears at first glance, that the manual has no diagrams for reference to help assembly (the other, older manual has the diagrams on the same page as the text). While it doesn't take a genius to find the diagrams it could alarm some people into panicking that either their kit's instructions are 'faulty' because they've misprinted the manual or that they have to figure it out for themselves. The diagrams themselves when you do find them (back of the book, last two pages near enough) are excellent, they let you know where everything goes easily and it has improved assembly over the original.
Another very minor problem, that won't affect you greatly, was the bar that is used to tighten the cutting wire or change its length was slightly rough (there was some minor casting marks on both sides) and was hard to insert into the hole, but in such a case, some slight sanding would be sufficient to make it run easier.
In the picture to the left you can see the flash line from the casting that is making the arm stick. Light sanding or moving it up and down will make it run easier.
The only other criticism I have is that it doesn't suggest what tools you might need to assemble it. Most 'flat-packed' products let you know what you need and again, while it doesn't require specialist training to find two screwdrivers and maybe some pliers, it would be handy to know before you start. Perhaps TheCoolTool could add something in the manual (first page or so) or a sticker on the box to say "requires one Philips screwdriver, one bladed screwdriver and a pair of pliers to assemble). It's not a major problem, and most people will already have something suitable in their toolbox I'd imagine.
I've been enjoying my original Styrocut 3D for a few years now and like the Unimat1, another of TheCoolTool's amazing products, I have grown to be very fond of this tool. I have tried many battery operated cutting tools and various bench tools and to have the functionality of a hand held tool (with the optional hand-held modelling tool) and the accuracy of a bench cutter that also has a stop rail and a circle cutter for around £100 sterling is amazing!
The quality and ease of use beats any of the rival hand held tools, and because it doesn't run on batteries and the wire can be changed easily (you can make any shape in the wire you can think of) it stays hot and gives you plenty of reasons to stock up on polystyrene! Hand tool aside, the bow cutter is only beaten by machines costing hundred's of pounds that are intended more for commercial use than this, but don't let its price put you off - this IS a hobby tool, but its also a COMMERCIAL tool (for low volume). TheCoolTool make their product\'s look good, work hard and safe enough for a child to use so even a marketing manager might be able to cut out letters with the Styrocut!
I don't usually cut anything very interesting out with my own Styrocut, so I thought I'd mark out some letters of my website name and go about cutting them instead. I chose some fairly old, bad quality beaded polystyrene to see if there where any changes to the tool's quality since version one, and I\'m very glad to say, there was no problem with cutting! I often have to use PVA (white woodworkers glue) to get my creations together, and I usually glue them before cutting, thankfully, even on the first setting the Styrocut 3D does its work cleanly and easily, there are no problems cutting glued polystyrene (just be sure to work in a well ventilated room), and very little beading (trails of poly that come from moving the polystyrene too slowly, or the tool cooling down too much, which is often seen with hand-held tools that use batteries).
you can see minor beading here on the letter, this was the worst of the letters I cut out. Turning the power up and taking your time usually stops this occurring. Experience, and good quality materials, as with anything is the key to a successful cut letter, but a little filler (because of the polystyrene not the cutter) and some paint and the letters would be fine.
I didn't use any particularly practiced technique, I just popped the letters out onto a piece of card from the computer in a big font, cut them out, drew around them and then cut them freehand with the Styrocut. The edges are clean and if I would have used the optional guide stop rail (I would suggest purchasing this item with your Styrocut if you plan on doing anything that requires very straight lines) they would have been perfect enough for use in a commercial sign.
To the left we have the finished pieces that took me little under five minutes to cut out (including time I took to print and cut them out of the card). For my first go with letters I was pleased, I rarely cut anything small and the polystyrene was old so they came out great considering everything.
Overall it is an excellent, well-made product that is fantastically priced, that has been made easier to use with the inclusion of the port for the modelling tool. Whereas before you had to dismantle almost all the machine to change cutting instruments, now you can just insert the modelling tool in the side of the machine!
I stick with my original pro's for the machine (please see my original article for the pro's), but the con's this time are really nothing; the manual could be laid out better with the assembly diagram and text together, and the vertical wire tightening bar was a little rough and needed sanding slightly, but that could just be the one I received.
|Useability:||5 out of 5 (very easy to use)|
|Price:||5 out of 5 (excellent price for the functionality)|
|Assembly:||4.5 out of 5 (-.5 for minor manual layout)|
|Overall:||4.5 out of 5 (I'd buy this tool again even at twice the price)|