Here is another emailed question from a user regarding power supplies and type of wire.
I was looking at your webpage regarding hot wire foam cutters. I tried making a cutter but it seems that I may have bought the wrong wire. I have a toy train transformer that cuts of in about 15 seconds after it heats the wire to cut. I bought fishing wire (stainless steel)... I am very frustrated with this and really want to make this work. I'm not interested in cutting foam but as I am in cutting PVC boards.
I would recommend spending a little time and cruise through my website, it has all the information you desire. But I think the Introduction Page may answer alot of your questions.
There are a few things, stainless steel wire does not have published heating/electrical requirements so a lot of it's use is experimentation. NiChrome wire is preferred because we know how much electricity it takes to heat different lengths and gauges. That information is located here.
It is unlikely that the train power supply will be effective for long term use. It wasn't designed to output the wattage (amperage (x) voltage) required to heat nichrome wire (or stainless steel wire) for extended periods of time or even short periods of time. Check out the power supply calculations page which will help explain why, and also provide you with ways of estimating your power supply requirements.
The Introduction Page does have some general power supply information, but on the Materials Page there is a link to recommended power supplies for general small scale use. You may end up spending a bit to get a decent power supply, but it is worth alleviating the headache! On the Materials Page you'll also find a link to purchase NiChrome Wire, but I have always had superior customer service and recommend Jacobs-Online for nichrome wire.
I know there wasn't a lot of content in this FAQ, but I just wanted to post so you can see the types of questions we receive. Also, I wanted to post the links to the website in case you too have similar questions. I always recommend people start out by reading through the introduction page for abridged notes to foam cutters.