The Story of Foamlinx and WeCutFoam - How it all began
In the summer of 2001 Tal, a Silicon Valley resident, was working as an application engineer, creating one of the first chips for MP3 music player devices. He loved his job but was looking for an opportunity to share his creativity and skills with others. He's always had the “entrepreneur rush” in him - His dad has been developing medical 3D printers and other devices for over 50 years and Tal was always on his side learning from him and assisting him. Tal started working as a company employee since his 20’s, but always wanted to be his own boss working on his own ideas.
One of his hobbies was flying RC planes and so he used to go to local parks flying RC planes and helicopters with his boys. Tal was thinking of ways he could cut those wings of the planes smoothly and accurately, as these were not straight shapes,
He went home and started researching. He found out that all these RC models were made of foam, a material that enables the models to be lighter yet stronger.
He started working in the garage developing his first foam cutter. It was a very simple user-friendly machine that would be able to cut various types of foam. He basically worked around the clock, keeping his engineering day job and working enthusiastically on his new “invention” over nights and weekends. The machine he developed was a CNC hot wire foam cutter, meaning it was controlled by a computer fed with a drawing file of the shape to be cut and using a wire that melts the foam in advance of contact. Upon completion of his first foam cutter prototype he put it for sale on eBay. He did not expect much as he was yet to learn about this market, only to find out that there was a great demand for this product. The machine was sold as a prototype within hours.
But Tal was still not ready to make this his entire world. He decided at this point that he wanted to share his creation and his knowledge with other RC flyers enthusiasts and so he created 8Linx – a free and friendly website helping visitors create their own CNC hot wire foam cutting machines, using simple parts found in any hardware store. He even put his idea on “Instractables” – DIY How to Make website.
Instructibel - Do It Yourself
Tal continued developing and improving his foam cutters, manufacturing different sizes, creating specific machines to cut 2D and also 3D shapes. His wife says the garage as well as parts of the house were filled with foam pieces and bids, but she came to terms with it understanding that he found his passion and was infatuated by the foam world.
Tal collaborated with his father who was working in China at that time, and together they have designed a new line of foam cutters.
The garage, which was a great starting point, was now becoming too small to accommodate the machines. Tal rented a small warehouse in Sunnyvale and created Foamlinx.
He discovered that almost endless numbers of industries were buying his machines; architects, sign shops, construction and building companies, museums, packaging companies, research facilities, universities and academic institutes, to name only a few. Turns out that there are so many products around us that are made of foam, and the demand for Foamlinx’s foam cutters grew bigger every day.
In summer 2006, as the space became too small for the company, Tal decided to take a leap. At a stage where the economy was not doing so great he took a risk and quit his paying engineering job. He then decided to move again, this time to an even larger facility in Sunnyvale to be a home for his large foam cutters and routers, some a large as 10ft and more, occupying a room of its own.
With his wife joining him at the company, Foamlinx became an LLC, employing personnel with engineering background as well as artistic abilities. Tal then noticed that apart from a need for the machines there is a vast demand for foam cutting services; and so, WeCutFoam, a subsidiary of Foamlinx was born.
Under WeCutFoam he started creating anything from foam - custom props for amusement parks, weddings, events, museum exhibits and trade shows, packaging and tooling cases, dimensional signs, letters, logos, prototypes, foam sculptures, art work and any project made of foam; all using Foamlinx machinery.
Tal keeps “feeling the market and its needs” and so he is constantly adding more services and products, including coating, carving, artistic painting, 3D printing and scanning, machining and laser cutting.
Some of the company’s larger projects included the creation of BAMScape – Berkeley Art Museum interactive exhibit,props, sets and background created for Sean Parker’s Wedding, fabricating the Whispering Dishes Live Zone exhibit for the Exploratorium and the City of San Francisco, creating logo signs for Disney stores, Pixar, DreamWorks, CBS, Ted Conferences, eBay and many more.
ome of the largest most successful companies today have made their humble small start in their garages. Amazon, founded as a book store by Jeff Bezos operating from a garage in Washington. Apple, started by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak sold their first computers from a garage in Cupertino, CA. Disney started in his house garage in Anaheim. Google, Harley Davidson, Hewlett-Packard and many more all started at a small garage.
A company is not built to succeed in one day. It is a long, gradual and patient process. As one might say “It is not where you start, it’s where you end up and the road that took you there."
The company has come a long way from a prototype made in a garage to a company selling its products world-wide. Foamlinx machines are currently used in construction, architecture, fine arts, packaging, sign shops, museums, universities, research, UAV, aerospace, aeronautics, hobby shops, movie sets, theaters and more.
Tal and his team members are dedicated to keep expanding and developing new tools and services, not for a greed of money, but because at Foamlinx we truly enjoy and love what we do and we also believe in giving back to our community. We often participate in sponsored events, such as Formula SAE Competitions, ASCE Concrete Canoe Competitions between universities, school events and many more.
Tal and his team will continue to put every effort and their innate abilities into manufacturing high quality machinery and foam props and helping companies world-wide build a better tomorrow.