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Unread 09-14-2013, 07:23 PM   #1
Jacecam32
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Experimental Trip down PVC Foam Lane

Greetings Boys and Girls and Inbetweens of all ages. I've recently acquired a large sheet of PVC foam. Initially It was for ONE weapon prop. BUT it being a 4x8 foot piece I'm going to try my hand at making armor with it. The Character is going to be Iskander From Fate Zero.

I've not heard much on the use of PVC foam (but this being my 3rd costume I don't have too much experience) But since I know Worbla/Wonderflex goes for like 80 Bucks a 39"x59" Sheet and you normally have to double it up. this PVC foam Sheet I got was 30 bucks (Canadian) for a 1/8th" sheet. and I could have gotten it at 1/16" but didn't. Why because REASONS! (I love you Mr. Torque Flexington)

So last night I discovered that this stuff is Heat Treatable (well bendable at the least) This morning with some help from a room mate and much prepared-ness (Oven mitt and a fan just in case) I went about my task of creating a gauntlet.

It worked really well. It bends and doesn't need to get too hot. It takes a bit of muscle but when it cools it easily holds it shape. I bounced my heat gun from hi to Low and had little Issue with it. It didn't burn or scar at first the oven mitt made imprints on the top of the material which I was worried about but running the heat gun over it again pushed to flower pattern out of it. I was even able to take the Oven Mitt off and curve it by hand.

All In all so far this is a great Cheap alternative. Because you can get PVC foam in many thickness's and Colors as well. I might Suggest more 1/16" for more form fitting armor pieces. Because it can be cut easier.

I've never had the chance to work with Worbla/Wonderflex. Partly because its price tag always scared me away. and the fact that you have to double it up to get any kind of solid rigidity (even 4 layers I've heard from some people) Not everyone has like 2-400 dollars to throw down on a costume I Suggest PVC foam for any beginning Cosplay artist. I will be doing a couple of experiments with the foam over the next couple of weeks/Months and I will keep everyone Informed on how they go.

If you have any experiments that you would like me to try with the PVC foam for cosplay let me know I will do what I can with the spare pieces I will undoubtedly have left over
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Unread 09-15-2013, 04:30 AM   #2
StabbityBlkMage
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GG man! Glad you're going to go the PVC route. It's soooooo cheap compared to Worbla and Wonderflex, but I'm not going to complain if we get to be special snowflakes in the cosplay world for awhile while people continue to write it off as an armor/prop material hahaha. Shorter lines at the store.

Yeah man that "Low" setting on the heat gun is amazing. I stopped using the "High" setting for a good long while and you really just get more control on the "Low" setting. GL to you man! Post some stuff when you get more progress up!
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Unread 09-17-2013, 08:42 AM   #3
Jacecam32
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So I made an attempt with a bracer. And I learned a verry valuable lesson. Have your pieces cut before you start to heat treat it. Its much harder to cut otherwise
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Unread 10-02-2013, 08:00 PM   #4
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This is the start of the armor paper cut outs and then I can get the PVC Foam Pieces cut right.

https://fbcdn-sphotos-f-a.akamaihd.n...70739839_n.jpg

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Unread 10-02-2013, 10:47 PM   #5
TenSuitConverse
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I'm wanting to start my own experimentation with PVC foam, but am not sure where to buy it. I know there are online stores, but are there stores, like Lowe's or the like, that sell it?

Edit:

I found a store that sells signs where I live and they sell PVC foam in 3mm and 6mm.

Last edited by TenSuitConverse : 10-02-2013 at 11:15 PM.
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Unread 10-03-2013, 09:26 AM   #6
Jacecam32
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Good to hear I got mine at an industrial plastic company. And 1/8 " 6mm I would suggest going for the 3mm it should be easier to form as it will require less time infront of a heat gun. Gonna be cutting out my pieces tonight. Also the 6mm ain't the easiest to cut even with a razor.
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Unread 10-03-2013, 09:37 AM   #7
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Thanks for the heads up! I feel like PVC foam would probably have a better end result than the craft foam I am currently using for props. Lol!

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Unread 10-03-2013, 11:41 AM   #8
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I Have no doubt abput that. Craft foam is flimsy. And doesnt mold it just holds its original place. The pvc foam can be heat treated to forms. Its not always the easiest like wonderflex. (Getting a sheet to see how the two compare.) But at 1/3 the price how can you argue with pvc foam? Takes a bit more time sure but its sturdier by far. I can't wait to have this armor ready.
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Unread 10-03-2013, 12:29 PM   #9
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With the craft foam, I just glued layers together and used my toaster oven to heat them and could shape them. They hold the shape well like that and with the extra layers, are a bit stronger.

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Unread 10-03-2013, 12:45 PM   #10
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I love this stuff. I actually use sheets to make armors and safe masks for NPCs for our local LARP group.

I have a set I made and it';s lasted an entire season being beaten, running through the woods and rolling on the ground. Using just a hot glue gun on high guarantees it won't rip apart, as it partially melts and bods the pieces together.

I only *just* started using it this spring so I still have a ways to go with experimenting and polishing, but I've picked up a few tricks on the way:

Heat guns and molds are awesome! The thicker foam takes a bit longer to heat to desired flexibility, (about a minute per hand sized piece), but heating it and then securing it to a mold works wonderfully.

Pencil crayons, knitting needles and ballpoint pens are wonderful things for embossing designs (I hand drew a scale patten on a breastplate and it worked wonderfully once painted and glossed).

Lastly, this took me a while to figure out, fabric paint! Buy a few bottles of cheap 3d paint and smooth a layer over the foam before you paint it. It will keep your acrylics from rubbing off at joints and high friction areas, and doesn't crease hardly at all (not visibly from more than a foot away) and gives an almost reflective surface for metallics.

Just don't try to put in rivets or other such fasteners as they will rip through your foam without some additional preparations. One suggestion was to use plastic bottle necks and caps to do moveable joints (I haven't tried it yet), but it should work.

The armor is light, breathable, cool and mobile. Something I *had* to have because I get heatsick relatively easily.

About the only downside is that it does need some modifications to make it fit a number of designs (cut channels and the like), and it doesn't look quite as good as some other materials, unless you do some extensive texturing/paint detailing.

Also while wearing it, *you* can take a beating. Using larger pieces to make breastplates evens out the impact and disperses it throughout the sheet rather than into you. I've taken a few hits to my back that should have left definite imprints (accidents happen in the heat of battle), and only felt the kinetics pushing me forward, the impact seemed almost incidental.

This is an awesome material to use for props you want to last, though, unless you're looking for pock scarred or diseased textures, do *not* leave it outside in the rain for three days. One of my friends whom I did a full suit up did, and the paint bubbled up like rust bubbles, which then deflated leaving a nasty mess behind.

It will tear if sharp edges are dragged across it and it will puncture, but as I've told some others, better it gets holes and scars than I do.
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Unread 10-03-2013, 08:32 PM   #11
Jacecam32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TenSuitConverse View Post
With the craft foam, I just glued layers together and used my toaster oven to heat them and could shape them. They hold the shape well like that and with the extra layers, are a bit stronger.

Posted via Topify using iPhone/iPad
Well Sadly using your toaster wont work for PVC foam. heh you should pick up a heat gun at your local hardware store should be about 20-25 buck.

Dkonen

Yes the guy who sold me the 6mm sheet said that people use much thicker pieces for Renaissance fair armor. for like Full on Jousting. Fortunately for me my armor is never going to take a serious hit. and if I make a prop out of it it will not be hitting anything either. (my con is really strict on props) But I will keep your advice in mind. The armor I am going for this time is a leather armor so I don't need it to shine too much thankfully.
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Unread 10-21-2013, 03:14 AM   #12
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So I've been having issues with sizing. from paper to foam doesn't translate as well as I thought. Any advice?
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Unread 10-21-2013, 08:19 AM   #13
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Is it that the foam shrinks during sizing? What I would do then is get a piece that I make exactly 2"x2" and shrink it like I would for the real costume. Let it cool, then measure the new size. Determine what percentage of 2" it shrank, then enlarge your paper patterns by that much (tape your pattern onto a larger sheet and trace out by the % of the distance from the edge to the center of the piece along a line perpendicular to that part of the edge). (I hope that made sense)
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Unread 10-21-2013, 11:30 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lemuries View Post
Is it that the foam shrinks during sizing? What I would do then is get a piece that I make exactly 2"x2" and shrink it like I would for the real costume. Let it cool, then measure the new size. Determine what percentage of 2" it shrank, then enlarge your paper patterns by that much (tape your pattern onto a larger sheet and trace out by the % of the distance from the edge to the center of the piece along a line perpendicular to that part of the edge). (I hope that made sense)
Not sure, but I know he's referring to Sintra/Komatex. I love the stuff, but recently started playing with Wonderflex-and-eva sandwiches. There's some advantages on both that I haven't fully explored. For example, I'm currently starting the Dragoon Artifact armor from FFXIV, starting with bracers and what parts its owner doesn't have to be on hand for. I have one bracer cut from a sandwich of Wonderflex and 2mm craft foam (Kamui does this all the time). I have a bit of 3mm sintra left from another project though, and I'm rather tempted to make one from sintra for comparison.

(btw, bondo on wonderflex sucks to sand...gesso from here on out)
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Unread 10-21-2013, 12:58 PM   #15
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PVC doesn't noticeably shrink that I know of. I can only think of 1 of 2 things.

1.) You're not cutting your plastic accurately from your pattern.

or, more commonly

2.) The thicker you go and the more you bend you tend to "lose" some of your top layer due to the increased arc length. Arc length is a function of radius so if you use say 6mm then your error will scale from that. S=r(theta)

It's not so noticeable when making single pieces but when you stack them it becomes a factor. Tryndamere's skirt may look like 4 identical plates but in fact they are different sizes to make up for this. Yang's gauntlets also needed to be be bondo'd on the corners to make up for this. If you post a picture we can probably help a bit more. GL.



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