EVA Foam VS 3D Printed

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First time posting, long time lurker and I have some questions.

For a few years I've been on and off trying to build some ODST armor, but have never gotten past the paper craft and template phase. That is until last fall. I was talking with one of my friends who is more stilled with 3D modeling, graphic design, and computers than I am. She offered to help me take the the Pepukra files and after printing them run them though her Cricut cuter to make very well cut templates for building an EVA foam suit.

However, she just got a new larger 3D printer. Large enough that she could in a single print, print me the helmet. She has even said that she could 3D print all the parts for me if I supply the filament. This has me stoked as it would cut the total build time down quite a bit. I would just have to clear it up, paint it, and source a visor/make a mold for a visor.

Here's what I see as pros and cons.

EVA is more flexible and lighter. And would be easier to quickly repair if damaged. But from my understanding its more prone to dents when compressed, and is more susceptible to heat. I work with EVA a lot in my LARP communities and we often see weapons fail because the EVA breaks down in the heat. And I do live in the south west US. (Vegas!) And I see the softness and flexibility as a con. The armor, in lore, is made out of advanced ceramics and steel so it shouldn't flex.

3D printed is going to be more solid, which I like. But I feel its going to weigh a bit more. But then again, weight isn't much of an issue as I typically wear 30-50lbs of steel armor for fighting. My idea if we print the whole kit is to line the armor with EVA foam so it has padding against my body. But I also know that 3D printed stuff can be damaged by heat. So no living my kit in my car for to long. And in the event that something breaks it might be a bit more time to repair.

I'm very much leaning towards 3D printing the kit as I feel it would give me the feel and look I want. I'd primarily be wearing the kit at night any ways to the local Nerd bar for cosplay night, local gaming conventions, and to beat my co-workers in Halloween costume contests. Once we get started in full I'll post a build thread with updates

But I'm looking for some feed back here.
Has anyone else done this?
What would work best in terms of filament?
Should I just do full EVA?
What 3D printing settings should my friend and I look into using?
Any other tips or advice or pros and cons that I missed?
I think one issue with 3D printing is cost, as a shoulder piece for example might cost about 8€ when printing, while I could get enough Foam for two shins for the same price, but if cost isn't a very large factor, it shouldn't matter too much. It also depends on your print settings. I like to print with 4 perimeters and 25% infill which results in a good strong piece, but you can definitly save some filament by lowering the infill. I also think that prints might be a little more prone to damage as they aren't as flexible as foam and can crack when loaded too much while foam would just bend, but you could also reinforce the prints with fiberglass if that becomes an issue(depends on usage and print settings, best to just try it out on a failed print). One huge advantage to printing though is the level of detail you can easily get without too much work. For filament, you probably shouldn't use PLA, as it isn't very heat resistand and easily softens up. I don't have any experience with other filaments, but ABS and PETG are supposed to be more heat resistant, though they are also a bit more difficult to print, I think. In the end you have to decide for yourself what you want to use, but I'd recommend mixing foam and printing, as some areas, like the sides of the chest piece, can get a bit more stressed and might be less prone to breaking when made from foam, while high detail areas take a lot of work with foam, but are fast to print. You could also try printing some more stressed areas with slightly flexible filament, though they are more challenging to print. I would probably make large, low detail areas from foam to save maybe some time and cost, but print higher detail pieces/areas.
I'm a huge sucker for hybrid suits that utilize the material properties strengths and weaknesses in places where they can cover for the negatives of the other.

Has anyone else done this?
Plenty of people have started doing fully printed suits which is awesome. There's a full forum section on 3D printed builds as well that may help you out! Personally I have one fully foam, two hybrids and one fully printed suit and they each have their own quirks.​

What would work best in terms of filament?
This is where you start to split the room because everyone has their own preferences in materials. I'm a sucker for PLA+ since it prints accurately, fast and with very little special considerations such as enclosures or extreme heats. Other folks such as MoeSizzlac love ABS and xXDashIVXx like PETG. My general statement about what works best is what gets you consistent results and doesn't break the bank since you're going to be buying around 8kg of material to cover the chance of misprints.​

Should I just do full EVA?
That ultimately depends on what you want from the suit. EVA is more flexible to wear and easier to transport generally since you can just jam pieces together in a bag or a tub. 3D printed suits I tend to baby (don't kick the bin in transit, don't leave it in the hot car, only people I can trust can touch the parts) since they can be broken with improper handling.​
Depending on your friends printer and how long per day you work on costume stuff it could be a fairly even race to finish a suit in EVA or on a printer since printing a full suit is usually a month or more when using a larger printer such as a CR-10 or Tevo Tornado that can do full parts such as gauntlets and shins in a single print. If I sit down with foam and templates I can usually finish off a fairly high detailed part in 6-8 hours in EVA, depending on the size of the piece a printer could be days.​
What 3D printing settings should my friend and I look into using?
0.2mm layer heights is a good balance of speed and detail for armour. If there's any high detail buckles or crests you want printed, separate them from the file and print at a higher resolution at a different time.​
Three shells and whatever the magic number of infill is for your printer to stop pillowing on the top surface will make for sturdy armour that doesn't take ages to print. This is also adjusted based on the thickness of the model compared to your nozzle width and how your slicer behaves.​
Temperature settings and movement speeds depend on the material so that's a thing to consider later on.​
Any other tips or advice or pros and cons that I missed?
My biggest tip, get Armorsmith. It'll save you time, money and heartache.​
Thanks! I've sent this post to my friend so she can look it over. And I'm looking into getting my own spool of filament since that's the trade. We'll likely be starting the helmet here soon and just do a full print on that for the lulz.
Filament has been bought, will likely do the hybrid foam and 3D print some parts. Going to start with fulling printing the helmet to get started.


Might have to scale up the 3D print a bit.
(For Christmas my friend printed the mini helmet on her smaller printer)

Once we get some more done I'll start my own build post.
3D printed gear looks fantastic, and I’ll no doubt try it sometime. For me, the pro for foam is the exceptional satisfaction of knowing and saying “I crafted this with my own hands”. Nothing beats it for feeling like a boss and it absolutely blows peoples minds. It’s why I prefer handmade SFX in movies to CGI. And I hate working with fiddly technology. But if you’re not a hands-on craft nut like me and the aim is to just put together a cool suit because you love Halo, do whatever is good for your needs.
I'm a sucker for EVA foam coated in fiberglass/ carbon fiber. It takes the durability and comfort of EVA and adds a protective shell to it. The downside is that it isn't as mobile (harder to pack for cons and takes up space like a 3D print). This method is generally lighter weight than 3D prints but slighty heaver than EVA by itself.

I'm just about to start my suit using this method. I'll be documenting the process and posting it both to my social media and to the forums here. It is likly going to take me a few years to build it as I'm not rushing through it. I built a custom Batman suit using this method, I made some rookie mistakes (it was my first cosplay) but I still absolutely love it almost 5 years later.

To me, this method also gives a more personalized feel... it isn't as "perfect" looking as a 3D print, but it has more character. It also can cost less and is easier to continually mod to be unique, if that is your thing.

There are of course positives to 3D printing, accuracy being a huge one if that is what you are going for. Same with regular EVA foam procedures.

To each their own, however you make it, it is most important that you do it safely and have a ton of fun!
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