Spacemeat's Guide to Foam Armor

Spacemeat

Member
would it be possible to put a thin layer of resin on the foam armor for strength?
While possible to put resin on the surface of the foam, I wouldn't think it's the best idea. A very thin layer would be very brittle and prone to cracking/breaking as the foam bends and flexes. Plus, you'd have to deal with the sanding and an attempt to get it smooth again.

I think that the foam is already a decent strength and one of the pluses over fiberglass is the ability to have a little flex and bend as you move around. However, there are places where you'll need extra strength, such as the helmet. In that case, I'd recommend putting the fiberglass on the inside of the foam. But instead of just laying down resin, I'd recommend lining the inside with fiberglass mat or cheese cloth and then coating that in resin. You'll get a lot more rigidity from that and be less prone to snapping and breakage. One word of caution when you're doing that, aside from the normal safety practices (respirator, eye protection, skin covering), the reaction from the resin when setting produces a lot of heat, and in the case of the foam, especially if it's held together with something like hotglue, can deform the piece while it's setting. So it's best to keep an eye on your pieces while they're setting and be prepared to work to keep them in their proper shapes while the reaction is going.
 

Spacemeat

Member
Got any pics of that? I'm really not sure what's happening based on just that description, but I'll can give guesses on some common causes:

1) The barrel of the hot knife is coming in contact with the foam, ideally, you should only have the blade touching the foam.

2) You're cutting free hand, using a straight edge will allow you to make a quick and smooth cut

3) You're cutting too slowly. Same as a above, use a straight edge to help make quick smooth cuts.

That's what I can think of off the top of my head
 

DragonWarrior24

Active Member
IMG_1149-1.JPG IMG_1150-1.JPG

I started working with Foam, I followed some of your vids to help. This is the Thruster for the Halo 4 Commando chest armor, but as you can see, It's not aliening properly. What could have gotten wrong?
 

Spacemeat

Member
View attachment 11681 View attachment 11680

I started working with Foam, I followed some of your vids to help. This is the Thruster for the Halo 4 Commando chest armor, but as you can see, It's not aliening properly. What could have gotten wrong?
It's a bit hard from the picture to tell what's not lining up well. If you're talking about the large unglued area in the second picture, from here it looks like the edges would line up properly if you glued them together. You may have to force the pieces together and see how it fits. Foam, because of discarding parts from the original pep file does become a little imprecise. Thankfully the material is forgiving in terms of bending and filling, so you can probably force it together and it will still fit together.
 

DragonWarrior24

Active Member
It's a bit hard from the picture to tell what's not lining up well. If you're talking about the large unglued area in the second picture, from here it looks like the edges would line up properly if you glued them together. You may have to force the pieces together and see how it fits. Foam, because of discarding parts from the original pep file does become a little imprecise. Thankfully the material is forgiving in terms of bending and filling, so you can probably force it together and it will still fit together.
Thanks for replying, I'll try to see how I can force it.

Another thing, I've been using a hot knife and it's started to dull, but I find that I can't take the blade out (At lease not without some force and I'm not risking that with an xacto) and because of the force I've been putting it's started to bend. Should I get a new one? and if so, what models do you recommend?
 

Spacemeat

Member
Thanks for replying, I'll try to see how I can force it.

Another thing, I've been using a hot knife and it's started to dull, but I find that I can't take the blade out (At lease not without some force and I'm not risking that with an xacto) and because of the force I've been putting it's started to bend. Should I get a new one? and if so, what models do you recommend?
Your knife doesn't unscrew like a standard exacto handle? In anycase, the knife I use is a weller SP-23 soldering iron with a knife attachment. But I think that model is discontinued, so you could get the newer version of that Weller or I do believe that exacto makes a hot knife as well
 

DragonWarrior24

Active Member
Your knife doesn't unscrew like a standard exacto handle? In anycase, the knife I use is a weller SP-23 soldering iron with a knife attachment. But I think that model is discontinued, so you could get the newer version of that Weller or I do believe that exacto makes a hot knife as well
It does but like I said because of the force I've been using, I haven't been able to get it out unless I appy force. And at the rate of the Iron's bending I'll have to get a new one.
 

Spacemeat

Member
I know it's been a very long time since I made a video in this series, but I finally got around to it:

Video 8: Lasercutting!

Everything you wanted to know from pep file to burnt slab of foam:

 
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DragonWarrior24

Active Member
I found a place where I can use a laser cutter for what I need, but I have some questions that I didn't see in the vid. For starters, what's the file type you used for the machine? I know you said not all of them are the same, but I wanted to know, I sent the operator of the machine the same question and I'm hoping for the same answer.

Also, since I have I mac I can't use pepakura, but i've gotten friends who have helped before with converting it to PDF and for foam use. can the same cuts be applied here, or does it require a whole other varioation? also what about pieces that have curves or have to be formed with an angle?
 

Spacemeat

Member
I found a place where I can use a laser cutter for what I need, but I have some questions that I didn't see in the vid. For starters, what's the file type you used for the machine? I know you said not all of them are the same, but I wanted to know, I sent the operator of the machine the same question and I'm hoping for the same answer.

Also, since I have I mac I can't use pepakura, but i've gotten friends who have helped before with converting it to PDF and for foam use. can the same cuts be applied here, or does it require a whole other varioation? also what about pieces that have curves or have to be formed with an angle?
From my experience, .dxf files seem to be the best file for various laser cutters.

Converting for lasercutting and foam are about the same, the only real pitfalls to watch for are pieces that are too small or corners that will get warped by the heat. One advantage to laser cutting, which I think I noted in my tutorial video is that you can join edges/cut lines to save time while cutting.

Curves are actually pretty easy for a laser cutter, and is actually a point where it shines over hand cutting, as you can add in a perfect circle or arc that would be difficult to achieve by hand. Usually when I see an evident curve in the file, I just replace it with an actual smooth curve in illustrator.
 

DragonWarrior24

Active Member
From my experience, .dxf files seem to be the best file for various laser cutters.

Converting for lasercutting and foam are about the same, the only real pitfalls to watch for are pieces that are too small or corners that will get warped by the heat. One advantage to laser cutting, which I think I noted in my tutorial video is that you can join edges/cut lines to save time while cutting.

Curves are actually pretty easy for a laser cutter, and is actually a point where it shines over hand cutting, as you can add in a perfect circle or arc that would be difficult to achieve by hand. Usually when I see an evident curve in the file, I just replace it with an actual smooth curve in illustrator.
Thanks for the tips. The operator replied and he said Corel Draw or Adobe Illustrator format would work well. and I'll see if I can make those edits, or have my friends who help me do that
 

carver01

New Member
Hey everyone! Over the years, I've had a lot of people ask me how I do foam and with everyone doing it just a little bit differently from each other, I figured it would be helpful to give my perspective on things. So, I've started a series of videos and I'll be trying to cover building my parts of armor from start to finish:

Video 1: General Overview


Video 2: Pepakura
Video 3: Basic Foam Assembly
Video 4: Reach Chestplate Details

Video 5: Edge and Seam Sealing

Video 6: Plastidip

Video 7: Quickie on Painting

Video 8: Lasercutting

You questions/feedback for the videos are always welcome. I'm sure aside from horrible rambling, I'm also forgetting to cover topics or not giving enough detail on some things.
Thank you for these videos! Im starting my first build!
 
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