Working on my first set

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Hey guys, I'm just starting my first set and I had a few questions.

Which method of making the suit do you find most durable and light weight?

And any tips on where to start? I was thinking about using foam board for my first one, just to get a feel for the process. Ultimately I think I'm going to want to make a mold so that I can do the vacuum forming and make multiple suits (cuz if I do a good enough job, my friends won't leave me alone until I make them one).
Link I think I was reading that you vacuum form don't you? Did you make your own machine? I've been reading the TK560 website on how that guy did his.
not my armor its fiberglass and upper shourd on my AR i do my friend has a real machine
Well, I'm about 1/3 of the way through the top part of the helmet. It's coming along.... well, its coming along. lol

Already though I have come up with a few questions.

I read about people using clay to fill in gaps in the armor or patch it up. Do any of you guys do this? Do you worry about it cracking at all as it dries?

I also was curious how you guys plan for your visor. Do you keep that in mind as you build the helmet from scratch? Or are the visors pretty flexible and easy to work into most models?

And if I were to paint this with fiberglass after I was done (I'm using mostly foam board), does it come off clean, or does it need to be sanded down or something?

Sorry for the newb questions. I'm quite excited about my helmet project, and the more I get into it, the more I realize I have NO idea what I'm doing. :wowie:

I'm not sure what you mean about patching things with clay. The only application of clay in armor making that I know of is for the people who sculpt their armor in clay then make molds of it.

The best way to plan for a visor is to buy one before you get started. Build your helmet around the visor, otherwise you might not be able to fit it into your helmet.

Theres a little issue with foam board and the fiberglass technigue. Polyester resin MELTS foam.... and the resin will seep through the cardboard a bit. MAybe theres some kind of a barrier coat you can put over the foamboard before you fiberglass it.

Oh, and there will be LOTS of sanding to do. :stir:
Thanks for the help Sean.

I guess what I was wondering is what would you use to fill in the gaps in the construction of the armor, bondo? Or are you guys just super good and don't have that problem? lol

I think the origional that I read on the person using foamboard is that they put a coat of primer on first.... I'll have to look into it. Thanks for the heads up though, I'd hate to do all that work and then ruin it by being stupid.
Small scale testing is your friend. Try fibreglassing a bit of scrapboard to see if the primer will let it separate. Try this before you do anything to your finished model..:)
Yeah, I was thinking that too. Thinking about testing the primer as well. Who knows what affect that might have too.

Oh we're good, but everybody makes mistakes. ;-) Yes, Bondo is an excellent filler for small gas in your armor. It bonds well to fiberglass, and can be sanded and painted identically.

Also for small areas you could use putty epoxy, it mixes by hand, and can be shaped like clay.
Sweet. I'm thinking I might use some bondo and fill in wherever the foam is exposed on the helmet so that the fiberglass doesn't screw up the design. The majority of what is exposed is posterboard anyways.
:eek Sorry. Bondo is a type for polyester resin (fiberglass resin) so it will melt foam too!

Best bet for your work, as I understand it is to cover your part wiuth some kind of barries before you coat it in resin. Maybe you could cover it with masking tape, or perhaps there is a type of paint that would work as a barrier.

Does anyone else out there have an idea how to confront this problem for Frizzle here?
Oh noes. :wowie: Perhaps I can take some puddy or something and just kinda block off the foam exterior that way? I suppose masking tape would work too, but I wonder if it would be thick enough and put detail into the fiberglass that I don't necessarily want there.
one trick you can use is clear caulking, apply it with a small brush very thinly to what ever you want sealed, and/or the resin to not stick to.

That and make one hell of a thick coat of sanding primer, it will peel away but works as a very cheap release agent.

For your foam, use thin coats of something called plastic weld. Found at walmart, it is like resin but cures into an ABS like plastic. and it will shield your foam from the resin, the catch is it will stick to the resin also!
The material you use to make you helmet and armor is entirely up to you.

There are many, many different compounds out there you can use.
Polyester resin is by far the most common, and easiest to aquire as almost every auto store carries it.

One word from the experienced, dont make your resin alittle hotter, by adding more catalyst in the mix. If you add too much you can end up with a chemical fire you wont be able to put out. FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS!

So I tested two methods to try to protect the foam

Method 1: Cramming clay into the hole and trying to even it out. This method was difficult to do because the clay didn't really want to stick. On top of that, it looked much worse once I was done. The third board in I left completely unprotected to see if the primer would eat away at the foam... Yup, sure did.


Method 2: I painted Elmer's Glue onto the foam and let it dry. I was suprised at how well this sealed the foam. It seemed visually like the foam soaked all of it up and there was nothing on there. But when I painted, the three "treated" pieces came out nice, and I believe some glue even managed to get into the "untreated" third board because it didn't corrode nearly as much as the clay tester.


Long story short, I went with elmers glue to seal off the foam board. It works, but I recommend using a paint brush to spread it on the exposed foam, letting it dry, and then doing a second coat to be sure. I already started putting primer on the top piece of my helmet and I can tell where I missed two boards because the foam inside is melting. Fortunately these aren't really structurally key to the design, and they are on the inside so they wont be seen.

Overall though I'm noticing that using foam board is more trouble than it's worth. It's cheap, yes, but then you have to do extra work just to try to keep the foam from being exposed to chemicals, add to that the fact that it can be a major pain in the rear to cut smoothly sometimes and I can tell you that I probably wont be using this again.
I found that I really liked using posterboard, sealing the edges with good old elmers, and then applying resin to that.

I also use the white foam found in the fake flowers section of walmart its a more plastic version of foam mot a styrene. it doesnt melt when you apply resin to it, and comes in various thicknesses including blocks.

and its only a few bucks a large block or sheet.
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