Aug 5, 2011, 4:16 AM - Working with Sintra
Since joining this forum, I've read a variety of threads in which people have used Sintra for their prop, model or costume projects. I've never used this material before and only heard about it when I joined, so what I'm asking for here is some information from those of you who have used it please.
First of all, is it available in the UK? I've searched for it online, but I only ever seem to find US suppliers. I must be doing something wrong here or is this product called something else in the UK?
What is it like to work with? I'm gathering that you can cut it with a craft knife or a saw, but can you use other tools with it for shaping? Speaking of shaping the stuff, it seems that you can heat it up to make it more pliable.
Other tidbits are, what does this product look like? By this I mean, does it have a porous surface or is it smooth like ABS and Styrene, how well does it take to being sanded and what are the best glues to use on it?
Any hints and tips would be really appreciated and hopefully I haven't asked too many questions, but then that's the point of a forum like this; if you want to learn about a particular subject that you know nothing about, do a search or ask. I've done the search, but nothing that helpful has come to light yet.
Aug 5, 2011, 4:41 AM - Re: Working with Sintra
In the uk you can pick up foamex, its pretty much the same thing. Sintra is a foam PVC and is really easy to work with. Its much more pliable and lighter than styrene. You can pick it up in packs. If anyone can correct me on this please do
A full description is here:
It explains it better than i could:P
Aug 5, 2011, 5:30 AM - Re: Working with Sintra
Ah, that's a little awkward. I didn't realise that it was Foamex!
Thanks for the link, it was pretty explanitory. I'm still interested to hear about people's experiences with either brands as it's always nice to see what people have to say a particular product, especially if it's one that I've not used before.
Aug 5, 2011, 10:20 AM - Re: Working with Sintra
Aug 5, 2011, 10:37 AM - Re: Working with Sintra
And here I thought sintra was almost the same as styrene, that looks more like foam core board.
Aug 5, 2011, 10:41 AM - Re: Working with Sintra
Apparently despite a lovely singing voice, he was really difficult to work with and often flew into rages when he couldn't do things HIS way. And because of his mob connections even his best friends Dean and Sammy were terrified of him... oh wait... nevermind...
I've used Sintra a lot - easy to work with, but in my experience it's difficult to finish really smooth. It's got a smooth or slightly textured "skin" on the outside surface, but the cut edges can be somewhat rough and slightly "foamy." And in my experience it doesn't take very well to sanding. It can get a bit rough once you get past the surface. Depending on what kind of surface you're trying to create, it might work. I don't use it for small items, but it can be great for certain larger, less detailed things. You can bend it with heat. Glues up with regular styrene cyano glues. Takes paint nicely. Fairly durable on set in rough situations.
I've made a lot of props by designing them in Illustrator, then taking vectors into a 3D program, extruding the vector shapes and virtually assembling it. When it's good to go, I send the vector outlines to a shop here that has a big router that cuts the shapes into slabs of Sintra that are the same thickness as the extrusions I did on the 3D model. I get a big box of parts from the shop which can then be assembled almost like a model kit of the 3D model. Sintra is great for larger more squared-off shapes. One of the first times I used Sintra extensively was when I built a lot of the moon gear and lunar experiments for FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON for HBO, and white Sintra was perfect for the look and feel of the clunky NASA equipment. Plus it was so light, that when props were handled by the actors they didn't seem too heavy - it looked like white painted metal being handled in the lower lunar gravity.
If you're thinking about costuming, consider some of the really dense, pliable foams out there. Light, bendable, durable, glue-friendly, versatile and easy to cut and shape and assemble with a hot-glue gun. There's loads of patterns around the internetz that you can size up and use to make armor and various complex shapes.
In addition to styrene, for making more detailed models and props, consider a material called Renshape (More accurately: RenShape®). It's a really dense polyurethane that comes in sheets and blocks at various densities and is really reliable to work with using various tools and techniques. I don't know the availability of these things in the UK, but they're somewhat easy to find here in the US, so I can imagine they'd be common over there, too. Maybe they have different trade names. If you go to the right workshop or prototyping shop, they might even give you some of their left-over chunks to experiment with.
Then there's the old reliable method of sculpting in clay - polymer clay; something like Super Sculpey, then making molds and casting in resin. That way you can make multiples and you can duplicate parts if you need to make something that tiles or has patterns that repeat, etc..
Aug 5, 2011, 11:24 AM - Re: Working with Sintra
^ Thanks for taking the time to post Phelyx, Some good tips and alternatives there
Aug 5, 2011, 12:56 PM - Re: Working with Sintra
Sintra is very brittle when using thin sheets of it! It will snap if you aren't carefull!!
Last edited by franz bolo; Aug 5, 2011 at 1:11 PM.
Reason: mispelled Of
Aug 5, 2011, 12:57 PM - Re: Working with Sintra
Sheet Sintra can be heated up curved/reshaped pretty well. It retains the heat giving you more time to shape it to your liking unlike styrene which cools off much faster, warps, and distorts particularly on the edges.
I made the diorama portion for this figure when I was at McFarlane Toys. The curved part of the wall on the master pattern was made in Sintra because Sintra retained the width of the original sheet with minimal distortion. I heated the Sintra over my own kitchen stove and shaped it over a metal storage cannister. I brought the reformed sheet into work and I carved/shaped the doorway with a dremel and sanding drum bit. Kinda funny that a toy made in who knows how many thousands had some of it's origin in my kitchen.
Exercise caution and have proper ventilation when heating any sheet plastic.
Aug 5, 2011, 1:48 PM - Re: Working with Sintra
Thanks for your input everyone, it's appreciated.
I'm always keen to use products that I'm new to and Sintra is something that I was unfamiliar with and yes, I was kind of expecting someone to come up with a Sinatra joke. Thing is, I now know that it seems to be the US cousin of Foamex here in the UK, so in that regard I'm hoping to find some samples for a quick trial run.
I need a project to try it out with now. Wish me luck.
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