Foam or Resin armor????

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Auryn

Active Member
Firstly,
thank you to all the great people hear for sharing their great knowledge.
Thanks to you now I have a new hobby and plans for my soon to be new garage to turn it into a total workshop.

I have gone through the pepakura stickies and watched the tutorials by STEALTH- great job, thank you for taking the time.

My question is this.
How do you choose between making armor from eva foam or creating a resin/fiberglass piece from a pep file??

This will be my first time making armor that isn't made of leather. The suit I am thinking about doing isnt a full enclosure suit like Iron Man or Storm Troopers.

I already have someone lined up to create the 3d and the pep file for me to my scale.
Now I have to choose if I want it to be resin or foam.

I have easy access to all the fiberglass supplies (our family business is boat manufacturing and I've molded plugs and laid plenty of fiberglass by hand myself).

I haven't worked with eva foam but im pretty sure my leather and general crafting experience would make it not too difficult.

What do you think?
Id love to hear pros or cons of either side.
 

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OptimusWang

New Member
At the extremes, pep/resin/bondo suits almost always look better than foam counterparts for hard suits. That said, you'll spend significantly more time and money to get that better look, so if you just want a good-looking costume that will impress most folks, go with foam. If you have OCD or want an exact movie replica, be ready to break out the bondo instead and start sanding.
 

STEALTH

Sr Member
Good points OptumiusWang

Cost - Foam costume vs Resin costume = FOAM wins due to it's low cost from materials

mobility - Foam wins again.

Accuracy- Resin/bondo costume wins but it won't be fun to wear all day unless it's molded and casted in lighter material. Bondo can be heavy. Molding and casting is alot more money to do in the end.
 

aron42486

Well-Known Member
Resin/Fiberglass/Bondo is also toxic due to fumes, so it is not recommend for you living room or dining room table.

Foam will go much faster if speed is a concern because you do not have to wait for anything to cure.

Depending on which foam you use, I feel it is much easier to get a hold of resin and bondo since most people special order certain foam mats.

Foam will not last as long either and doesnt give that nice "armor" painted finish.
 

Shades

Well-Known Member
Team foam here.

I made a helmet both ways, with foam and with resin and bondo.

The foam took 6-8 hours.

The resin took three weeks and I got it 85% done.

I think it depends on the armor also. Something with a matte finish and angular lines works great in foam.
 

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Auryn

Active Member
Thank you for the candid answers, thats what I was looking for.

My main reason for considering the resin armor is 1- readily available supplies- literally 10 feet away from my computer right now and
2 because the finished armor is supposed to look like solid gold- im doing a gold saint cloth from the saint seiya anime.- and I don't know if the foam can have that finished look.

From what I have seen it seems like I would have to paint/ seal the whole thing (foam ) in plasti dip or a similar material to get a metallic finish.

You do make a good point about speed and cost.
I want to have this suit finished for DragonCon 2012 (along with the Mord Sith leather cat suit).
I really don't have many other places that I could wear the armor to.
 

Jaedena

Well-Known Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I'd say fiberglass is a lot more durable than the eva foam. Depends what you want to do with it and how long you want to keep it.
 

aron42486

Well-Known Member
the finished armor is supposed to look like solid gold- im doing a gold saint cloth from the saint seiya anime.- and I don't know if the foam can have that finished look.
I don't know this armor. Are you wanting it to be a shiny polished gold, or just a metallic sparkle. Even with plasti-dip i think it would be difficult to get a polished effect on foam. You can get that sparkle though by using the right metallic paints.

I think you could pull off a resin/fiberglass armor in a year. Just don't do what I did and stop working on it for 10 months :lol
 

Surreal Studios

Well-Known Member
There is also another option which is kinda like a hybrid of both style of builds and that is the rubbermaid trash can build. You get a more solid look while still being somewhat flexible, a little more time consuming than the foam to build but way less than a resin/bondo build. I have seen several armors made this way and they all look great. also seen a few tutorials on here for this style
 
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Icetigris

New Member
Where does vacuumformed thermoplastics fit into this continuum? I've been planning a Samus costume in the distant future and want to use ABS. It also seems to be the material of choice for Stormtroopers.
 

OptimusWang

New Member
Resin/bondo costume wins but it won't be fun to wear all day unless it's molded and casted in lighter material. Bondo can be heavy.
This man speaks the truth. I built my Halo armor from pep/bondo/rondo, and by the end of the day my legs were killing me. If I ever make another one, I'll probably still use bondo for the body and arms to get 'the look', but my thighs and shins will definitely be foam so they're not raw as hamburger.
 

Jaedena

Well-Known Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Where does vacuumformed thermoplastics fit into this continuum? I've been planning a Samus costume in the distant future and want to use ABS. It also seems to be the material of choice for Stormtroopers.
Having a set of stormtrooper armour, I'd say it's the most time consuming and difficult out of the three options. You have to make moulds and have a vac table to make the armour itself. With fiberglass you just pep the pieces and glass them (that's the short version) and with foam, well I'm learning very quickly in my own N7 build it's just cut, heat, form, plasti-dip and paint.
 

Fullmetalsam

Active Member
Team foam here.

I've tried both approach (as well as the vaccuform) and I've stayed with foam.
All my reasons for staying with foam as my "beloved" material of choice have been listed earlier... but I want to set something straight on durability.

My foam armors have always stayed beautiful way (and by way, I mean wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy) longer than any other "hard" armor I've seen. Why ?

1- If the paint job is done right on a foam armor, it will not scrape off - like never... unlike it will happens everytime you will wear your "hard" armor.

This is because, if you're going "full armor" like a spartan suit or armor, it's really impossible to design your armor so that the different piece will not touch each other when you move. Your shin will always rub against your shoes, your biceps are going to rub against your guantlets, etc... and because they are hard pieces of armor, it will always scrape off a little bit of paint (not matter how many layers of clear coat you've applied).

This just doesn't happen with foam armor... when pieces will rub against one another, they will "move out of the way" and won't scrap your paint job.

2- A "hard" armor is more prone to breaking than foam armor.
Let's say we have 2 armors (one hard and one foam) that are each appropriately designed for there wearer... the 'hard' armor will most likely break before the foam armor does. An uncareful slip and you'll get a real bad dent in that helmet you've just dropped on the floor - where a foam helmet would have just bounce a little and would still be perfect.

Anyhow - the sole reason why someone should choose between those 2 way of doing things is accuracy of the end product.

I have to agree that a hard armor will most of the time look better than a foam one.

But factoring in time to produce foam patterns and doing the paint job properly - a foam armor should take the same time as a pep/resin/bondo armor to produce. (unless you have found pep foam pattern and then the foam route becomes way quicker).

If you're going for the Saint-Seya gold metallic finish... you should look for the "vinyl over foam" method. It's been used for great effect by other Saint-Seya costumers and it gives a very cool metallic shine (well as good as the 4-way stretch metallic vinyl you were able to find).
 
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indiefilmgeek

Sr Member
I think you've heard good info and arguments from both camps... The only thing I'd throw into this discussion would be this: Don't feel like you need to build 100% in any particular material.

If you have FG/resin handy, make the pieces that make sense as hardened (chest, helmet, forearms, boots, etc) out of FG/resin and make sections that need added flexibility in foam.

Heck, there might be pieces that look better (and function better) if you did them in the plastic trashcan and rivets method.

I guess my point is, you don't have to pick ONE build method and then abandon all the others. Consider picking the very best build material for each part of the suit.

Good luck - I can't wait to see what you create!!! :):thumbsup
 

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indiefilmgeek

Sr Member
Is this the type of costume you're talking about?



Obviously, most of this armor would work as either, but you'd mentioned metallic gold finish...

Here is part of my son's forearm armor. One half of this piece is foam-build the other is fiberglass/bondo. I think the paint finish is indistinguishable between the two.




I sometimes think the hardest thing for me is getting a nice smooth curve with foam. But here's a foam piece that I got both a nice curved surface out of it as well as a high-gloss finish.



I don't think you'll have a problem matching your gold metallic paint from hardened pieces to foam pieces (it just takes the right 'adhesive promoter' as a primer). :):thumbsup
 

Barcrest

Member
The gold part on the bicep of my foam build looks like gold metal. I used Plasticote Brilliant Metal Gold and after i had coated the foam in PVA a couple of times the gold went on and looks like metal. I must stress not to rush the PVA process because and runs in that will show through but if you are more patient than me it should look great.
 

Finhead

Sr Member
The gold part on the bicep of my foam build looks like gold metal. I used Plasticote Brilliant Metal Gold and after i had coated the foam in PVA a couple of times the gold went on and looks like metal. I must stress not to rush the PVA process because and runs in that will show through but if you are more patient than me it should look great.
And don't ever get your armor wet as PVA is water based and dissolves rather quick with water or alcohol. :lol
 

Kiax

New Member
I have had this same question and I decided to try them both out.

I am currently working on a War Machine suit for next June. I started building with intent of using Resin/fiberglass because I thought it was the only way to go besides casting until I watched Stealth's tutorial on using pepakura files to build foam armor. Since I already started I was going to try both in the same suit. Using foam for more pron to move parts like torso neck and in joints and resin for chest shoulder legs etc. I was consurned with painting the foam.
 

Auryn

Active Member
Thank you everyone for taking the time and sharing so much great information
There have been a lot of great points made that I hadn't even though of.
I definitely want the shiny reflective gold look, not sparkly hehe.

Couple of questions
rubbermaid trash can build
Please tell or link me, this sounds interesting

Fullmetalsam - thanks for the run down on the maintenance and 'damage' aspect of it.
The
vinyl over foam
that you mention- as in covering the foam with a metallic vinyl material???


indiefilmgeek -
yes thats the look
thankfully the character I chose has no wings- the most out there part of the armor is the gigantor shoulder pieces.

The more I think about it the more I think that going a mix media route might be the best way.
What did you use to paint that brilliant red with so much shine??

What is PVA?
and if
And don't ever get your armor wet as PVA is water based and dissolves rather quick with water or alcohol
how do you paint it and why would you use it??
Last thing I want is to do all that work and have it start melting if I get caught in a rain shower.

This is the actual armor I want to make.
I guess I should think out which piece would work better in which material

 

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