Sculpting Foam Questions, Sources?

Discussion in 'Replica Props' started by Jimbo890, Jan 18, 2006.

  1. Jimbo890

    Jimbo890 Well-Known Member

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    I have 4 helmet sculpts on the workbench right now. A Stormtrooper, an X-wing, a Boba Fett and an Endor Trooper 'donut'. All these projects will end up being vacuum formed, and the props used in a fan film. [sans the Fett helmet, thats for me.]

    I've been working in MDF, [multi-density fiber board] with good success, but, the trooper helmet has given me fits. It it so hard, and using power tools, much of the detail has to be 'added' back on with a blob of bondo. I've about given up trying to make it out of MDF.

    PolyUreathane Foam, HDF, LAST-A-FOAM and Balsafoam II are the products I'm looking into as a possible alternative for the construction of these sculpts, as opposed to using the MDF/Bondo.

    The sculpting foam needs to be hard enough to withstand a dozen or so vacuum form pulls. So, the 4lb. foam is out. Looks like 7-12lb. foam is what I need, but am not sure how much. 12inch cube would be large enough to do the trooper helmet.

    This stuff is pretty expensive, and I've never used anything like it before. I have a few questions for the experts:

    Do I buy a sheet, glue it into blocks, and go from there?
    Do I buy a single large block, and cut it down?
    What is a good price for enough foam to make a helmet with, say, a trooper helmet?
    Is there a hardware store alternative that will work as well? If so, what is it called?
    What is the best way to hardcoat it or does it need to be hard coated? Remember, I'll be using the sculpts as a mold for vacuum forming.
    Price? Vendor?

    Thanks for any help on this.

  2. dropshipbob

    dropshipbob Sr Member

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    Well, I know this won't answer your exact question, but I've heard of people using the green floral foam, the kind you can get at most any hobby/craft store.

    The Hanger 18 guys used this material to make their Deep Eyes helmets from the Final Fantasy movie.

    I believe they bought the biggest chunks available, then glued them together and sculpted away. My apologies if you already thought of this.
  3. Jimbo890

    Jimbo890 Well-Known Member

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    Great tip. I thought of that material, but was afraid it would be too soft for vacuum forming.

    Anyone know if it is too soft for vac forming?

  4. ImprisonedFett

    ImprisonedFett New Member

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    I remember always going into the craft stores and messing with that foam. It seems pretty easy to press it down so I would think it wouldn't hold up to the pressure. But again I'm not sure.
  5. Trallis

    Trallis Well-Known Member

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    oh i was under the impression that you needed to make castings of the foam sculpts and use them for the vac-forming.
    you can actually put the foam on there and vac form over it?
  6. Jimbo890

    Jimbo890 Well-Known Member

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    The 7-12lb foam is suppose to be hard enough for vacuum forming, according to the literature I have read.

    I know, it sounds almost too good to be true.
  7. BlindSquirrel

    BlindSquirrel Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I got a sample pack of Precision Board foam and I thnk that hardcoating even softer foams would probably make it tough enough for Vacu-forming. Of course I haven't been able to find a hard coat source...

    I haven't investigated it yet but I was thinking one of the local display companies might be able to hard coat foam pieces for me. It might be worth not having to buy equipment, chemicals and cleaning up the mess...
  8. DarthJRW

    DarthJRW Well-Known Member

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    thats the only thing i use for my molds its great :D
    and it hold its shape for at least 3 pulls

  9. Jedirick

    Jedirick Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Someone mentioned hard coating a dense foam. probably your best bet. Not only are you dealing with pressure of the pull but the repeat exposing to heat. Most foams lack the propeties to handle heat well.

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