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Author Topic: Alternative material for cosplay armour.  (Read 631 times)
bicyclebuilder
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« on: August 25, 2019, 11:07:22 am »

After using EVA foam for a divers suit, I have found that EVA have a few downsides.
- it stays flexible, making it crinkle on big flat peices.
- the material is hard to keep the paint stick. (There are paints that stick, but the flexibility of foam makes hardened paint crack)
- The level of detail is low.
In all fairness, I have used low density foam with a course surface.

For a new project, I'm looking for an alternative for EVA foam.
The idea is to use PVC pipes for rainwater drainage. These are a bit thinner than regular pvc plumbing pipes.
A 100mm PVC pipe is roughly the size of my arms. With minor alteration, it can fit my arms perfectly.
I can shape PVC with a paint stripper (heat gun).

I want the armour to be metallic. For this, I'm thinking about using tin foil to glue on the PVC. Or for glue, perhaps resin or laquer.
After the glued tin foil, I'm thinking about a few coats of resin or laquer.
The idea is to make a durable surface, because the armour plates are going to rub against eachother frequently.
A coat of paint on PCV might not be durable enough, therefore I'm going for tin foil and resin/laquer.

Although I have figured out this technique by myself, I can't imagine there is no one who has done this before.
On Google, Youtube and Pintrest, I can not find any information about this.
Am I on a brand new cosplay armour technique or is this techique doomed to fail, therefore I can't find any refrence information?

Are there flaws in my plan?
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Kensington Locke
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« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2019, 03:03:01 pm »

I was going to say tinfoil glued to PVC might look cheesy and suggest metalic spray paint and then do what nerf punks do to make it look weathered.

But then I had a flash of insight.  hit youtube and google up Adam Savage modding a wooden sword.  He's given a nice one and he wraps it with this metal tape, then uses rub-n-buff to make it look good.

  Seems like that solves both your problems of how to make the foil stick (it's tape) and make it look nice.
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bicyclebuilder
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« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2019, 08:06:22 am »

Thank you for your reply.
I have found the modded wooden sword by Adam Savage and it looks awesome!

Before I start this build, I'm going to make a few tests.
- see if the PVC pipes are easy to be shaped;
- if tin foil on PVC looks good (various applications, flattened foil, wrinkled foil, glued, resin or lacquer);
- if metal tape works better then tin foil, and if it sticks good on PVC.

The durability and scratch proof of the material is my main concern.

As for forming the PVC pipes to my body, I'm thinking about heating the pipe until it becomes soft.
Then wrapping my bodypart in a wet/damp towel. Then pressing and forming the hot soft PVC on the towel, on my body.
The idea is that the towel prevents me from burning on the hot PVC and also cooling down and hardening the PVC.
In theory, the thickness of the towel should give me enough space to have a nice comfortable fit.

I'm going for a full body armour, like a knight.
The idea is to start with the chest plate and work my way down to my arms.
If all goes well, then go on with the helmet and legs.
For it's design, I'm thinking about a standard, plain armour. Without any frills.
I want to make the harness in such a way that it can be easily altered into a more fancy look.
Like interchangeable parts or screw on parts, so I can turn it into a more fantasy look or a villain look. Perhaps with some additional parts, it can be turned into a Steampunk looking armour.
I think I'll post a few sketches soon to elaborate on this.
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J. Wilhelm
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« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2019, 03:13:06 pm »

PVC pipe is easy to bend when hot, but a word of caution: the heat gun only gives you a a pin point spot of heat on the PVC and heat dissipates quickly inside the plastic. You need to practice a lot on how to spread the heat evenly while holding the piece with wires or something. The temperature needed to soften PVC is over 100C, the heat gun is good for that, but you will find the heat will move around inside the plastic a lot depending on how big and thick the piece is. Heat is lost by radiation and convection quickly in those parts where the gun is not treating too.

In my experience when the heat is uneven, even just a little bit, the PVC will warp because some parts of the plastic expand (hot areas) while others are rigid. You can only control the shape of PVC properly when the WHOLE piece is very evenly heated (that can take a while with the heat gun, moving it often over the surface). Getting the whole pipe to be soft, like a wet noodle, is harder to  do because the trick is making the PVC not sag or burn in some spots (yes it will burn and releases chlorine gas).

For large diameter pipe like the one you're taking about you'll find you may need to build a "heat box" where you can rotate the PVC pipe so you can apply the heat evenly. With a heat gun I was able to reach event temperature on 1 inch pipe by moving the gun very fast over the surface. It doesn't take long at all, but warping was the issue so I had to practice a bit to learn how the heat "moves around" inside the piece.

Other techniques for bending pipes - which I don't know how to adapt to flattening out segments PVC pipes into armor plates - are pouring hot sand or boiling water inside the pipe - sand seems to give good results for applying even heat. Boiling water is good enough only for bending the pipe in an arc.

Don't burn yourself! The temperature will have to exceed 100C by 10 or more degrees (less than 120 I think). Figure out a way to not lay hot plastic on your body!
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Lunajammer
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« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2019, 04:26:31 pm »

I recommend you visit the Replica Prop Forum (therpf.com). It's a busy site with prop and costume makers of every sort who specialize in and experiment with the materials you're asking about.
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Kensington Locke
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« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2019, 02:40:28 pm »

there is a different kind of thermoplastic cosplayers use for making armor. the name escapes me and the wife has not woken yet as she knows what its called from her own specific research.
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Anselmofanzero
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« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2019, 04:03:37 pm »

Polymorph / Polyshape / Gorilla Plastic?
Polystyrene would also work for plating.
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bicyclebuilder
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« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2019, 09:07:07 am »

I recommend you visit the Replica Prop Forum (therpf.com). It's a busy site with prop and costume makers of every sort who specialize in and experiment with the materials you're asking about.
I have logged in to the Replica Prop Forum, trying to learn more about armor making.

@Kensington Locke and Anselmofanzero; These are little pallets of thermoplastics? Do they also come in sheets or tubes?
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Anselmofanzero
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« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2019, 10:38:19 pm »

If you need plates, as mentioned, get polystyrene. You can even carve it in shape with a blade, then sand it.
The pellets fuse together and then you can shape it...there are tutorials.
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ForestB
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« Reply #9 on: September 02, 2019, 10:09:46 pm »

I believe the thermoplastic you are talking about is called worbla... ( Not sure I spelled it right)
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Anselmofanzero
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« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2019, 12:55:25 pm »

In the end its all the same crap....a clinex is just a branded tissue :p
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J. Wilhelm
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« Reply #11 on: September 08, 2019, 01:40:54 am »

In the end its all the same crap....a clinex is just a branded tissue :p

Clinex? Is that the spelling in Germany?
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Anselmofanzero
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« Reply #12 on: September 08, 2019, 10:43:02 pm »

Thought its the american equivalent actually. Over here its Tempo tissues.
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J. Wilhelm
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« Reply #13 on: September 09, 2019, 12:18:09 am »

Thought its the american equivalent actually. Over here its Tempo tissues.
The power of marketing. But to be honest since I returned to the US in 1987, I've heard very few people call them "Kleenex" (the spelling here and in Mexico). Most Americans (at leastiin California and Texas) simply say, "facial tissue." I think that Mexicans were far more likely to call them Kleenex, actually. Kimberly Clark, the parent company behind the brand is very big in Mexico, most paper products were made by them locally, including school notebook pads. Their monopoly pushed people to call them by their American brand name.
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Deimos
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« Reply #14 on: September 09, 2019, 07:04:25 am »

.... But to be honest since I returned to the US in 1987, I've heard very few people call them "Kleenex" (the spelling here and in Mexico). Most Americans (at leastiin California and Texas) simply say, "facial tissue."

Depends on where you live (or where you hail from). I'm from the midwest and there it is always "kleenex".
I live in Arizona which has a lot of people from a lot of other states.  You hear "kleenex" about equally with "tissue",
but not "facial tissue."  
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J. Wilhelm
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« Reply #15 on: September 09, 2019, 08:36:37 am »


 Cheesy I guess I meant "tissue" not necessarily "facial tissue."  Grin But we're really digressing from the subject here! Unless we plan to suggest to Mr. Bicycle builder to use Kleenex based Papier-mâché to build his armor!  Cheesy Cheesy
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Deimos
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« Reply #16 on: September 09, 2019, 12:22:00 pm »

OK, I get it, but an occasional digression (if it doesn't digress too far) makes life interesting.
You can learn some of the most fascinating, if not bizarre, trivia by way of (let us call them) tangential discussions.   
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bicyclebuilder
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« Reply #17 on: September 09, 2019, 12:35:04 pm »

Paper maché has crossed my mind, but not with tissues.

Back on topic: I have seen on youtube that boiling water is sufficient to soften PVC, but not enough to melt it.
It looks like the goldielox temperature for forming PVC.

I also looked at therpf.com. I think it can help me for technical questions and it looks like a nice friendly online community.
The people on therpf do tend to go for a cosplay attire, based on an existing (movie, game) character.
My character is more generic. I'd rather create my own character.
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Peter Brassbeard
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« Reply #18 on: September 09, 2019, 05:23:42 pm »

Boiling water is at the very lower edge of what you want to heat form PVC.  A heat gun (keep it moving to avoid burning one spot), or an oven at 300F tends to work better.  Mind that you don't burn yourself.
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Anselmofanzero
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« Reply #19 on: September 09, 2019, 05:44:32 pm »

Yeah, I dont think its PVC. Soften means you can shape it, melting it means you can turn tiny lil bits into a uniform mass...
Maybe there is a data sheet for one of them. Should tell what is is...chemically.
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von Corax
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« Reply #20 on: September 10, 2019, 02:51:20 am »

Polymorph / Polyshape / Gorilla Plastic?
Polystyrene would also work for plating.

I believe the thermoplastic you are talking about is called worbla... ( Not sure I spelled it right)

Worbla comes in sheets and is formable at 90°C. Polymorph and Shapelock are polycaprolactone pellets which can be formed at 60°C.

Hope that helps.
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« Reply #21 on: September 10, 2019, 03:35:05 am »

As I wrote close to the start of the thread, 100 C may not sound like a lot, but it is enough to burn yourself. Unless you're boiling in a large cauldron and handling it with tongs, it will be difficult to control the internal flow of heat in a pipe of pvc, let alone trying to straighten it into a bowl or a plate shape. Boiling water is suitable for bending pipes into large arcs only (pouring the hot water inside the pipe) , because you're working at barely enough temperature to do anything, as Mr. Brassbeard stated. I've heard of people using hot oil, but I really don't like the thought of it. Sand gets hotter and is controllable, but still dangerous.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2019, 03:36:38 am by J. Wilhelm » Logged
rovingjack
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« Reply #22 on: September 10, 2019, 05:57:49 am »

how big a surface are you making?

for large sheets of materials that you can paint I might use playdo to make a sculpt, make a plaster mold, take the dough out and then is water based polyeurothane and layers of cloth or paper towels that soak in the Poly and stick together.

or get styrofoam scraps and cut and stick them together, before coating in water based poly.

you should be able to build something sturdy enough with those and paint them with spray paint well enough.
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bicyclebuilder
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« Reply #23 on: September 10, 2019, 03:07:37 pm »

#Snip# Unless you're boiling in a large cauldron and handling it with tongs, it will be difficult to control the internal flow of heat in a pipe of pvc, let alone trying to straighten it into a bowl or a plate shape. #Snip#
And this is exactly my idea. Basically submerge a peice of PVC tube into boiling water to soften the material.
The tube I have in mind, have thin walls, so the internel flow of heat would be quick and evenly.
The biggest part would be the chest, back and legs. But I want to design it so I have parts that are shorter than 50cm.

About the design, I have made a Pintrest page for refrence and inspiration. I'm not sure if I'm going for a certain period armor or a fantasy design.
There are so many designs from different era's and countries. Also the purpose of an armor have different designs.
I have a bit of a tummy, so a slim fitting chest plate will not do.  Wink
https://nl.pinterest.com/steven6773/knight-armour/
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Anselmofanzero
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« Reply #24 on: September 10, 2019, 08:43:18 pm »

90°C sounds like the stuff I meant...60 means, you cant leave it in your car on a hot summerday :p
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