Thursday, April 12, 2012

Foam Iron Man helmet

While looking at various websites to learn about vacuum forming, I found a guy who made suits using foam.
You can see his site here.

For his build he used something called Plastazote foam.
I have no idea where to find this foam, but curious to try it out, I went to the craft store and bought a bunch of Foam sheets.

For this build I decided to do yet another Iron man helmet.  The reason being, it's a simple build.

First I printed the pep files and attached them to the foam using a double sided tape.
and then using scissors and an exacto knife, I started cutting them out.

I used hot glue to put the pieces together.

After about 40 minutes, the face plate was done.

next - the rest of the helmet.

almost done...

The above 3 photos show the helmet more-or-less complete.
There are no "ears" right now but those will be made later.

The next step involves adding white glue to the surface to make it rigid.

So..... I may have mentioned in past blog entries that my cell phone often deletes photos I take.
Well, I took pictures of the foam helmet covered in white glue.  What a mess.
I don't know if it was the foam, or the paper stuck to it, but the glue didn't work too well.
Either way, my phone deleted those pictures.

I think I will blame a lot of my problems in life on my phone.
I think my next phone will be an iphone.

But, I am getting off the subject.

So, I used my new favorite - Plaster cloth.

I'm actually pleased with how this helmet is coming out so far.
We'll see if foam is a good substitue for paper and cardboard.

Next I applied wood filler to the helmet.

Below is a picture of my 2 iron man helmets side by side.

While the wood filler was drying I hopped on the computer and started to make his round 'ears'.

I love pep files, but things I do not like about it are the parts on helmets that are hollow, such as Iron man's ears.  So i decided to make a solid ear out of cardboard.  To do this I measured the size of the ears near the base of the helmet, furthest from the helmet and the space in between.  I created an illustrator file which had the gradation from largest size to smallest size to help in making the slope of the ear. 
Then I printed out the file and cut out ear circle.  Knowing the thickness of the cardboard, I only needed to make 6 circles.  The photo above shows the 6 different sized circles from largest (1) to smallest (6).

And above is a photo of all layers glued together.  You can see the slant from the different sizes, and once it's dried I will use sandpaper to give the sides a smooth surface.

Since I already have a few iron Man helmets in the works, I decided to cut up this helmet so that I can vacuum form it.  To do this, I need the helmet insides to be solid - so I will be using expanding foam to fill it.

I'm going to use pieces of cardboard to cover the eye holes.

I placed the cardboard on the inside and hot glues it from the outside

Since hot glue does not stick too well to wood filler I applied a lot of hot glue to make sure no foam escapes through the eyes.

Here we see Iron Man and a scout helmet awaiting foam.

I used one bottle of expanding foam for gaps over 1 inch.  At this point it did not completely fill the helmet but in the next few hours I expect it to over flow a bit.

An X-Wing helmet, and scout helmet join Iron Man in waiting for the foam to expand and cure.
Since I can only use a can of expanding foam once, I try to do as many helmets as I can, at the same time.

A few hours later I added just a little bit more foam making sure to apply it under the sides and chin.

When the foam dried I drew in lines to note where I was going to cut the helmet.

I'm going to cut out the face plate first, and then cut the rest of the helmet in half.

Using an X-acto knife, I scored first and then cut through the foam/plaster outer layer.

Then using a serrated knife, I cut through the foam insides.

All cut.

Unfortunately, the insides were still sticky and had not cured.

Once again the foam didn't cure because no air was able to get inside.

Once the inside layers dry I will add some more expanding foam.

But everything is a lesson.  I now know that in the future I should cut the helmets first and then add expanding foam.  I wish I learned this before I decided to fill 5 helmets with foam, but oh well.

So once everything dried, I added more foam.

I put them both in cardboard boxes so that the foam overflow doesn't get anywhere else.

When the foam dried, I cut the helmet in half.

Then I trimmed the foam.

And now I have 3 parts of an Iron Man helmet ready for Vacuum Forming.

So all in all you can successfully use foam to make a pepakura helmet.  It holds hot glue quite well, and is pretty easy to score and fold.  I think foam can be quite useful especially for builds that involve a lot of curves.  It is especially easy for people who want to make a pepakura build with something thicker than cardstock, and more flexible and easier to cut than cardboard.

UPDATE:  I found someone made a Stormtrooper helmet out of the same foam material I used in this blog posting.  You can see his awesome helmet here!

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