Thermoplastics

Thermoplastics

 

Introduction

These are reviews based on personal experience. Thermoplastics react to heat. The most common method of working with thermoplastic is to use a heat gun to warm up the plastic so it's soft and flexable, mould it to the desired shape and wait for it to cool. Once the plastic is set, it will harden. Don't worry about getting the shape wrong first time, you can re-heat and remould the plastic. This does mean if you leave your finished armour in the car on a hot day, it will melt so do be careful!

 

The most common way of using thermoplastic is to create a foam base and wrap the foam with worbla. It creates a more durable and smooth exterior than just plain foam. Check out Kamui Cosplay for books and video tutorials.

 

Epuiptment needed to work with thermoplastic:

  • Heat gun - to shape the thermoplastic
  • Clay sculpting tool - for sharp edges and pressing down on seams
  • Dremel - to sand down the seams

 

*Tip:* You can use every last inch of thermoplastics. All you have to do is pile them up, heat the lot and roll it out with a rolling pin to form a sheet again. So do keep all your little scraps and not waste any!

 

I usually get my thermal plastics from one of two places: CosplayMats and Coscraft. If I'm buying in bulk, CosplayMats tend to be cheaper (by like £4 per roll) but if I needed some in a hurry, Coscraft would be my prefered choice.

Worbla (Normal)

This is probably the most used thermoplastic in cosplay. This feels a little thicker than the other thermoplastics. It's easy enough to work with and sets quickly. Since it's thicker than the other plastics, you have to put a little more effort in to heating and shaping.

 

The platsic has two sides, the shiny side with the glue and the dull side. Although worbla does stick to itself, ideally you would want the glue side down. Once you have moulded your shape, you will see it finishes with a rough texture. You can either sand this or cover it in a few layers of woodglue to smooth it off. Do make sure you either press the seams in and/or give the seams a good sand after. Your armour will look terrible with worbla seams. Do be careful; if you heat it up too much and try to stretch it, it will tear and it will require a significiantly more work to smooth it back out.

 

 

Pros:

- Easy enough to use.

 

Cons:

- Finishes with a rough-ish texture

- Heavy if you coat the entire armour with it

- Potentially reduce mobility

 

Flexiblity: 6.5/10

Ease of Use: 7/10

Texture: 6/10

 

Wrobla (Black)

Significantly smoother than normal Worbla. It feels a little thinner as well so it is a little easier to work with. Still not a perfect surface but it is much better than the normal one. It will require at least a couple thick layers of woodglue to smooth it out completely. I feel it's less sticky than normal worbla but then again I might be doing it wrong. I've heard that it's harder for paint to stick to the black worbla's surface but I haven't experienced any difficulties so far.

 

Pros:

-Much smoother finish

-Holds well

 

Cons:

-Less sticky

 

Flexiblity: 7/10

Ease of Use: 7/10

Texture: 7/10

 

 

Thermocraft

This is a new plastic I've discovered. It's even smoother than black Worbla and it is extremly sticky and squishy. I can create near-seamless edges becuase I can squish the two surfaces together once the plastic is heated. I would recommend working with this a little at a time and avoid heating the whole surface all together. Once the two surfaces touch, it's impossible to peel it apart. I didn't feel like I need to apply extra woodglue to smooth the surface out.

 

Pros:

-Sticky AF

-Creates an extremely smooth surface

-Smooth seams without sanding

 

Cons:

-Sticky AF

-Very low margin for failure

 

Flexibility: 12/10

Ease of Use: 8/10

Texture: 8/10

 

Wrobla(Transparant)

Extremely smooth surface and it's transparant. You can create your own custom shaped windows and shapes. It feels extremely stiff and difficult to use. It cools rapidly, so constant heat must be applied. If you apply too much heat on it, it will leave an ugly yellowish brown burn mark which looks like someone has smeared poop on that spot.

 

Pros:

-Easy to work with

-Holds well when heat formed

-Burns before it melts

-Comes in a wide selection of thickness and density

 

Cons:

-Easily burnt

-Does not stick

-Difficult to use

 

 

Flexibility: 4/10

Ease of Use: 3/10

Texture: 10/10

 

Polymorph

This comes in little beads. It works exactly the same way as the sheets do; you heat it up, mould it then wait for it to cool. Instead of heating it up with a heat gun, you can heat it up in a mug of boiling water. It has a work time of about 5-7 minutes before you have to re-heat it. Once it's heated up, it has a stiffer-playdoh like texture to it. Just imagine moulding playdoh but you only have about 5 minutes to work with it. I am still new to this material and my experience has limited me to only using it for gems and simple sculptures. It's difficult acheive the perfect shape if you're doing it free hand. I would recommend pressing this against a shape/mould to create a pattern. Sort of like casting but less messy.

 

Pros:

-Good for moulding

-Easy to use

 

Cons:

-Difficult to reheat big blocks

 

Flexibility: 9/10

Ease of Use: 7/10

Texture: 8/10

 

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