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Author Topic: Best ways to work with styrofoam?  (Read 116 times)

Offline homyakchik

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Best ways to work with styrofoam?
« on: June 27, 2018, 10:41:28 pm »
Hey, all

While visiting Hobby Lobby a little while back (it's about the only model store left in the area... <sigh>), I became intrigued by some of the shapes they have in the pre-formed Styrofoam section. I know the silly things'll take some extra work--I want to have the smooth finish at a minimum, and quite possibly attach lots of plastic (I like plastic; sue me). Given some of the shapes available, I've actually come up with a couple of possible kitbash/scratch-builds to do (the Perry Rhodan.Good Hope and a Torch Ship prototype from the Heinleinverse)(or the equivalent from my own 'verse).

Thing is, I want to find things that'll stick to the Styrofoam but won't melt it. I usually use acrylic paint, and either Elmer's glue (or some variant) or CA or epoxy when working with plastic or resin; don't know whether those'll adversely affect the Styrofoam or not. I'd also like to smooth out the 'texture' of the Styrofoam before I start attaching plates and details and greeblies. And of course, paint. I can airbrush, but I also like to use StuffMart spray bombs (I'm a cheap scut if I can be).

Has anyone out there ever done much with Styrofoam? To the point of being able to recommend things to work with, or things to not work with? Trolling for advice here; all suggestions are welcome.

Thanks in advance!

Davey

Offline homyakchik

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Re: Best ways to work with styrofoam?
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2018, 11:49:40 pm »
Well, if it's any help to anyone else (wow, look at all the replies...), I figured out a few things myself.

I can take styrofoam and smooth it out (as in "no styrofoam pellet outlines making a road surface") by using Elmer's Glue (same stuff kids eat in elementary school, yes). I take a large, disposable brush, put glue on the styrofoam, and brush it around for a reasonably even coat. One styrofoam piece (during testing) took just one layer to be sandably smooth; one of the hemispheres took two layers (and in a few places three). After that the surface was sandable as long as I was gentle, and my CA took nicely to random styrene pieces I placed for effect. In some places I put a layer of Bondo, and to my amazement it didn't melt the styrofoam where I'd coated it with EG (it did melt a hole at the edge where I got careless and dripped Bondo on au natural styrofoam, so watch out for that).  In the past I've thinned Bondo with acetone, to get a near-liquid version of it; I have not tried that here, as I'm confident the acetone would melt glue and styrofoam without stopping to blink.

After the Bondo'd dried on the surface (I let it get good and hard) I could sand it smooth and apply paint. I use both acrylics (for the ease of clean-up) and el cheapo rattle bombs from Stuff*Mart; both paints took to the now-layered styrofoam, and neither melted said styrofoam. I don't use enamel for anything if I can help it, so I haven't tested that paint on it.

Don't have any plans (yet) for a third styro-based model, but some of the shapes and sizes at HL are really intriguing me. At least now I know how to basically handle the stuff without having it melt into puddles.

Davey

Offline starsiegeplayer

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Re: Best ways to work with styrofoam?
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2018, 11:59:42 pm »
Thanks for posting your findings, Davey.  I have never used the stuff in models but have thought about it for displays.

 




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