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 Pilot's Vinyl Over Foam Tut, [ FABRIC ] [ FOAM ]
Pilot
Posted: Mar 15 2010, 10:43 AM


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Alright, so I was looking at the cosplay.com VOF guide again (it's due to be reworked this month), and realized that the OP had made--what I saw to be, from my experience with the material at least--a mistake right off the bat. It doesn't appear in the photos too well, but as someone that made that very same mistake the first time I worked this way, it can result in a disappointing finished product. So here I give you:

ONE OF MANY WAYS TO USE VINYL AND FOAM
AND MAKE IT LOOK REALLY GOOD

...wherein I'll describe how I made Mirage.

STEP 1: GET YER CRAP TOGETHER


For this method, you'll need 5 things:
  • Vinyl fabric
  • Foam
  • Glue
  • Metal palette knife
  • Scissors or precision xacto (I use a #1 blade for the foam and a pair of gingher fabric shears for the vinyl)
VINYL

For info on buying vinyl, check out my Vinyl Buying guide so you know what you're buying.

FOAM

This method works with just about any kind of foam under the sun. The most common types are polyethelene (craft foam), minicel, volara, and upholstery foam.

GLUE

For this tutorial, I've used Weldwood contact cement (in the red can), and 3M Super 77:
user posted imageuser posted image


In addition to hot glue and super glue.

METAL PALETTE KNIFE

user posted image

You can use any size or shape you want, but it really should be made of metal. Why? It's MUCH easier to clean the glue off it when it inevitably dries and builds up, and it is far less likely to break on you. The kind I like to use is straight and rectangular-ish with a flat end.

Once you have all of those things, proceed onward!

STEP 2: APPLYING THE GLUE


Get out your can of weldwood. Be sure to work in a well-ventilated area (I'd do well to take my own advice here), because the fumes from this stuff are very strong. It can also be messy if you're not careful, so always work on newspaper or plastic or something.

Right then. Get your piece of foam and your palette knife. Dip your knife into the glue (coating it well), scrape the excess off the topside of the knife, and spread it onto the foam. Make absolutely sure that you spread the glue EVENLY and THINLY. Globs of glue will show under the vinyl, and it will also dry unevenly, resulting in unsightly texture on the surface of the vinyl where the glue is still wet. And be sure that the coat is thin, but not too thin, otherwise the foam will absorb it (unless it's volara, which has more of a plasticy surface) and the tack will be completely gone by the time you go to stick the fabric to it.

Once you've done that, let the glue dry for a few seconds. And literally just for a few seconds; I wouldn't let it sit longer than a minute. Once the shine is gone from the glue, but it is still tacky to the touch, give it a good spray-over with the super 77. It will be EXTREMELY tacky for about a minute or two, and that is your window of opportunity for placing your vinyl.

(This is actually where the cosplay.com tut makes the mistake. In the tut, the OP says to cover both the foam AND the vinyl with weldwood, letting them dry for 20 minutes before putting them together. With all the vinyl I've ever used, applying the contact cement directly to the vinyl ruins the glossy surface. Instead, I'd get this finely rippled texture, and warping of the fabric that takes a lot of stretching to hide it. Also in my experience, the weldwood dries extremely quickly because of the porous foam, and putting too thick a layer runs the risk of uneven glue application showing through the fabric. Your materials and experience might differ, however, so a small test piece is definitely in order if you've never done this before or are working with a different fabric.)

STEP 3: APPLYING THE VINYL


Prepare your piece of vinyl. It should be clean and free of wrinkles or any other kinds of marring that I mention in the buying guide. If you're new to this method or are covering a relatively simple piece, I'd suggest having your shape pre-cut and ready to go, with about an extra inch on each side.

Place your vinyl onto the piece of foam, being careful to leave the extra inch of fabric along the edges. Stretch it over the foam to the best of your ability without warping the piece; if you find that you've left wrinkles or bubbles in the fabric, quickly pull up the problem area and carefully stretch it down again. If you spend too much time adjusting, then the glue will dry and the fabric won't hold. You'll have to repeat the gluing process again.

STEP 4: FINISHING THE PIECE


Wow, looks gorgeous, doesn't it? All of that work really pays off.

Now, to finish off your piece, you'll want to break out the hot glue gun and your cutting implement of choice. What you want to do is cut out the corners off your vinyl so that you can fold the resulting strips back and glue them down on the backside. Here's a tip:

user posted image


For places that you HAVE to do this sort of thing with, like in small wedges and stuff, that's where using black foam comes in handy. All exposed black foam (unless it's a protruding corner, really) will read as a "shadow", and not as "a piece of exposed something".

So once you've cut away the corners, go ahead and be as sloppy as you want with the hot glue. Just make sure you pull the fabric taught as the glue dries, otherwise you could end up with wrinkles later when the foam bends. Sometimes it's better to glue both the fabric to the edges and the backside, as in some situations the fabric will bubble up a little bit at the edge; this is especially so if that edge will be superglued to another covered piece, creating a seam.

Now you can glue this to other pieces if you want, using the superglue if you intend on bonding vinyl to vinyl. If it's foam to foam, stick with the hot glue, and if it's vinyl to foam, coat the foam in a thin layer of hot glue, let it dry completely, and then apply the superglue.


COMPLEX CURVES


At some point you'll be wondering how to achieve silky smooth complex curves like your favorite mecha cosplayer too. How do they do it? Well, I can tell you, but I've yet to hunt down the best glue, as well as that legendary beast "Larissa" that I keep hearing about. (Googling "larissa fabric" yields nothing. Now it's got me wondering if it's in fact just patent vinyl with the backing removed?) So, if you're like me and can't find it, use a really good 4-way stretch fabric like spandex, lycra, or 4-way vinyl.

For this, you're probably going to want a heat source as well, since PE/craft foam heat forms very nicely, which can help you achieve a smoother curve. Make sure you know what pieces need heat-shaping, and which directions they need to be shaped.

Keeping in mind that this is a ghetto tutorial that utilizes things that the layperson has access to, we're also just going to use hot glue for this too. That's right, heat shaping with hot glue keeping everything together.

So cut out your shapes, and give them a preliminary heating up with your tool of choice: stovetop, heat gun, etc. It doesn't take much at all; in fact, too much and you'll ruin the foam. Practice on a piece of scrap so you can get the hang of it. Once those are all done, glue them together into the thing that you're making, taking pains to make the seams as absolutely neat as possible, and let the glue dry completely. Take it to the heat again, and little by little, finish off the curve you were working at to get it as smooth as possible, making sure not to re-melt the glue. (The foam itself is a very good insulator and does not conduct heat well at all, so only the glue that is directly exposed on the surface of the piece is likely to re-melt.)

Once that's done, prep the surface for gluing. This is a little more of a pain in the butt to cover because of the curves, so work fast! There will be lots of wrinkles that you have to pull out and adjust as you move outward from the central point that you laid down the fabric.

That's about it, really. I'll definitely be sure to update this once I can find out what in the heck larissa is, and what proper heat-resistant glue to use (if, in fact, there is one). Here's a picture of the first real complex curve that I did, which turned out surprisingly alright:

user posted image


That little wrinkle off on the side there is the only one on the whole thing. Pretty good, huh? That's with 4-way stretch vinyl, so make a mental note that that's about the extent of it's curve-covering capabilities without cutting darts.


OTHER TIPS


A NOTE ON GLUES

Geoff (I3ooI3oo) uses this stuff called Quick Stick!, and swears by it:
QUOTE
So this is a web spray adhesive designed for use with foam, which means it sprays on in a thick coating to better bond porous substances. Though that also means that if you're using it to bond vinyl to foam you need to spread it out.
I have used the gamut of spray adhesives and this one works the best out of all of them. it dries clear and creates a strong lasting bond. I used this on part of my blurr costume (because I didn't find it until after I had started.) Specifically I used it on one thigh and on the other one I used the 3M-80 spray glue, by the end of the day the quick stick thigh was still in perfect condition even where it had rubbed up against other pieces though the 3M-80 thigh was starting to bubble up.
This glue is cheaper, lasts longer, works faster, and is easier to use then any 3M glue I've tried and I've tried all but one.


A NOTE ON FABRICS

Regular PVC vinyl is, while being lightweight, not very stretchy at all. This makes for some difficulty when trying to cover complex curves, or shapes that curve in more than one direction at a time (i.e. a dome shape versus a 'U' shape). This can be solved either with CAREFULLY cutting darts into the fabric (not suggested if you're not Japanese), or just by acquiring a more stretchy fabric to begin with. 4-way stretch PVC vinyls do exist, but they're more expensive than their 2-way stretch counterparts and often come in far fewer colors. I've heard them described as being "liquid oil", so they probably take to complex curves very well. (I have yet to experiment with the stuff myself, though.)

There is also a fabric that the Japanese mecha cosplayers use that's called Larissa, to which you apply acetone to the back in order to peel the plastic away from it and apply from there. I've never heard of this or seen it before in my life, so I couldn't tell you where to get it or how it works.

Lastly, there's spandex. Really, really stretchy stuff, though it doesn't stick quite as well with the glues I've used, and will often pull up if used to cover concave curves just by sheer tension from stretching it. Though, I will say that I was able to cover a good portion of a baseball helmet with the stuff without having to cut darts. (I did have to cut darts eventually, though.)


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Laserbot
Posted: Mar 17 2010, 10:21 AM


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okies this is very helpful! biggrin.gif im gana keep this in mind for if i like to try make a more rigid costume in the future! ;P


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Melrajas
Posted: Mar 6 2012, 06:56 AM


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So about vinyl thing i couldn't find any equivalent material for it in my country. What areas does it used for? I mean is it canvas? is it used in decoration, car decors, house decors, industry? Can you give me detailed examples for the usage area?

Thanks...

Edit: Also what is contents of that material? Polyester, Polyurethane, Polyester and Polyvinylchloride etc.
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Pilot
Posted: Mar 6 2012, 07:39 AM


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When we say vinyl, we usually mean PVC, or polyvinyl chloride. It should be thin, light, and only have a slight stretch to it (unless you're buying a 4-way stretch kind).

In case you missed it, here's a link to my vinyl buying guide to help you identify what you'll probably want to use.


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Melrajas
Posted: Mar 6 2012, 10:25 PM


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well i read the tutorials and they are really helpful. You suggested to use glossy one but where is it used for? i found a website for my country and the product is some refrigator cover pvc but it has self adhesive on the back.

http://urun.gittigidiyor.com/ev-dekorasyon...m-30cm-52684770

Is it something like this?
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Melrajas
Posted: Mar 7 2012, 02:20 AM


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or is it something like this fabric used to cover trucks

http://www.kayaplastik.com.tr/tr/pvc-branda-tir-brandasi
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Pilot
Posted: Mar 7 2012, 09:00 PM


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I'm afraid not... it's used for making clothes and costumes by sewing, mostly. Here's what wikipedia says:

QUOTE
Vinyl-coated polyester Vinyl-coated polyester is the most frequently used material for flexible fabric structures. It is made up of a polyester scrim, a bonding or adhesive agent, and exterior PVC coatings. The scrim supports the coating (which is initially applied in liquid form) and provides the tensile strength, elongation, tear strength, and dimensional stability of the resulting fabric. Vinyl-coated polyester is manufactured in large panels by heat-sealing an over-lap seam with either a radio-frequency welder or a hot-air sealer. A proper seam will be able to carry the load requirements for the structure. The seam area should be stronger than the original coated fabric when testing for tensile strength.

The base fabric's tensile strength is determined by the size (denier) and strength (tenacity) of the yarns and the number of yarns per linear inch or meter. The larger the yarn and the more yarns per inch, the greater the finished product's tensile strength.

The adhesive agent acts as a chemical bond between the polyester fibers and the exterior coating and also prevents wicking. Wicking is the term used to describe the action of fibers absorbing water, which could result in freeze-thaw damage in the fabric.

The PVC coating liquid (vinyl Organisol or Plastisol) contains chemicals to achieve the desired properties of color, water and mildew resistance, and flame retardancy. Fabric can also be manufactured that contains high levels of light transmission or can be made completely opaque. After the coating has been applied to the scrim, the fabric is put through a heating chamber that dries the liquid coating. PVC coatings are available in a range of colors, although non-standard colors can be pricey. Colors may be subject to minimum order runs that allow the coating machine to clear out traces of any previous color.


I wish I could help you find the Turkish name for it, though. I'd suggest going into a normal fabric store and asking what it's called in your language and where to find it? If you find out, do let us know. :]


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Melrajas
Posted: Mar 12 2012, 04:27 AM


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this is we call "branda" in Turkish
http://basboga1974.trustpass.alibaba.com/p...ter_Fabric.html

is this the right material cause in Goldy's tutorial video the guy said that the vinyl must be pure pvc front and back sides. That's why i am little confused. But the product at the link has one side pvc coated other is polyester.
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Pilot
Posted: Mar 12 2012, 01:14 PM


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Last I checked, Goldy starts off with a fabric material and removes the PVC from the polyester backing-- I, and the majority of others, use it with backing left intact.

You can buy rolls of PVC film online (I'm under the impression that it's somewhat expensive, especially if you're not buying in bulk), but the learning curve is relatively high, especially if you're doing anything more than flat shapes and boxes. If this is one of your first costumes, or your first mecha, I'd highly recommend going a different route.


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Melrajas
  Posted: Mar 12 2012, 10:01 PM


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QUOTE (Pilot @ Mar 12 2012, 01:14 PM)
Last I checked, Goldy starts off with a fabric material and removes the PVC from the polyester backing-- I, and the majority of others, use it with backing left intact.

You can buy rolls of PVC film online (I'm under the impression that it's somewhat expensive, especially if you're not buying in bulk), but the learning curve is relatively high, especially if you're doing anything more than flat shapes and boxes. If this is one of your first costumes, or your first mecha, I'd highly recommend going a different route.

well the price in the website is for buyers outside of Turkey i think. Anyways is that material(at the link) enough for me to take a start or should i need to search more?

Edit: Also at the comments of one of Goldy's videos on youtube the guy mentioned that the vinyl they are using is "soft linoleum" so i searched that material in Turkish websites and it is some kind of flooring material.

2nd Edit: I looked for "PVC Film" in Turkish websites. I think the material Goldy uses one side is silver(pvc) one side is white(polyester). But you said it was old material he uses film one now which in the website pictures both sides are same color i think. Confused wacko.gif
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Pilot
Posted: Mar 14 2012, 07:27 AM


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If this is one of your first costumes, I really wouldn't get so hung up on copying Goldy exactly. If you don't have the experience under your belt, then you're going to struggle with whatever material you buy-- especially the more complicated building methods, like the one he uses. Goldy's costumes only look so amazing because he's made like, more than a dozen suits that way!

It's better to aim a little lower and actually finish than give up because you're trying to make the perfect costume and can't, right?


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Melrajas
Posted: Mar 14 2012, 11:44 AM


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well there is the thing that i want my costume to be perfect but it will take one week one month or one year it doesn't matter. But if i can find the right material the only thing left is trials and errors. That is my purpose. Sure i can find eva foam seal it with plasti dip or glue thing than spray/brush paint but i want to make alphonse elric cosplay and i think Goldy's is the best. I mean vinyl over foam method is really good armkor making method. Anyways you are more experienced than me so you are probably right. I will giv it a try with what i have. Thanks for your concerns...
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NatsumeRyu
Posted: Mar 16 2012, 12:18 PM


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I would agree with Pilot. smile.gif If this is your first delve, I'm sure by the end of it you'll want to be remaking many of your early pieces with the experience you gained throughout, so it may be best just to aim to get it done first, and find out what you're good at, what you like, etc. during the process. That way when it's all said and done, no matter what huge experience you may gain, it should all still be relatively the same quality and look good all together.

If you're super stubborn & wanting to try and aim high - then I recommend at least just buying a little bit and then just building small things with it. Try it out and see if you have the skill for it of if you'll just be throwing money at it at that point. smile.gif


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2013 - Terminus Armor-Megaman-Lord Death-Tali
<12 - WfC Brawl-Gurren Lagann-Doc-Reaper Conduit-Rampage-Brawl-Camshaft-Jazz-Blackout-Starscream-Bumblebee
Melrajas
Posted: Mar 17 2012, 03:15 PM


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QUOTE (NatsumeRyu @ Mar 16 2012, 12:18 PM)
I would agree with Pilot. smile.gif If this is your first delve, I'm sure by the end of it you'll want to be remaking many of your early pieces with the experience you gained throughout, so it may be best just to aim to get it done first, and find out what you're good at, what you like, etc. during the process. That way when it's all said and done, no matter what huge experience you may gain, it should all still be relatively the same quality and look good all together.

If you're super stubborn & wanting to try and aim high - then I recommend at least just buying a little bit and then just building small things with it. Try it out and see if you have the skill for it of if you'll just be throwing money at it at that point. smile.gif

Thanks for comment. Just like you said today I bought some vinyl(i think it is the right material) and before got some polyethylene and eva foam, and also got contact cement and super glue ready. I will give it a first try tomorrow. I can share results with you after that. As you suggested I bought all the material except glue and cement a little pieces just to try if they are the right material.
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Melrajas
Posted: Mar 19 2012, 02:12 AM


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Ok First attempt= Success(used vinyl over polyethylene foam)
I made a simple bracelet and the vinyl i bought just gave the metallic finish that i want. Today or tommorrow i will try this vinyl over eva foam. I need some advices about the problems left after finding the right materials

1) my first and biggest problem after finding the right material is taking patterns. My drawing is not perfect i can scratch somethings on the paper but to make them real is something different. So i found this pepakura program and ready to use Alphonse elric files too but it looks to me too much detailed. Lots of numbers to join cause one simple curve can make 2-3 pages of printed pepakura file. Anyways what you guys do when taking patterns?

2) If i manage to create patterns some armor parts make me confused with this vinyl over foam method.To give you examples i prepare some links of the parts of Alphonse Elric armor. Hom can i do these parts.
forearm--> http://imageupload.org/?d=C71944441 you can see a part at the inner fore arm part of this armor part which is lower.
hole--> http://imageupload.org/?d=D583B1651 this part is like it has a screw on the shoulder.

Thanks for your concern...
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NatsumeRyu
Posted: Mar 19 2012, 08:13 AM


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Not too many of us here use Pepakura, but for the problems you suggested, what you're going to have to do is print the unwrapped pep file on to some paper or cardstock, and then transfer that to your foam like I transfer my stuff to shoeboxes. from there you can cut out your final shape in your foam materials, and glue them together appropriately. If your foam is thick (~5mm is pushing it) you'll just want to omit the tabs altogether, as you'll have enough surface area between each edge without the tabs to glue. If the EVA foam you're talking about is as thick as I'm thinking (like half an inch is what I'm used to seeing) you'll have to carve out some of the inside (inside of the form, not necessarily the fold) of folds/edges to get folds and lines properly. Once you finally get your shape done that way, then you can cover it with the PVC, and Pilot would be helpful on how to make that look pretty on shapes like you've shown.

As for the higher-poly form of the arm you talk about, if you are unable to create the shape with that many faces, you may have to find a lower-resolution file somewhere, or ask a 3D artist to lower the poly count for you. The final product will be less round, but will have less lines and folds. If the file you're using was intended for pepakura (IE they made it taking into consideration real life constraints) then they probably intended for it to be made out of a thin 1-2 mm material like cardstock.
But like I said, most folks here don't use pepakura, they do something else magical where they build mock-ups and cut out shapes and stuff out of cheap material until they figure out the shape they want (no idea how this works.... LOL). Then they disassemble it and transfer the final shapes to their real materials, as far as I understand it. smile.gif


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Melrajas
Posted: Mar 19 2012, 11:15 PM


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The fact is when i apply contact adhesive to foam at first the foam bents a little than turn to normal shape. Is this normal? I am using this adhesive http://arigroup.ge/view_bison_kit.php is it good? At this tutorial it is mentioned that not to apply contact adhesive to vinyl's back only to foam's surface. Goldy applies to both. So i did it both sides on my attempts. The difference is(and i think it is because of my vinyl material) the contact adhesive i apply to back of the vinyl is much more than goldy's. The back of my vinyl material is a very absorbing surface. So what do you suggest? Should i only apply to only foam surface will it be enough? Another question is about corners. I am doing it like it is mentioned at this tutorial(90 degrees) but when i curl it the vinyl comes on top of vinly just like in this picture which i tried to draw. http://imageupload.org/?d=58C7701B1

Thanks...

Edit: Eva attempt is also success. I have sample of EVA foam of 3mm thickness. I know it is thin but i want to make arms from this piece which i had already bought. Will it be ok? Than i will turn to 6mm eva foam. Is that thickness good enough to make chest, legs and head(Maybe i will go 3mm on head)?

2nd Edit: Also how can i clean my spatulas after done applying contact adhesive.
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NatsumeRyu
Posted: Mar 20 2012, 12:04 PM


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QUOTE (Melrajas @ Mar 19 2012, 11:15 PM)
Another question is about corners. I am doing it like it is mentioned at this tutorial(90 degrees) but when i curl it the vinyl comes on top of vinly just like in this picture which i tried to draw. http://imageupload.org/?d=58C7701B1

Thanks...

Edit: Eva attempt is also success. I have sample of EVA foam of 3mm thickness. I know it is thin but i want to make arms from this piece which i had already bought. Will it be ok? Than i will turn to 6mm eva foam. Is that thickness good enough to make chest, legs and head(Maybe i will go 3mm on head)?

Do you have a picture of your corners?
It may help if you just fold the vinyl over and cut off excess rather than guesstimate the angle for a given corner. Pilot's 90* tip up there only works for corners at 90*. Any more or less of an angle and you'll need more or less of an angle on the vinyl to complete the corner edge.
Again, if you have a photo this will help us figure this out together. smile.gif

As for thickness, a good part of that is your preference. Some people need or prefer the thinner ones, others prefer thicker. Some good advice, though, is to just be aware of any areas that may need or want to flex. just be aware of what areas might get stressed (like near joints). smile.gif I hope that helps!


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<12 - WfC Brawl-Gurren Lagann-Doc-Reaper Conduit-Rampage-Brawl-Camshaft-Jazz-Blackout-Starscream-Bumblebee
Melrajas
Posted: Mar 22 2012, 07:00 AM


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About my other question which one is good both apply contact cement to backside of vinyl and foam or apply only to fam and then 3m spray. Second one is more suitable for me because too much cement needed for my vinyl's backside. It is absorbing a lot. Also where to use hot glue and where to use super glue can you give examples.

Thanks again smile.gif
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ambientvoid
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Do you know if there are more readily available UK alternatives for the contact cement and spray adhesive? Iv found 3M 77 but not 'Super 77' so i don't know whether this is the same stuff or not. And iv found Dap Weldwood 'Non Flammable' contact cement in a green tin going for 101 ($152) per 32fl oz tin, does this seem right to you?
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sergeant duck
Posted: Jul 14 2013, 01:00 PM


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Group: Senior Member
Posts: 410
Member No.: 104
Joined: 3-July 09



Hrmmm, that price does not sound right at all, whereabouts in the UK are you? If you know any military peoples, see if they can get you some of the stuff you need from RAF Mildenhall. Also, try sending a message to Amidoh, she is the one making MTMTE Skids and Rung. She also lives in England and might be able to point you in the right direction.
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