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  1. phantom6889's Avatar
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    Nov 3, 2011, 7:36 PM - Clay for vacuum forming #1

    Hey guys i love this site its soo cool, but uh what sort of clay should for vacuum forming something i mean i have a vacuum former but i don't know what clay to use.(I'm trying to make a scout trooper costume and i just need clay to sculpt some of the pieces. PLEASE HELP!

    for the honor of mandolor
  2. formerly Woodman woodman's Avatar
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    Nov 4, 2011, 4:06 AM - Re: Clay for vacuum forming #2

    I dont think clay will work for the actual vac bucks. there are very hard grades of clay but heat will soften them all and melt others. Also when you remove the parts from the bucks it will surely ruin the sculpture. You generally sculpt the part in clay and mold it then make a stone vac buck that is durable.
  3. formerly old_jedi_mind_trick Bobby Fett UK's Avatar
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    Nov 4, 2011, 5:51 AM - Re: Clay for vacuum forming #3

    Yeah, Woody correct here. Clay is not going to be the correct media to vac over. Plaster is the cheaper option, the harder stone powder types. Then you move on to metaized resins and even metal cast bucks. You can pull over other resins, but not in quantity, just low numbers.
  4. phantom6889's Avatar
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    Nov 4, 2011, 7:16 AM - Re: Clay for vacuum forming #4

    but what a bout sculpy i mean it bakes so will it melt? also what do you think happened here im not saying it was clay but just out of curiosity
  5. stormtrooperguy's Avatar
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    Nov 4, 2011, 11:55 AM - Re: Clay for vacuum forming #5

    That stormtrooper mold is likely ultracal, hydrocal or some other sculptural plaster.

    Clay will collapse under the pressure. Sculpey gets soft again when it heats up and will also be crushed.

    You need something extremely strong.

    For a sense of perspective, I used a spray paint can cap as a spacer on my table. It was crushed flat by the vacuum.

    To answer the next common question from there... people usually sculpt the piece out of something like clay, then make a waste mold and pour the ultracal into that to make the forming positive.

    Waste mold is a mold that you use once and throw away. I use alginate for that since it's cheap. Even being "cheap" it's still easy to spend $500 or so on waste mold materials on a big project.

    Alternately, the positive can be made from something really strong in the first place. I do a lot of my tools out of MDF coated in bondo, with the details built up out of bondo and epoxy putty.

    Either way, there's a lot of work to get to where you can form things
    Last edited by stormtrooperguy; Nov 4, 2011 at 12:04 PM.
  6. formerly old_jedi_mind_trick Bobby Fett UK's Avatar
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    Nov 4, 2011, 2:39 PM - Re: Clay for vacuum forming #6

    Quote stormtrooperguy said: View Post

    Either way, there's a lot of work to get to where you can form things
    Very true.
  7. phantom6889's Avatar
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    Nov 4, 2011, 5:02 PM - Re: Clay for vacuum forming #7

    What if i used wood
  8. stormtrooperguy's Avatar
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    Nov 4, 2011, 5:41 PM - Re: Clay for vacuum forming #8

    MDF and wood aren't that different, so I'd imagine it would work. You'd have to seal it REALLY well to ensure that there was no grain from the wood. Depending on your former a lot of detail can come through.

    I find MDF easier to carve/shape, but I don't see why wood wouldn't work.
  9. DarthMater's Avatar
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    Nov 4, 2011, 5:45 PM - Re: Clay for vacuum forming #9

    Check with the member redkraytdragon on here. He used wood for the mold for his vac formed back plate. If you do a search you may be able to find his thread where he shows how he built his molds. I think he used bond to finish the shape and to smooth out certain areas of his mold. Good luck with your project!
  10. phantom6889's Avatar
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    Nov 4, 2011, 6:42 PM - Re: Clay for vacuum forming #10

    but do you think i could even use potting foam,for example
  11. stormtrooperguy's Avatar
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    Nov 5, 2011, 5:49 PM - Re: Clay for vacuum forming #11

    The person in that video even said:

    if I had to redo it, I would make the molds out of Wood... Clay will stay wavy and Foam will never have a smooth enough surface... and will melt during the vacuum forming.
    Is there some particular reason you keep looking for alternative materials? Why not use something that's known to work and save yourself the effort?
  12. phantom6889's Avatar
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    Nov 13, 2011, 5:55 PM - Re: Clay for vacuum forming #12

    sorry that i havent replied but yes there is, its not that i wouldnt use MDF but but im just looking for a cheaper alternitive.i would even buy a kropserkel kit if i had to.(but there too expensive.)
  13. stormtrooperguy's Avatar
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    Nov 13, 2011, 9:11 PM - Re: Clay for vacuum forming #13

    not to sound super negative... but sculpting/forming your own armor usually costs a lot MORE than buying a kit, not less. it cost me a couple thousand to scratch build a clone vs about 800 for the most expensive kit available.
  14. formerly Woodman woodman's Avatar
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    Nov 14, 2011, 12:18 AM - Re: Clay for vacuum forming #14

    Quote phantom6889 said: View Post
    sorry that i havent replied but yes there is, its not that i wouldnt use MDF but but im just looking for a cheaper alternitive.i would even buy a kropserkel kit if i had to.(but there too expensive.)
    A 4'x8' sheet of MDF board cost about $15-$20 depending on where you are and you could make several bucks from one sheet but as a woodworker myself almost all types of armor has compound curves and MDF is not a beginner material I've been making cabinets from it for years and it takes real tools to work, yes you can do alot with a belt sander but I honestly believe you have the idea that it's an easy task to scratch build a suit of good armor. I dont mean to rain on you by any means. You'l need several sheets of MDF to make all the bucks and each one will be several layers of MDF thick and those will need to be solidly glued together and thats gonna take alot and I mean ALOT of clamps...real clamps not spring clamps.
    you'll end up with 10" thick slabs of wood you then have to sculpt and shape into the buck for each part. unless you plan on making armor to sell you will be spending a year to get one set and a ton of money and effort.

    I see you mention a Kropserkel kit are you building a Scout? I know those kit's are about $400. There's no way you can build bucks and vac a single set for anywhere near that.

    Dont take this as me taking a dump on you please I am just being realistic with you. the Bith mask run I am doing is a $500 initial cost project just to get the sculpture and mold done then I have to sell 3 to break even.
  15. stormtrooperguy's Avatar
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    Nov 14, 2011, 1:02 AM - Re: Clay for vacuum forming #15

    what he said

    i don't think i would have taken on a project like that at all if i didn't already have a fully outfitted workshop. and even then i picked up more as i went. at this point if you go to home depot and look for a sander or saw, i've probably got one
  16. phantom6889's Avatar
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    Nov 17, 2011, 8:18 PM - Re: Clay for vacuum forming #16

    Ok,i just wanted to do a costume for trooping at local conventions and parades (not 501st) and keep the suit for as long as i need it but since im doing it on a budget i think i will modify the old don post scout trooper helmet i have.As for the armour its self im going to buy rough cuts from kropserkel and hope for the best.Thank you guys for all your help.
  17. formerly Woodman woodman's Avatar
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    Nov 17, 2011, 10:54 PM - Re: Clay for vacuum forming #17

    You'll come out with something cool I know it. Best of luck and post up any problems or questions and someone will be here to help.
  18. StyX's Avatar
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    Nov 18, 2011, 12:17 PM - Re: Clay for vacuum forming #18

    The Stormtrooper form the video in most definitely NOT Legion worthy. It looks more like the crapy quality Rubie's Stormtrooper armor. Now I know you're not trying to do a Stormtrooper but a scout, I would still tell you what I tell everyone. Whitearmor.net is the BEST place to get armor. If you're going to troop (I.E. do parades and such) you are much better off joining the Legion where you get to do LOADS of charity work. You're also going to spend much more money trying to make a vacuum forming machine and making the molds than if you just bought a kit.
  19. stormtrooperguy's Avatar
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    Nov 18, 2011, 12:39 PM - Re: Clay for vacuum forming #19

    Quote StyX said: View Post
    You're also going to spend much more money trying to make a vacuum forming machine and making the molds than if you just bought a kit.
    quoted for truth! hopefully this thread will come up when someone searches for stuff later!

    my vac table cost a couple thousand to build
    the molds for my clone took a year and cost a couple thousand as well
    i burned through a few hundred bucks of plastic on prototyping before i even got good parts
    in the end, i'd have saved sooooooooo much money on a kit!

    do it because you love it. you want to create something new. you want the experience of doing it yourself. don't ever kid yourself into thinking you'll save money by scratch building formed armor!

    people get by making fett parts by hand since they are mostly flat / easy to make out of sheets. anything with lots of complex curves isn't going to work that way.

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