Strengthening 3D printed parts… with Holes?..

Hello, Sunday!

 

Silence reigns as it rains down on this blog, but bear with me, for I yet persevere through my final year.

I’ve been doing a lot of 3D printing recently on my self built CoreXY “ETA”, and I had to make a case for a portable speaker I have. The speaker in question had rudimentary loops for tying it to something, but was rather insufficient for actually wearing on a belt. Having a 3D printer, I decided to print a case for it.

1.png

The blue object is the case, and the black body is a mock-up of the speaker

I quickly modeled a case for the speaker on Fusion 360, it’s a simple design where you slide the speaker into the case from the top, and a pair of clips snap onto indents on the speaker. Pretty straightforward, but during self review, I ran into a little problem. The case was 3mm thick on most sides, and as FDM/FFF 3D prints by nature are weak along the vertical Z axis, the clips looked like they would wear and break fairly quickly.

2.png

This is the orientation at which the print would be on the bed. The thin section just below the clasp is the weakest section, as repeated bending would result in it snapping off eventually.

Traditional knowledge would lead one to assume the simplest solution would be to increase the thickness of the section, or add structural elements like ribs to strengthen it.

Practical knowledge would assume that it would be unlikely that I would want to repeatedly remove the speaker from it’s case. Perhaps there could be better designs that would have eliminated the flaw entirely. However, I came up with a little trick to take full advantage of my medium, Fused Filament Fabrication, and exploit the way slicers work.

I started with making a void in my part. Yes, I plan on making it stronger by removing material. Removing material is typically used to maintain strength while keeping the weight down like with I-beams or fullers. However I use it here to induce a certain feature in the slicer. I created a side profile of the weak point in question, and hollowed out a tiny sliver, 0.1mm thick.

3.png

A sectional analysis of the case reveals the paper thin void modeled into the case

“What’s that going to change?”, you may be asking your screen, but rhetoric questions to a monitor aren’t going to get you answers, scrolling down will. This is the result when the model is sliced in Cura.

4.png

The original shell thickness would have been 4 shell lines + the infill, but here it’s 8 shells, which should result in greater strength and bonding.

In my experience, infill has a marginal influence on strength. Around 15% is good for structural integrity, 30% for decent rigidity, and about 50-70% if you really want it as strong as possible. However, increasing shells is also an effective way to boost strength. By creating a hollow inside the weak section, the slicer prints additional shell lines in the area, and the shells fuse together to make it stronger.

5.png

Here you can see just 4 lines, infill, and 4 lines again in Cura’s Layer mode

Here is a view of the same layer in another section of the part, which is not reinforced with a void. You can see that when compared to the previous image, the number of perimeter loops is nearly doubled, effectively making the weak areas a nearly solid part.

IMG_20170806_093807_HDR.jpg

Here you can see a close-up of the part being printed. The clip on the left is nearly solid, whereas the wall on the right is hollow but for the infill.

If this case was to be injection molded, it’s strength would be vastly superior to a 3D print of the same. However, by exploiting the nature of 3D printer slicers, we are able to selectively increase the strength of our prints in areas where it is required without increasing the entire part’s material and time cost.

 

I hope this little tip aids you in your designs, please let me know your thoughts via the comments below, and if you would like more tips and tricks in 3D printing.

Thank you, and have a great week.

~Adithyaa

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MiniMake: Benchtop PSU

Hello Sunday!

So as I’m working on Project Eta right now, I need a source of power while I’m prototyping. Historically, I’ve been using 9v batteries and AA battery holders to provide power while prototyping, but obviously, that is less than perfect as a solution. So I had a couple old computer ATX power supplies laying around, and I decided to turn one of them into a benchtop power supply, as these handy little supplies provide 12v, 5v and 3.3v in neatly regulated cables. This project takes less than a weekend to finish,  and presumes you have basic skills with soldering connections and a grounded understanding of how electricity works.

WARNING! POWER SUPPLY UNITS CONVERT WALL OUTLET ELECTRICITY INTO LOW VOLTAGE HIGH CURRENT. ELECTROCUTION HAZARD AND DAMAGE TO YOURSELF/YOUR HOUSE’S WIRING/YOUR PSU AND YOUR PET GERBIL IS POSSIBLE. UNDERTAKE THIS PROJECT ONLY IF YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING. KIDS, DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME.

Components

  • Computer PSU, 2nd hand works well, ATX preferred.
  • LED/bulb for indicator
  • Switches
  • 2.1mm plugs, screw fit connectors, crocodile clips, etc.
  • Heat shrink tubing & solder

Tools

  • Multimeter
  • Drill
  • Sheet metal snips and tools
  • Soldering Iron
  • Wire Stripper

On Choosing ATX PSUs-

Most PSUs should work ATX works well because they usually have a bit more headroom for circulation, and they’re the most common and cheap. It’s advisable to use a second hand PSU for this project, as long as it works. Some old PSUs require a minimum load on the 5v line in order to properly regulate the 12v line. This can be fixed by adding a resistor onto the 5v line, but at low current applications it shouldn’t be an issue.

Benchtop PSU (2)

Here’s my PSU’s specs, and I doubt I’d be reaching anywhere near the limits

Procedure

Start by unplugging your PSU and leave it alone for around 15min, just in case the capacitors have any remaining charge in them. Remember to exercise caution and possibly even common sense while working.

Unscrew the 4 screws on the top of the box, and remove the upper shell. The PSU has two U shaped shells, one upper and one lower, which forms the body. The lower one has the electronics, fan, power port, and cables attached. If you want to paint your PSU afterwards, peel off the labels now, and give the upper shell a thorough scuffing with sandpaper, 120 should do it.

Now plan your layout for what you plan add to the box. I’m using 3 sets of crocodile clips, a 2.1mm jack for arduinos or the like, a 2.1mm port, a potentiometer, an indicator bulb and a power switch. You may want to adjust this depending on your anticipated usage, maybe using header ports instead of barrel plugs, your choice.

Use a marker or scriber to mark your layout, then use a drill to make the holes. Keeping a scrap of wood under the sheet metal as you’re drilling will prevent it getting dented or damaged as you drill. After drilling,  I used a pair of snips to cut a square hole for the main switch, and clean up the edges of the circular holes.

Benchtop PSU (3).JPG

Upper shell of the PSU, drilled and ready to receive the components.

After drilling the holes, give your box a gentle scuff of sandpaper to prepare it for painting. For my texture, I decided to go with hazard stripes, a lightning bolt and the word HAZARD on the top shell, and leave the lower shell as plain metal. I painted the entire box black with gesso primer, then I used 1in masking tape to create a diagonal masking pattern on the box. Using a paper cutter,  I cut out the details out of the masking tape strip, and then painted the entire shell lemon yellow.

Benchtop PSU (4).JPG

After the paint dries, peel off the tape, and behold your work. You can screw in your accessories at this point, I went with an old fairy light bulb for a mildly retro look, a potentiometer and a 2.1mm port.

connector_atx_pinout

Standard Pin layout for the thick wire bundle from your PSU, older PSUs use version 1, mine was v2

Next, we start the fun part, wiring. Observe the tangle of wires on your PSU, you’ll notice one thick bundle of around 20ish wires, and several thinner bundles. Use a wire cutter to cut the plugs off the thinner bundles. All the wires should be colour coded, although the colours vary depending on the manufacturer, but typically the yellow wires should be 12v, red is 5v and black is common. Use a multimeter to check just in case. Leave the PS_on, -12vdc, 5vsb and PWR_OK wires connected to the big plug for now, and cut all the 12v, 5v, 3.3v, and ground cables from the plugs as long as you can, pull them into the case and group them.

Benchtop PSU (5)

12v yellow, 5v red, ground black, 3.3v orange

Next, carefully observe which wires are PWR_OK, -12vdc, and 5vsb, and cut them from the plug. You can either snip these cables as close to the board as you can, or tie them up inside the case. The PS_ON wire is useful because when it is connected to ground, the PSU turns on. This cable is what we will connect to the power switch on the case. The 5vsb provides 5v dc at approx. 400ma even when the PSU is plugged in but off, so it can be used if you want to control the outputs with a micro-controller.

Next, we start soldering. I connected a ground cable and the PS_ON cable to the red main switch, and  I connected one of the 3.3v cables to my bulb, so that when the PS_ON switch is flipped the light comes on to indicate the PSU is live. Two 12v lines went to a pair of crocodile clips and a 2.1mm barrel plug. I used the potentiometer as voltage divider to control the power to one set of croc clips. I like to twist the wires around each other to keep them together, with a little ring of heat shrink at each end to prevent them unraveling. Remember to insert heat shrink before soldering!

Benchtop PSU (6).JPG

Once you’ve soldered all the wires you’re going to use, curl up the additional wires, zip tie them and push them to the side of the case. Remember, airflow is important inside the case to prevent overheating, so ensure that you haven’t blocked off the fan or its airflow path. Do a final test with a multimeter to check that all switches, plugs and wires function properly. Pull the crocodile clip wires out through the hole in the PSU case, and close up the case. Check that the tabs on either side of the upper shell properly align with the ones on the lower shell, and that its facing the right direction, and tighten the screws.

Thats it! Your PSU should be fully functional now, plug it in and give it a trial run. As a last minute feature, I glued a small strip of PVC foamboard (sunboard) to the rear of the case, and made some impressions in it so that I could clip my crocodile clips to it. This prevented the clips from accidentally touching and shorting out.

I hope you enjoyed this short MiniMake weekend project tutorial log, and I hope it was of use to you. If you’ve got any queries, please do leave a comment and I’ll reply as soon as I can and do consider sharing and subscribing for more weekly content.

Until next time,

Signing off,

~Adithyaa

Cosplay Build Log: Deadpool’s Swords(ninjatō)

Hello Sunday!

So I played the Deadpool game some time back before the movie came out, and I fell in love with it. Deadpool’s character brought back memories of one of my favorite early cartoon series and movies, The Mask, due to their similarity of zany insanity. Judging by the movie’s nuclear bunker-buster of a box office opening, I’d say the rest of the world seems to love the red suited psychopath too.

To that end, I was commissioned to make a pair of deadpool’s swords for a friend. As I’ve just finished and delivered the swords, I decided to upload this build log to detail how I made them, as the technique can be adapted to make most costume and cosplay swords.

This log is for how I made a wooden sword, which are sturdy and stiff, but very time consuming if you do not already possess the power tools for it. There are other processes to make cosplay swords, including my favorite method of sandwiching PVC foamboard, but I’ll detail that in another build log.

Materials Required

  • 12mm plywood, slightly larger than your sword blade
  • 1in CPVC pipe 20cm
  • Primer(I use black Gesso)
  • Acrylic paints
  • white m-seal
  • Epoxy/hot glue

Tools Required

  • Wood Files (Rasp & Bastard files)
  • Hand saw
  • Angle grinder with 80 grit sanding wheel(optional, a major time saver)
  • Sandpaper 80-200
  • Ruler and marker

Process

So I started off with a long strip of 12mm plywood approx 1m by 4cm, which was scrap left over from a previous project. I had it cut on a table saw so because hand cutting such a narrow piece is arduous, but a wood store may help you with the cutting when you’re buying your wood.

Deadpool Swords v1 WIP (0).JPG

I used a chalk pencil & marker, they’re both cheap and highlight well. Notice the black line on the edge of the blade, and the white line above. Those are the boundaries to sand within.

Once I got my sword blank, I started measuring out the dimensions. I marked 15cm for the handle at one end, and marked the slanted tip at the other. I then drew a white line running the length of the sword 1cm from the edge, on both sides, and a black line on the edge. This will be our guide to sand a neat straight blade edge. Sand strictly between these two lines removing most of the material with either an angle grinder or a rasp. Its better to apply light pressure and go at a uniform speed from one end to another, checking your work as you go. Remove a little less material while grinding is easier to fix than to remove too much.

Deadpool Swords v1 WIP (1)

One metric ton of sanding later…

After sanding the edge, use a bastard file to sand down any imperfections and make sure that you’ve got a nice, straight, and sharp edge. Look at the blade edge from one end of the sword to ensure its straight. M-seal, an epoxy plumber putty, is ideal for filling voids in the plywood, especially the M-seal White version. After this comes every maker’s favorite part, sanding!

Start with 80 grit and sand down the entire blade, both the flats, spine, and the edge until all the bumps and imperfections are gone. Then move to ~200 grit and once again sand the entire blade down. Be careful not to round the blade’s edge or where the edge meets the flat of the blade, we want crisp boundaries. The rule of thumb with sanding is that the more you sand the better the end surface will look.

Next, we take our 1in CPVC pipe, and cut it to length. My handles are approximately 15cm long, so cut the pipe to that length and file the ends to make them flat and smooth. To fit the blade into the handle, simply use a hand saw to narrow the handle area of the blade by 1 cm,and slightly round the edges with sandpaper. This narrower part of the blade which fits into the handle is called the “tang”, in sword glossary. Keep checking the fit, you want the pipe to be tightly fit around the tang, but not so tight that you may damage the tang by forcing it on.

Deadpool Swords v1 WIP (3)

The two swords, after sanding with the handles inserted.

Next, mix a medium-sized batch of epoxy, like Araldite, and use a ice cream stick to fill as much of the handle’s hollow interior as you can. You can put the epoxy on the tang before inserting it, but if you’ve got a good tight fit then the epoxy will just get scraped off the tang. Alternatively, you can use tape to cover the lower end of the handle, fill it a third full of epoxy, then insert the handle in. Alternatively, you could use hot glue,  as I did, but it has inferior strength as compared to epoxy. You really don’t want a sword flying off the handle when you swing it about.

To cover the ends of the pipe where the interior is visible, I find that M-seal works well.. Generously mix a batch and knead it into the openings with extra, and then sand it smooth.

Phew, we’re 75% done now, as we’ve just finished the structure!

As I’ve said earlier, paint is the second most important thing to a prop. A roughly constructed prop can have its value raised by a great paint job.

I started by using this stuff called Gesso as a primer over the entire surface of the sword. Gesso is available in many variants, but the stuff I used is called Mont Marte Black Gesso Universal Primer. Its pretty handy stuff, as it dries even in thick layers, and provides a really nice grip texture to the surface. I applied around 4-5 layers of gesso, with intermediate light sanding to knock down any imperfections and reduce the wood grain’s visibility.

Deadpool Swords v1 WIP (4)

Several layers of gesso later…

Next, I used paper masking tape and covered up the flats of the blade and in rings on the handle, before using silver acrylic powder and binder to paint the edge. Its possible to just freehand the edge’s paint, but using tape saves you a lot of effort, although the tape is valid for only one use.

Deadpool Swords v1 WIP (6)

Much Shiny, such pretty

Now we have a nice shiny completed sword! It looks very pretty and clean, but its a bit too drab, I mean, this is DEADPOOL we’re talking about.

The answer? A bucket and a half of chicken blood.

Well, not really… That’s a bit too extreme, and won’t actually give the effect we’re looking for, not to mention the ethical issues or the smell. Real blood actually doesn’t look like much like what movies or cartoons depict it. So instead, we’re going with 1 part crimson acrylic paint, and 3-4 parts water. My weapons of choice were my fingers, as you use a brush to get uniform neat strokes, but blood needs to be splattered and dabbed on. Remember to spread a large plastic sheet below your work.

Start by dabbing the edge of the sword, especially the upper parts and the tip, and work downwards. Dipping your fingers in watered paint and then flicking them against your surface is a great way to produce realistic blood splatters. Add as much blood as required, but remember to frequently examine your work and see where you might need to tone down the blood splatters. As with most processes, you’ll save a lot of effort by being careful on the first run rather than trying to fix it up.

That’s it! After all that work, we’ve completed a pair of swords! Overall this took me two weeks to complete, and I’m quite pleased with the results. I try to turn every project into a learning experience, and this was the first in which I bloodied the prop in such a manner, and I certainly learned a lot from it.

Please do let me know if you have any questions or suggestions, I’m always hanging around here. I hope this helps you, and if it does, then do bookmark/follow my blog to see more.

 

Thank you, and have a pleasant week.

Signing off,

Adithyaa~

 

Cosplay Build Log: Ezio’s Chest Plate of Altair Part 2

Hello Sunday!

So, my faithful crafts person, here is the second and final part of my build log for Ezio Auditore(Assassin’s Creed II) Chestplate of Altair. I presume you’ve already read my previous post, but if not, then please do so, it will aid you in improving your techniques.

Cosplay Build Log: Ezio’s Chest Plate of Altair Part 1

Right then, with that aside, let’s start! To any prop or armour, there are two essentials to appearance, and that is shape and surface. Shape is controlled by your carving, thermoforming, and engraving or so on. Surface is controlled by the next step, which is painting, texturing and finishing. Both surface and shape are vital to making a realistic prop, although to an extent one can cover for deficiencies in the other.

To start, I painted my chest plate with 2 coats of black acrylic paint. The surface needs to be plain black, so I didn’t bother with any special effects, and just brushed on two coats of paint. You can give it a very light fine grit sand between paint coats, to smoothen out any rough parts that arise. It would be best if you could apply primer beforehand, but I didn’t have any at the time. I later acquired some Artist’s Gesso from itsybitsy.in, which I’ve found useful to use as a primer, as its thick consistency allows it to easily fill in cracks and blemishes in your piece.

Next I painted the gold trim around each armour panel, and then went back after it dried to touch up any spots I missed. Its important to go slowly when doing freehand work, as you will spend more time fixing an error than you would have if you carefully worked the first time around. After painting has been completed to your satisfaction, you can seal & protect your paint surface with a spray can of clear coat. Using matt clear coat will typically look better than gloss for making realistic metal surfaces, unless you’re going for that particular look. I used 2 coats high gloss because the chest plate is glossy to look at, and the black reflects the light well. Remember that when using spray cans, don’t just swing the can back and forth over the pieces randomly, move from left to right, top to bottom as if you were reading, one line at a time, while holding the can at least 10cm away from the piece. Practice doing the robot, or just look at YouTube tutorials for proper spray can usage. Give the plates two days of rest to completely dry tack free.

Chestplate of Altair (5).JPG

(All the individual plates stored after the paint dried)

Now you can begin fitting your panels together. My chest plate had multiple segments for a single part, so I had made each panel separately. Start by aligning the panels, making sure they overlap correctly and then use CA glue or hot glue to hold them together. It really helps to use a little 80 grit sandpaper to remove the paint on the areas where the pieces contact each other, as this will promote adhesion. Hot glue is great for glopping over the back of each panel to reinforce each segment, whereas CA glue will form permanent bonds in small contact areas. You must know when to use which glue.

After assembling the panels, I then measured and cut my nylon straps to fit around my chest. It’s generally better to measure how much is required, and then add a few inches to each side. It can always be trimmed down, but it is a pain if your straps are too short. Make sure your straps properly align and have sufficient overlap. Now would be a good time to stitch the Velcro onto the ends of the straps, and double check that the straps properly fit onto you and can be adjusted.

Now I attached my straps to my armour with blind rivets, but you can just as easily do so with just epoxy if you don’t want anything visible from the outer side of the armour. 2 part Epoxy is reasonably easy to use and can be purchased from any hardware store. To attach my straps, I started by poking a hole in the middle of the fibers with a needle, and widening the hole in the fibers until the rivet could fit through. I inserted the rivet through the hole in the plate, placed the strap onto the rivet, and then placed a washer over it. While holding everything in alignment, use the rivet tool to draw the rivet and strongly fasten the panel, strap and washer together. It helps to either use a clip to hold the pieces in alignment, or have a friend help. After fixing the structural rivets holding the straps to the armour, I went in with a hot glue gun to further secure the straps and prevent them moving around. Frequently checking how the armour fits and sits is important, some straps may need to be redone to fit better. Next I put in the decorative rivets, which weren’t holding any straps and were just there for looks. My finishing touches were to trim the straps to the right length, and paint the faces of the rivets gold to suit the armour. Putting dabs of PVA glue like fevicol can help prevent any threads from coming undone.

(Attaching the straps to the plates)

(All straps attached, you can see that there is a pair of straps going over my shoulders, and pair of straps going under my armpits. This very firmly secures the plates to my body, but still allows movement. Notice the string in the lower left of the first picture, this is tied behind my back to prevent the front plates’ lower edges from moving too much)

After attaching all the straps, you are done! Strap the armour on, and have a friend photograph you from several angles, making sure that it fits well, looks good, and is comfortable to wear. Remember, Comic con is crowded, and generally swelteringly hot. Adjust the straps to ensure they fit well, don’t cut off circulation or scratch you in uncomfortable places, and generally align well with you. Move around in your armour, maybe go for a short jog, to see how the armour rides on your body. It may help to add additional straps or discreet strings to help support your armour. I had to add a small string to the lowest part of my front chest plate to hold it balanced on my torso, else it would flop forward.

 

That is about it for my cosplay build log for my Armour of Altair chest plate. I’m a slow worker, and I’m still striving to counter my shaky hands and improve the quality and detail of my props. I hope that this build log/tutorial helps you in making and improving your own costume, and feel free to email or message me if you have any queries.

That’s all I’ve got to say, I really hope that this will benefit as many people as possible, and help you all to improve your costumes. Let’s make India a star onto the world cosplay map!

Until later,

Signing off.

~Adithyaa

Cosplay Build Log: Ezio’s Chest Plate of Altair Part 1

Hello Sunday!

Here’s my first cosplay build log, as my documentation has been pretty lacking up until the last few months. I tend to be extremely focused when I’m working on making my projects, so I continually forget to document up to days’ worth of progress. When I do remember, I’ve already breezed through several steps, and haven’t taken enough photographs. It can be quite tedious to have to crunch through a large build log without photographs, but I’m working harder to better document and photograph my work in future. I’ve written quite a lot for this tutorial, so I’ve split it into two sections so that its easier to digest. I will upload the next section next week, so stay tuned.

Armor-altair-ac2

 

(This handsome dude’s Chestplate is what this build log is about)

This is a tutorial/build log on how to make armour, specifically Ezio’s chest plate of Altair. This can be easily applied to making any other piece of armour, from chest plates to cuirassesJ. It would be best if you can breeze through the article before beginning work on your armour, so you can properly plan it out.

Disclaimer: This particular build log involves working with sharp tools & heat, so exercise common sense when utilizing them. It isn’t my fault if you manage to set your hair/yourself/your cat on fire.

 

Materials Required-

  • PVC Foam board(3mm works well, 5mm for stronger parts)
  • Chart paper
  • Superglue/hot glue
  • Nylon/leather straps
  • Velcro
  • Blind rivets & washers(optional)
  • Primer & Paints

 

Tools Required-

  • Box cutters
  • Cutting mat(useful, but not essential)
  • Heat gun(or your mother’s stove in her absence :3)
  • Sand paper(80,100,220)
  • Drill

 

Procedure-

“We must do research!” –Jackie’s Uncle

Well said Uncle, so grab a cup of beverage and acquire as many decent reference pictures as possible. I personally prefer in game screenshots, official art and concept art, but some like to use fan art as well.

Once sufficient reference is gathered, begin making patterns. Start by drawing out the outline of the selected armour component onto chart paper, and redraw and refine the drawing until it looks exactly like the armour piece, and make sure it is to scale with your body. After that, cut it out and pin or tape it against your body to ensure that the sizing is correct. Don’t be afraid to scrap the pattern and make a new one if you aren’t satisfied with it, you’ll be saving yourself a lot of grief in the long run.

(Black KG Cardboard used for making the patterns 1:1 scale)

Once all your pattern pieces are satisfactorily finished, take your PVC foam board (colloquially referred to as “sunboard”), and place your patterns out onto it. Leaving a small cutting margin around each chart paper pattern, trace them out. For making symmetrical pieces, one can simply flip the pattern over and trace the reverse. Make sure to write each panel’s name onto the sunboard, or you might get them mixed up later on.

A note about armour materials- The material you choose for your armour really depends on what is available, what you’re making and what you feel comfortable with working with. Some skilled individuals can work wonders with even cardboard, while EVA foam is a mainstay for many others. I like working with sunboard because it has a good combination of hardness & softness, and is able to permanently hold its shape without wrinkling or distending like EVA. It can also be sanded much easier. Downsides of sunboard is that it can be scratched or broken if you treat it roughly, and that it cannot be bent or stretched too much. It is also pretty inflexible, so consider where you use it.

With all plates traced out onto your SB(sunboard), begin cutting it out using the box cutter. Make sure to keep a cutting mat or scrap wood plank below. 3mm sunboard doesn’t cut too easily on a single stroke if working with curved sections, so what I like to do for curved cuts is to extend the blade by about 2cm, hold it firmly with my right hand, and apply pressure to the back of the blade with my left thumb. I guide the blade along the pattern’s line away from me with my right hand. I find that this gives me much more control than trying to hold the cutter like a pencil or a knife. It also helps to cut a few mm outside the drawn line, so that you can later shave off the excess from the panel rather than risk cutting into the panel and ruining it.

(Some panel sections cut out & sanded)

Once you’ve cut out your panels, sand the edges smooth with progressively finer grits of sandpaper. The panels are now ready for heating and bending.

I personally use my Black & Decker 2KW heat gun, nicknamed Julius Root for the volumes of hot air it blows out, for heating my plastics, but earlier I was forced to use my mother’s kitchen stove(Don’t tell her that! J) Since the armour in this case was fitting to my body’s contours, I decided to thermoform the panels directly onto my body. This is obviously very hazardous, so take a pinch of salt and common sense while working with high heat.

I first memorized how each panel was placed and shaped, and then I covered my torso in a insulating but fitting hoodie. I wore gloves, and held each piece over the hot air blast from the gun until it became soft and pliable, then I pressed it over my body with a towel and held it there until it sufficiently cooled. The hotter it is, the more flexible it is, and any corrections to be made can be easily done by heating the part and bending it with your hands.

REMEMBER, holding hot pieces of plastic onto yourself is a pretty terrible idea, but is somewhat safe as long as you follow standard safety rules, keep cold water nearby, insulate yourself, and preferably have someone assist you in doing so. Again, I don’t need to repeat the need to use common sense or brains while doing this.

If you are using a stove, hold the pieces high over the flame, and turn the flame to a medium or low setting. MAKE SURE the plastic at no point darkens, burns or catches fire. PVC, PolyVinyChloride is a respiratory hazard when burnt, as it can release chlorine fumes. Keep the chimney/fan on, and ensure you have adequate ventilation & airflow through the room.

(All panels Thermoformed and sanded. Left image is the front chest plate, right is the back)

After ensuring that each armour panel is formed to the correct shape & fitting, give it a light sanding all over with 100 grit sand paper. If you want a smoother finish, go higher up to 220 or even 400. The higher you go and the more you sand, the smoother the end result will be. While sanding to smoothen or flatten any area, it can help to give a thin coat of primer to your prop, and then sand so that you can observe the high & low spots of your armour piece. After this, I made the holes for rivets in the chest plate. If you look at the armour’s pictures, there are little gold rivets which dot the surface, and I decided to use blind rivets to function both as the decorative rivets and to hold the plates to the straps.

Foreplanning is key here, have a friend hold the armour against you and figure out how you can get into and out of the armour, and how you will attach the straps so that you can comfortably wear the armour for several hours. Writing notes can really help. After making the holes for the rivets, you can proceed to the next step, Painting.

Whew, take a bow for getting this far down this log without losing your mind. This build log was so long I had to split it in twain, the next part will be uploaded next week at this exact time, so stay tuned. As usual, I’m here if anyone has questions, or just send me an email or FB chat. Thats all for now, so see you next week!

Signing off,

~Adithyaa