Introduction: Creating Armor With Worbla

Worbla's Finest is a material that is hitting the world by storm! Easily manipulated, heat activated and as hard as plastic when cool - there is little else in this world that meets its usability. For this project, I will discuss creating the shoulder armor from the Diablo 3 Demon Hunter build I completed this past spring.

Here are the tools/materials you will need:

- A strong pair of shears (I use titanium)

- An Exacto blade

- 2mm EVA Foam

- 1 medium to large sheet of Worbla (purchase here: www.cosplaysupplies.com)

- Poster Board

- A marker

- A heat gun (or the ability to heat the Worbla - I hear warm water works as well)

- Paint brushes and Paint

- Mod Podge Clear Sealant

- A Pencil

Step 1: Step 1: Getting Your Patterns Right

Everything starts with a pattern; whether you draw it yourself or use a program like Pepakura, a pattern is necessary to ensure consistency (especially with symmetrical pieces). Start off by drawing or tracing your pattern onto a piece of poster board. Cut out the pattern and tape or pin it together. How does it look? Is it the right size? You want to make sure you have the dimensions correct before you cut out the foam.

With the dimensions adjusted, take your new pattern and trace it onto your 2mm EVA foam (aka craft foam). Once your foam is cut out repeat the "testing" steps. Make sure it looks right and fits well. Now that you are positive about the fit trace your pattern onto your Worbla sheet (make sure the Worbla pattern is a little bigger than your foam pattern) twice. Why twice? Well, I use the sandwich method which means for every one piece of foam you need two pieces of Worbla.

If you don't have the funds for this method you are welcome to cut out one piece of Worbla a bit bigger than your pattern and simply fold over the edges when you get to the building phase (which is discussed in the next step).Foam

Step 2: Step 2: Getting Hot With Worbla

Worbla is a thermoplastic: what does that mean? Simple: it becomes soft/malleable when heat is applied to it. In it's heated state, Worbla can be manipulated as easily as clay (just be careful, it can burn you). Take your heat gun and a piece of Worbla - evenly distribute the heat on the lowest setting until the Worbla is bendable. Now take your foam and place it atop the heated piece of Worbla; then place the second piece (for those only doing one piece now is the time to start folding the Worbla over the foam gently) atop the foam.

Once you have made a "sandwich" apply heat with your heat gun until the Worbla settles nicely over the foam. NOTE: DO NOT APPLY HEAT TOO CLOSE TO THE WORBLA AS IT WILL BURN. Not only will it burn it becomes so hot that it can fuse with anything close by so be extremely careful and take your time.

Let your Worbla and foam settle for 5 minutes before bending to a shape you like. Once you have completed one section "rinse and repeat". If you make a mistake don't worry! Worbla is easy to fix. You may get air bubbles; if so, heat the entire section, cut open the side until the foam is exposed and use a flat object to push the air out. With the air gone, heat the cut section and seal it up! Good as new :)

Step 3: Step 3: Details N'Paint

With your base piece built it's time for detail! I used nylon rope and rolled hot Worbla over it then applied the rope to the edges of my piece. As Worbla is tacky, you can adhere it to itself and other pieces rather easily. No glue, little mess. Use scraps of Worbla and mush them together, roll them out, sculpt a happy little skull - whatever you can imagine you can create!

For priming Worbla here are a few suggestions: Plasti-Dip (2 thin coats), Mod Podge (4-5 coats), watered down Wood Glue (as many coats as it takes - be sure to sand afterwards) or a heavy duty Spray Paint Primer/Filler. There really isn't a right way - it just depends on how you want your armor to look.

I use a mixture of Spray Paint Primer/Filler, Spray Paint color and Acrylic paints. Don't be afraid to explore - starter kits or sample materials are great for your first armor set. You can always correct mistakes later with a more permanent/preferred style/solution.

Step 4: Step 4: Seal It and Wear It!

Armor will suffer wear and tear. To help it keep its luster give it two coats of a clear, acrylic sealant. I use Mod Podge Matte Finish but there are a number of finishes out there.

And you're done! Wear that armor with pride; you accomplished your goal!

Good luck!

Comments

author
neo71665 made it!(author)2014-08-23

First let me say the armor turned out nice.

How different is it from abs? I vacuum form and can't really see much advantage unless its way cheaper by the sheet (haven't checked yet).

author
Ninja.Monkey.In.The.Machine made it!(author)2014-08-23

Thank you! Abs are actually pretty easy. I have never used vacuum forming but I am familiar with it's process. For Worbla, all you would need to do is create a base layer of armor that is the length of your torso then cut out ab size squares from foam. Position the squares so they match your abdominal length/location and then lay another long sheet (just one) of heated Worbla on top. You should end up with something like what Folkenstal Armory created in the attached image. (NOTE: This is a VERY rigid product when set, it will restrict your movement so test out how low you want to go with it first).

ebony_armor___wip_3b_by_folkenstal-d70yytg.jpg
author
deadmanone made it!(author)2014-08-26

I think he meant how it compared to using ABS plastic, not how to do lower torso armor. Basically, how does it compare to other heat forming plastics?

author
Ninja.Monkey.In.The.Machine made it!(author)2014-08-26

Oh! And the best thing about Worbla - it provides it's own adhesion so sticking parts together gets a whole lot simpler.

author
Ninja.Monkey.In.The.Machine made it!(author)2014-08-26

Ah. That makes sense. Sorry about that, lol. Let's see...it is a bit more flexible than vacuum formed plastic, it is about as tough as WonderFlex and a lot easier to manipulate. With other thermo-forming plastic you have to keep the heat applied consistently and manipulation can be difficult without the assistance of another, a mannequin or clamping tools. Worbla heats up quick but it remains malleable longer than other plastics. It's also less of a mess and if you make a mistake you can reheat, separate pieces, flatten and then reform them rather easily.

author
neo71665 made it!(author)2014-08-23

Its interesting but I don't do much cosplay stuff. Everything that makes this ideal for your applications makes it the exact opposite for mine. Always nice to learn about new products.

author
Ninja.Monkey.In.The.Machine made it!(author)2014-08-23

As far as cost, here is the general price sheet for Worbla from CosplaySupplies:

-Jumbo (Size 100cm x 150cm (39.25" wide x 59" long): $80.00 (free shipping, no tax)

- Large (Size 75cm x 100cm (29.5" by 39"): $55.00 (free shipping, no tax)

- Medium (Size 75cm x 50cm (29.5" by 19.5"): $34.00 (free shipping, no tax)

-Small (Size 37cm x 50cm (14.5" by 19.5"): $26.00 (free shipping, no tax)

author
Wolfbane221 made it!(author)2014-08-23

Cool, now maybe make the Akkhan set for my shotty cader? ;) I can't wait until 2.1!

author
Ninja.Monkey.In.The.Machine made it!(author)2014-08-23

Good luck with that! Worbla is alot of trial and error but errors are very easy to fix :)

author
MsSweetSatisfaction made it!(author)2014-08-23

The armor is so cool looking! Thanks for explaining how to use worbla it's definitely intimidating for a beginner.

author
Ninja.Monkey.In.The.Machine made it!(author)2014-08-23

Thank you very much! It can be intimidating but don't give up! It's very much worth it in the end.

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Bio: Cosplay enthusiast, illustrator, costume designer/creator, Worbla novice, IT nerd and all around excitably geeky chick!
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