Tips & Tricks Fiber Glass question

Discussion in 'Costuming and Props' started by Darthshoppingmall, Aug 11, 2005.

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  1. Darthshoppingmall Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 29, 2001
    star 1
    I am new to using fiber glass. How important is the Fiber glass paper? and how well will it take details and shapes?
  2. VillieGee Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 30, 2002
    star 3
    What on Earth would you need fiberglass paper for?
  3. Resilient Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 30, 2003
    star 2
    You would need it in order to make anything with the fiberglassing method. Fiberglass cloth/paper/matting and resin are the key components. One would need an added layer of gelcoat though if you want to capture quality details and to further strengthen the object being made.
  4. Darthshoppingmall Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 29, 2001
    star 1
    Thank you Resilient for your input.

    I searched around for tutorials and it only lists Fiberglass Fabric/paper/etc. on thier tutorials but no word o what it is used for or how to use it.

    So do I lay down some cut fabric on the prop I am laying the coat of fiber glass on, then coat it with the resin? Can't find a clear tutorial on that on that one either.
  5. Darth_Feral Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jul 17, 2005
    Consider that the fibreglassing method when used on the outsides of things will COVER their details and make finer detail work less pronounced. You can avoid this by using a mold and then putting a little fiberglass resin in the mold a few mm thick then start adding the fibermat/paper.

    Well you would first cut the fibermat/paper to the shape of your item.
    Next mix your resin, mixing directions should be on the box or can.
    It is important to measure the resin right or the peice may not "set" or take too long to set.
    Coat the peice with the resin where you want it to be stonger.
    Place the fibremat over the resin.
    Coat the top of the fibermat with more resin.

    Notes:
    Use plenty of ventilation and protective materials, fiberglassing is very nasty.
    The resin gets VERY hot.
    Some resins set better in the light.
    You can use stiffer items on the piece in the resin or added to the fibermat (like aluminum mesh) just dont forget to get it well coated in the resin.
    You can use the resin by itself but the fibre mat is the real reason you want to fiberglass, for strength. If you are just using the resin, there are cheaper alternatives that are specifically for those purposes.
  6. LATOPADEYOR Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 20, 2005
    star 2
    Exactly, don't use the fiberglass putty, it isn't as good as doing it the right way.... if you already have a mold and you're just planning on laying the matte overtop, and fiberglassing over the shape you already have and you don't need to remove the mold after...just make sure the surface is clean and dry...very important... soak the fiberglass cloth in the resin and lay it over the mold... let it dry... afterward, take some glazing putty and put a thin coat over the fiberglass so that you have a nice smooth surface afterward and so that you don't see all the fiberglass threads... Don't glop all the putty on or you'll have a harder job later just having to sand it all off... then once that's dry, give it a sanding....don't use too coarse a paper, but the grit that you use to start off with all depends on how well you glazed it with the putty. Than move on to the wet sanding with a very fine grit wet sandpaper (making sure that the paper is kept wet, and if you want to use soapy water, that's good too as it will clean the surface while you're sanding it)...once that's done, prime it and paint it, and BOB's your uncle...you're done.

    Of course, this is assuming you're doing a basic shape, and not fiberglassing over small details.
  7. Darthshoppingmall Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 29, 2001
    star 1
    I am actually working on a pilot helmet. There are some fine details on it. It is very simular to the Pilot helmet in Robotech Macross Saga. Would it be fine to coat the inside of the helmet using the Fiber glass fabric and resin. and on the surface with the details coated with just the resin?
  8. Svoor Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Aug 5, 2004
    star 1
    Wrong. Bondo has a fiberglass product, (I believe for patching holes in boats and the like.), and on the can it tells you to cut the fiberglass cloth into squares, roughly the size of your hand, (I forget the exact measurements.) Generall this type of product is to touch up things, like strengthening the inside of helmets and such.

    Anyway. The canister comes with the hardener. You mix the two together, brush some of the fiberglass liquid onto the item in question, apply the cloth, then brush on another layer to smooth out the cloth. It's really easy to do.


    I don't know about coating the outside with resin. The might hurt things rather then make them better. But doing the inside should be no problem. :)
  9. VillieGee Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 30, 2002
    star 3
    Fiberglass paper and fiberglass cloth are NOT the same thing. Fiberglass paper is what they use in heating vents and hepa filters and stuff. Fiberglass cloth and matts are used when making fiberglass castings.
  10. VillieGee Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 30, 2002
    star 3
    Hold on, guys. I don't think any of you are talking about the same thing.

    Darthshoppingmall:

    First of all, you have to tell us if you're going to be making a casting of the helmet from a negative mold, or if you are laminating an existing helmet. Everyone's talking about different ways to do different things and I think you're getting the wrong tips here.

    Also, the warnings DarthFeral mentioned aren't strong enough. "Plenty of ventilation" is VERY inadequate for fiberglass. You NEED a respirator. Polyester resin fumes can cause serious illnesses. Being outside isn't enough. Also, if resin comes in contact with your skin, it enters your pores and makes its way to your liver, where it stays forever. The MEK peroxide used as a catalyst for polyester resins is EXTREMELY dangerous. Any contact with skin will cause chemical burns, and if you splash it in your eyes, your eyes will dissolve.

    Also, adding aluminum to fiberglass will just add weight without adding strength.

    The tips mentioned so far are very odd, to say the least. Fiberglass castings that come from a glass-smooth mold will have the same glass-smooth surface. You won't need to sand at all. And it's the glass that makes it stronger, not the resin. It's also recommended to do an impression coat before laying down any fiberglass cloth. I don't even think the people so far are even talking about the same things.
  11. Resilient Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 30, 2003
    star 2
    Not the same thing no, but fiberglass cloth is refered to with several different terms so, since he's new to the whole process as he mentioned, it can be assumed that the cloth is what he was refering to. And since he hasn't refuted that when people have mentioned cloth/matting and the like, that's probably the case. Eitherway, your initial comment could have been more helpful to him learning the details if you had mentioned the above info about fiberglass paper to him at that time. ;p As would it have been helpful to him if you had given the info you seem to know in the first place rather than waiting for others to try and help and /then/ coming in and basically saying that their posts are irrelivant.
  12. Darthshoppingmall Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 29, 2001
    star 1
    I am creating a replica of the pilot helmet from Robotech. I found this site here http://halo.bungie.org/misc/cb_mcsuit.html?tutpage=2 and I like what I saw. But he wasn't too clear on how to use the fiber glass fabric.

    Basically his method used mat board to create what he wanted. Then he layered Fiberglass on top of that. But he doesn't go into detail how he used the fabric, just mentions it in passing. I know that the inner part of the costume used fiberglass and the fiber glass fabric, and I am not sure if the outter part with all the details used the fabric at all.

    I have replica is matboard form at the moment, now I am ready to apply the Fiber glass. Now I don't want to mess it up after all the work I did.

    If you check out the site, you'll see what I am trying to accomplish. Juct hit the tutorial link and see for yourself.
  13. VillieGee Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 30, 2002
    star 3
    All he said was "how important is the paper?" and I didn't know what he was talking about. How am I to assume he wanted to make a casting of a helmet from just that information? I also asked the question about paper, then all those other posts came up, then I come back and there's all kinds of confusion. Fiberglass can be used a million different ways, so asking a question like "how important is the paper" is extremely hard to answer without clarification. I'm not trying to be a jerk or anything, I just needed clarification, and then I come back and there's tons of posts. :_|

    Ok, so now that I said that, and now that I know exactly what you're doing, lemme write up a little thing about fiberglass for you. I'll just post this so I can take my time on the next post.
  14. VillieGee Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 30, 2002
    star 3
    Ok, it looks like he's using the fiberglass to make the easy-to-use mattboard into a rock-hard, seamless piece of armor. He's putting lots of fiberglass on the inside for strength, and putting a thin layer on the front to cover up the paper mattboard and to make it seamless.

    Ok, before I give you some tips for fiberglass, let me reiterate: These chemicals are H-A-R-D-C-O-R-E. You MUST have a respirator and gloves (and eye protection's a good idea too). No question. The MEK peroxide is also extremely caustic. I'm not trying to scare you, but this is something you have to be careful with. Do not touch any of the chemicals.

    Ok. So using fiberglass is pretty much just like doing papier mache, only instead of old newspapers, you're using a fabric spun from glass, and instead of glue, you're using resin. So to do this, you need fiberglass resin (usually a polyester resin) and the appropriate catalyst (usually MEK peroxide), and fiberglass cloth. Yes, it's real glass.

    So what you do is cut up some strips of fiberglass (like maybe 2" x 4" strips. It doesn't have to be exact) ahead of time, then mix up small batches of "hot" resin (meaning the appropriate amount of catalyst has been added to start the chemical reaction) and paint resin onto the surface of your mattboard, and lay the strips of cloth into the resin and paint more resin on top. You're trying to soak the fibers completely with resin. Pools of resin will just add weight without adding strength, so try to not leave any puddles of resin. Everything should be soaked into fiberglass. It's not a huge deal, but it's cleaner when you don't have puddles. Anyway. Do small batches of resin at a time, because as soon as you mix in the catalyst, the clock starts ticking before it starts to harden. So if your batch hardens before you used it all, it's wasted. It's much more frugal to mix smaller batches that you know you can use up before it's hardened, than to mix a huge batch and waste most of it.

    Criss-cross your layers to maximize the strength. Two layers (front and back) will be plenty, but adding more layers WILL add strength. But how strong do you need it to be? Oh, and acetone is pretty much the only thing you can use to clean up if you made a mess. Clean your brushes, gloves, table, whatever with it. Once the resin cures completely, however, nothing will get it off.

    When you're done, you'll need to sand the whole thing, cuz it'll be bumpy. If you're going to sand the fiberglass itself, put your respirator back on. You do NOT want microscopic glass particles in your lungs. If you breathe them in, they'll never leave and they'll be there for the rest of your life. Your other option is something like Bondo. It's a putty you can cover it with and sand that smooth.

    So there ya go. If you've got questions or need clarification, ask away. Hope this helps!
  15. Darthshoppingmall Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 29, 2001
    star 1
    thank VillieGee, thats really helpful. Just to make sure I got it down right, I'll reinterate what I learned.

    Well Ventation! CHECK! Respirator! CHECK! Fiber Glass and Hardener! CHECK! Gloves! CHECK! That the FORCE is with me... Remains to be varified.

    Anyway!

    Cut the fabric into small workable pieces. Get the fiber glass resin ready to go. Then use the paper mache method to apply the fiber glass. Using a criss-cross pattern I apply the strips to the mat board model in this case I'll do the inside of the helmet for strength. Do 1 to 2 layes as needed. Let dry.

    Then Do the same on the outter layer. 1 thin layer. Let dry.

    Sand, prime, paint.

    Hope the FORCE is with me.


    Does that pretty much cover it?
  16. Resilient Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 30, 2003
    star 2
    Another thing that should be pointed out is that, when you're applying the layer of resin to the cloth, you should watch out for air bubbles that might form as the resin soaks into the cloth. Make sure you get rid of the bubbles that might form with your brush because if the fiberglass is allowed to harden with them present it can weaken the structure. That might not be as big a concern for your project since there's a layer of matboard present in that method you plan on using, but for something pure fiberglass it could pose a problem.
  17. VillieGee Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 30, 2002
    star 3
    That's a good point, Resilient. Air bubbles will make it weaker at that point. It'll be more important on the surface, because if you sand into an air bubble, it's now a hole in your new helmet!. Inside it won't matter so much, but generally air bubbles are bad.

    But yeah, you got it, Darth. That's pretty much it. But because I'm anal-retentive, the resin isn't really "drying," it's "curing." It's a chemical reaction, and not a matter of any evaporation of a liquid. But I know what you meant. [face_laugh]

    Remember to be uber-careful, protect yourself, and avoid air bubbles and pools of resin. Good luck!
  18. electrakitty Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 27, 2005
    star 2
    Villie Gee-
    I've never done any fiberglassing, and I don't know that I will (I don't know that I won't either), but my question for you is, what kind of respirator cartridges are appropriate for fiberglassing?
  19. Darthshoppingmall Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 29, 2001
    star 1
    Just a few follow up questions, just cause I like to know things.

    1) I was at the local Home Depot and picked up the Fiber Glass Fabric, big and clear on the package. Then I think, cool, got everything I need, then I look up and next to it, same brand,pictures, and description was "Fiberglass Cloth". And thought, "Dang Nabbit" (Translated from an explicitive) They looked the same, the fabric/cloth seemed to have the same texutre and consistancy. So what the difference?

    2) Can you tell me more of the Fiber glass putty and what is it used for?

    3) And finally, if the cylons from the new Battlestar Galatica series got in a fight with the droid army from SW, assuming they cylons were just the tin can machine gun toting units, and the droid army had a good balance of super and standard driod units, and also assuming that in this grudgematch there were 1000 on each side, who would come out the victor?

    I needed to round thigns off with a 3rd question, best I can come up with.

    Darth Shopping Mall
  20. VillieGee Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 30, 2002
    star 3
    Darth:

    Honestly, I couldn't tell you the difference between fiberglass fabric and fiberglass cloth. All my books call it cloth though. The fiberglass putty is a finishing putty. It's used to fill cracks and holes when you're done.

    electrakitty:

    There's two kinds of cartriges: particle and fume. You'd need the fume cartriges. It's also important that it fits snug on your face. You're lucky you're not a guy, cuz facial hair ruins the seal on your face. My sculpture professor, who had a beard his entire adult life, bought a full-face respirator so he wouldn't have to shave his beloved beard. Btw, if you can smell the resin when it's on, it's not working.
  21. Darth_Feral Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jul 17, 2005
    Um I think that the NEW Cylons would win as their processing power comes from internal AI reather than a control ship. Also in the new series the cylons have infiltration programming that allows them to take over other machines and even ppls minds.

    But anywho, really on the packaging for the fiberglass you will see some method of cutting described as doing certain sizes, yes that would be true for those size projects. For large flat and low detail stuff you CAN cut the fabric to the size of the project, but keep in mind that the laws of physics do apply and you may need to cut certain shapes to get curves and bends.

    For the more detailed there is 2 things you can do: Glaze or REinforce.
    Glazing is also called laminating ind basically you would use a resin material to "seal" or glaze the peice, some protection and rgidiness is added to the peice but not nearly as much as using fiber. Remember to sand and paint of course.

    Reinforcing uses mat, cloth or imbedded particles to add strength to the peice.

    NOW
    With fiberglass we are talking about 2 diff. type of 'glassing.
    The type that is referred here is mainly thy "small" repair type work and not something you would make a boat hull out of. This fiberglass material is usually a resin combined with a fiber mat or cloth. The diff between a mat an cloth is that the mat is usually thicker and comes apart easily while the cloth is woven and thinner. In this method both the cloth and mat are actually made of nylon fiber. And the resin is also a type of nylon. Now nylon has many diff forms and this is the more "industrial" form of nylon.

    The OTHER and mainstram fiberglass method also uses resins, but uses real glass fibers for its reinforcement. For cotuming purpose i dont think that real glass fiber is neccesary at all and is nastier to work with than the previous stuff.

    The stuff I normally get is in the automotive section of walmart and is made by the bondo company which also makes other resin/repair products and is simply a can of resin and hardener (usually sold together) and the mat or cloth. All these items are usually labeled with fiberglass in their name.

    As far as putty goes that is usually used as a filler, and is thicker and denser than the resin and usually easier to mix, however it needs more work to make it look good.

    And why do i know this, I have used nylon type fiberglassing to seal and reinforce plaster sculptures that I make.

  22. VillieGee Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 30, 2002
    star 3
    I think we covered the important stuff already.
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