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Makin Signs from Foam

Re: Makin Signs from Foam

Postby keith » Wed May 12, 2010 6:12 am

Thanks to everyone who have been posting their information and comments onto this post; it is great to get this kind of support. One problem I am faced with is that being over here in the UK I do have a lot of trouble finding the materials which I seem to be able to locate in the USA or Canada. However this will not stop me.

Brian I am interested how you managed method 2 in CamBam if you would like to share.

I have seen most of the foams available in Home Depot etc during trips back to Canada from time to time and they are starting to get this sort of thing over here in the UK. Perhaps it has always been here but I have not been able to find it.

graph4sure I have looked at your site; http://www.bogleysigns.com/, and I am very interested in your comment that I could use MDF provided I sealed it with a 2-part epoxy; have you ever tried this? I know that it should work fine however I was wondering if you had tried it.
I have just researched on the 'net what MDO stands for and I don't think that it is a vailable in the UK. BUT as I understand it the outer layer of MDO plywood is in fact MDF you suggestion should work fine shouldn't it?

One thing we got lots of here in the UK is MDF.

Thanks again for all the suggestions and information everyone!
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Re: Makin Signs from Foam

Postby Awesomeness » Wed May 12, 2010 6:29 am

MDO's outer layer is MDF, but it's MDF made with waterproof glue. True MDF is not in any way waterproof, and is in fact a water magnet and is quickly ruined by moisture. MDF is basically dense cardboard.
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Re: Makin Signs from Foam

Postby keith » Wed May 12, 2010 10:08 am

Yeah I know Guido; but what I was thinking was that if I build a sign from MDF and then used a 2-part epoxy like a boatbuilding resin then it "should" be sealed from the outside moisture. Or don't you think that would work. MDF is everywhere here in the UK and it is not too bad cost wise it is just so messy with carcinogenic dust when working it. Some of the foams I have not been able to find over here and the other materials I have found are way tooooo costly in the UK.
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Re: Makin Signs from Foam

Postby Awesomeness » Wed May 12, 2010 4:36 pm

I don't know about the UK, but in the US most of the MDF is no longer toxic. Most of what I've bought has stickers on it talking saying so. You might want to ask about that. And the vacuum does a good job of taking the airborne dust away.

"Boat builder's epoxy" (polyurethane or epoxy fiberglassing resin) is very brittle, like eggshells, without fiberglass mat in it. You would be better using a 2-part epoxy paint, like what they make for garage floors or primers.

Personally I still wouldn't try it. MDF is just too easily ruined by moisture. One tiny edge with thin paint, or an accidental nick, and moisture will get in, and the whole thing will soak up watter and swell which will break it out of it's paint shell more.

What do you guys in the UK use for insulation if you can't find the typical foams we have?
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Re: Makin Signs from Foam

Postby keith » Wed May 12, 2010 7:24 pm

Thanks Guido you are probably right. I have bought quite a few sheets of MDF and I did not notice any stickers saying that it was safe..... I think I will pop into the UK Homedepot clone called B&Q and take a look.

It is just like Homedepot they evenn use the bright orange colour scheme. There are a number of foams available in the "REAL" builders suppliers so I will have a look around and see what is available. I will also look for a 2 part epoxy paint and see what is around.

Most of the foam I saw last time I looked was plain polysterne like they use to package tv's and such. Rub it and it disolves into little balls full of static. I will have to take a look and see what is being used now
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Re: Makin Signs from Foam

Postby servant74 » Wed Jun 01, 2011 2:02 pm

If you are still looking, go schmooze a local professional sign maker. See what they use and how they use it. Often they are willing to show interested 'newbies' if you ask intelligent questions and listen intently.

Once done, see if you can get some 'cutoffs' to play with, or even purchase materials from them. You may also find out where they get their supplies. Just don't go in and say 'I want to compete with you' ... generates bad karma quickly :(
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Re: Makin Signs from Foam

Postby Awesomeness » Sat Jun 04, 2011 3:52 am

The foams professional sign makers use is great, but you won't like the price. It costs $300-1200 per 4'x8' sheet, depending on density and thickness.

MDO is commonly called "signmaker's board", and is good for exactly that. It costs about $60 for a 4'x8'x3/4" sheet. It's probably the most economical of the "pro" materials.
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Re: Makin Signs from Foam

Postby keith » Sat Jun 04, 2011 8:37 am

Your not wrong Awesomeness! I just got the prices from the UK supplier and I my heart almost skipped a beat! It is unbelieveable that they charge so much.

I have heard that the Expanded Foam builders squirt out of can is somewhat suitable for cncing purposes. Does anyone know if this might be true? It would not be too hard to build a mold and then purchase the foam from industrial suppliers so that it is not in squirty cans but in 2 seperate bottles. That way you could make only what you wanted when you wanted. Any ideas anyone?
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Re: Makin Signs from Foam

Postby Awesomeness » Sat Jun 04, 2011 3:50 pm

Foam-in-a-can is fairly low density. The blue or pink foam board that you can buy in hardware stores for insulating walls is about 1.30 lb/ft^3, and I'd guess canned foam is about the same or less.

I just finished cutting about 150 ft^3 of blue foam board into giant 3D terrain map. It CNC's ok. The softer the material, the more you have to be careful on really thin parts because it can't hold itself together against the cutting forces.
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Re: Makin Signs from Foam

Postby suprunai » Tue Mar 13, 2012 11:38 am

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