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Thread: Working with Foam

  1. #1
    Maximum Bitrate GoHybrid's Avatar
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    Working with Foam

    Okay... i've gotten enough interest from various people about this that I figured I'd post a tutorial and perhaps spur some creativity... turn on some light bulbs... etc. 56K users beware.

    Here goes: One way to make a radio/screen trim bezel for your funky-shaped dash:

    Steps 1-3:

    The foam is Renshape 5025 from www.freemansupply.com. It's hand-workable, dimensionally stable, chemical and solvent resistant. You can get it in several densities to meet certain mechanical requirements, but I generally go with 15lb because it holds a nice edge but is still easy to sand.

    The rule here is cut more than you need and work down. It's easy to cut away material, but hard to add on. I shaped a block of it to fit into the dash opening, then measured the dimensions of my screen, plus tolerance which i made to be about .125" overal side to side. It was very close up and down with the sliding screen mechanism... to within a millimeter. It took some finessing to get right. Once I got it here, i traced the edge of the dash opening onto the foam so i had a guide.
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    Et ipsa scientia potestas est.

    Worklog for my 2007 Civic Si ...f*** it...
    Pictures of the Corolla (retired)here
    Need to make something? Here are a few ideas.

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    Maximum Bitrate GoHybrid's Avatar
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    The next step is to follow those guides. Starting with about 80-grit paper wrapped around a foam-rubber sanding block for the convex portions, and around a piece of 1" PVC or other tubing for the concave portions, i get the basic shape sanded out. I go all the way up to 400 grit. This levels the surface considerably and leaves very little filling to be done before primer.
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    Et ipsa scientia potestas est.

    Worklog for my 2007 Civic Si ...f*** it...
    Pictures of the Corolla (retired)here
    Need to make something? Here are a few ideas.

  3. #3
    Maximum Bitrate GoHybrid's Avatar
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    As I'm doing this, I'm constantly checking for three things. Fit, fit, and fit. I'm finessing the curves so that my gap is uniform around the edge, I'm making sure the trim isn't standing proud of the dash opening, or sitting inside it. and above all, if you've got moving parts, i'm making sure those aren't catching. This part is very lightweight right now, so if something touches it, you'll know it.

    once the fit is good, you can finish however you like, but I'll go through the steps of painting it.

    Here is a quick view of all the products I used in finishing. These should be available at your local auto body store. Bulldog Adhesion promoter works well if you're using the foam to amend to an existing ABS piece or something that typically suffers from paint adhesion problems.

    These pics show the bezel after a coat of automotive 2K type primer. I was lazy and didn't bother here, but you can actually save yourself a tiny bit of sanding by burnishing some spackling compound into the foam before primer to fill the tiny holes in the foam. Either way, I wet sand to 600 grit before paint.
    Attached Images Attached Images     
    Et ipsa scientia potestas est.

    Worklog for my 2007 Civic Si ...f*** it...
    Pictures of the Corolla (retired)here
    Need to make something? Here are a few ideas.

  4. #4
    Maximum Bitrate GoHybrid's Avatar
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    Lastly, I spray on my basecoat and clearcoat. As I mentioned before, the foam will not melt from polyester resins, acetone, lacquer thinner... the whole mess, so you can use whatever finish you like. The most important part is filling and priming... but once you get it smooth to your liking, you can use rattle cans from the HW store if you want.

    But after it's all cured, said and done, I glue the bezel into the dash opening and voila. Professional looking trim for that funky dash that Scosche and Crutchfield don't make kits for.

    Hope this proves helpful.
    Attached Images Attached Images     
    Et ipsa scientia potestas est.

    Worklog for my 2007 Civic Si ...f*** it...
    Pictures of the Corolla (retired)here
    Need to make something? Here are a few ideas.

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    Maximum Bitrate GoHybrid's Avatar
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    In closing, let me just say that there are a million ways to skin this cat. You can laminate fiberglass or CF over thinner areas to provide reinforcement, you can glue or shape this over factory pieces so you can carve/drill out places for buttons, switches... you name it. If anyone has more questions, I'll be happy to answer.
    Et ipsa scientia potestas est.

    Worklog for my 2007 Civic Si ...f*** it...
    Pictures of the Corolla (retired)here
    Need to make something? Here are a few ideas.

  6. #6
    Maximum Bitrate TimmyM's Avatar
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    Wow that really looks like a good way to go, thanks for the info. I am a bit confused on what you did for finishing it. After it was sanded, and I'm assuming this stuff is rather easy to sand, dent, etc (looks slightly like florist foam) all you did was paint it? Wouldn't it still be easly dented etc without a coating of fiberglass or something?

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    Newbie 3D Warrior's Avatar
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    nice work thanks for posting!

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    TMF
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    ...

    Watching this thread. Very interesting!

    John

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    FLAC FC3S's Avatar
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    this good sir, is pro

    positive rep to you!

  10. #10
    Maximum Bitrate GoHybrid's Avatar
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    As far as it's workability, it can be dented, but there are things in the finish that improve that dramatically. Even using a few coats of decent urethane clearcoat improve the surface hardness enough that the usual poke of the finger or the like will not damage it. Compared to floral foam though, this stuff is like granite.

    I've also brushed on epoxy resin before and hit it with a little heat to get it to saturate the pores, then sanded smooth. That helps improve the surface too.

    here is another instance of foam with different finishes.

    feedback?

    i've done one surface flat black, laminated CF to the top of the cup, then the same primer and paint as the bezel for the knob. So you can imagine that part gets constant handling and i've had zero issues.
    Et ipsa scientia potestas est.

    Worklog for my 2007 Civic Si ...f*** it...
    Pictures of the Corolla (retired)here
    Need to make something? Here are a few ideas.

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