What is the Best Foam for Cosplay and Costumes?
Are you getting into cosplaying for the first time? Congratulations! This is a beautiful, sometimes frustrating, but rewarding hobby (or job!) that has delighted and challenged artists of all kinds for many years. However, as a newcomer to cosplay, there’s no shame in admitting that knowing where to start can be overwhelming. What is the best foam for cosplay? How thick should it be? What’s the best high-density foam? What is it used for? Is craft foam the same as cosplay foam?
And those might be just a few of the questions you may have. While there are no hard or set rules—as many cosplayers tend to use what feels right to them, we do know a few things about foam to get you started on the path! If you’re interested in foam for cosplay, here are a few of our guidelines that hopefully will give you a great starting point to start your journey into creating your first cosplay!
What Foam is Used In Cosplay?
When you hear cosplayers speak on the kinds of foam they use in cosplay, you’ll learn a few terms. You’ll hear names like EVA Foam, Ethylene-vinyl acetate, Volara Type 4EO, Minicel, plastazote, or craft foam.
EVA Foam, Ethylene-vinyl acetate, and Craft Foam
While the three names differ, all of these foams are made from ethylene-vinyl acetate and are sometimes even called poly. Ethylene-vinyl acetate is a copolymer. In polymer chemistry, a copolymer is a polymer derived from more than one species of monomer (a molecule that can react together with other monomer molecules to form a larger polymer chain or three-dimensional network in a process called polymerization.)
EVA is an elastomeric polymer that creates a material that is rubber-like in softness as well as flexibility. EVA has good clarity and gloss, low-temperature toughness, and stress-crack resistance. It also presents hot-melt adhesive waterproof properties while being resistant to UV radiation.
EVA is the go-to choice of foam when working with a cosplay costume. EVA is dense and rugged foam with a smooth surface and compact material, without cells or air bubbles. It’s also a favorite to work with because it can be available in almost every thickness, density, and color.
Plastazote foam is a closed-cell polyethylene foam that has been blown with nitrogen. Polyethylene foam is like plastic, resistant to moisture and chemicals, and is an excellent material for vibration dampening along with cosplay. Plastazote is also durable and flexible, and the closed cells filled with nitrogen ensure if the foam is crushed, it springs back to its original shape quickly.
Plastazote form, being much thinner and semi-transparent, is excellent for making cosplay props that are illuminated, as it appears as a white foam that easily lets LED lights shine through. When using plastazote, however, since it is so very lightweight, it can’t truly be treated as EVA foam or craft foam. Cosplayers caution other beginners to only use this type of foam for armors or props that need illumination while reinforcing a costume or proper with different types of thicker, hardier foams.
The Best Foam For Cosplay
Amateurs and seasoned cosplayers will undoubtedly tell you that EVA foam is the best foam for cosplay. It is high-density foam and as sturdy as other polyethylene foams, only more flexible. EVA has a smooth surface; the foam is compact without cells or air bubbles and is a favorite to work with around the cosplay community due to the wide range of densities, colors, and thicknesses.
Cosplay craft foam, or craft foam, is the same as EVA foam, only it’s sold in much thinner densities and tends to be even more flexible. It’s generally chosen to be used for fine details instead of a base.
Another reason why cosplayers tend to always turn to EVA (or Minicel foam) is because of its lack of bubbles (or closed cells.) Closed-cell EVA foam makes it much easier for cosplayers to sand, Dremel, cut, laser cut, paint and surface the foam.
What else is EVA Foam used for?
You might be surprised to know that you may already be using EVA foam for other purposes in your daily life. EVA foam is also used in or to make:
• Hot melt adhesives (Like glue sticks.)
• Soccer cleats
• Biomedical engineering applications such as drug delivery devices.
• Padding for various sports equipment.
• Fishing rods and fish reel handles.
• Shock absorbers in sport’s shoes
• Floats and commercial fishing gear.
• Packing, textile, bookbinding or bonding plastic films.
• Flip-flops or foam clogs.
• Yoga mats or foam floor mats.
What is the Best EVA Foam Thickness for Cosplay?
Since the variables behind what makes the best thickness for your cosplay depends on what you want to create, it isn’t easy to pinpoint. Probably the best means of deciding what thickness you need is to consider asking yourself these questions:
• What effect do I want my foam armor/costume to have?
• Am I creating something thick and imposing, like a full suit of metal armor, or something thin and delicate—like leaves?
• Do I want or need my pieces to have several layers of thickness?
The available sizes you’ll find for EVA foam can start at ¼” and go up to 4″ thick. As a general guideline, you’ll want to use thicker pieces for cosplay bases, medium thickness for depth, and thin to thinnest cosplay EVA or craft foam for creating details.
Is EVA Foam Safe to Work With?
While it is true that EVA foam has a very distinctive, often strong scent, we’re delighted to inform you that there’s no evidence of any health concerns from heating EVA foam for cosplaying. However, like anything when working with crafting materials and adhesives and glues, it is always recommended to use good ventilation and a protective mask at all times.
We hope that we at Foam Factory have been able to help your start your excellent path toward cosplay by helping you choose the best foam. If you’re ready to order your first pieces of the industry’s best, most affordable pieces of cosplay foam, we’ve got you! Check out our selection of Minicel L200, Minicel T200, Minicel T300, and Minicel T380 today and get crafting!