EVA foam is a material that has been used for decades in the manufacturing industry but only recently has 3D printers become available to home users. With these new machines becoming more readily accessible it begs the question: can you 3d print EVA foam? This post will explore how to do so, and what are some of the benefits and drawbacks of doing so.
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Can you 3d print EVA foam?
Yes. On any FDM machine (the most common type of 3D printer), you can use a material called ‘ABS’, or another similar ABS-derivative, like nylon. The “easy way” would be to buy it premade and either spray paint it in whatever color you’d like or dye it if you’re feeling adventurous (I’d recommend not using dye on an FDM printer, though).
What is EVA foam?
EVA is a type of foam that was originally used for making shoes. It’s pliable and soft, yet resilient and firm.
It has since become the standard material for craft projects like this one I’m describing here today.
What are the properties of EVA foam?
It comes in many densities, but it’s generally considered to be a pretty lightweight material.
It has no directionality to it (unlike metal springs) so you can bend it without worrying about breaking the material. Once you glue two pieces together, they’re permanent and will not separate by themselves under normal use.
Can You 3d Print Eva Foam?
Why would I want to 3d print EVA foam models?
The main reason that people 3D-print models made out of EVA foam is for cosplay props or stage decorations.
However, given how easy it is to find the raw materials these days this technique probably won’t save any money overprinting with plastic filament unless you have already purchased all your modeling tools.
What are the drawbacks of 3d printing with EVA foam?
There are a few things to consider if you’re thinking about using this method for your next prop or costume piece.
First, it will be pliable and soft when finished (not bendable like metal, though), so it’s not good for making armor pieces or anything that needs to remain rigid.
You can try adding an armature inside the model if you want it to maintain its shape but be removable at the same time; I’ll mention how to do this in another article later on down the road.
Second, because EVA foam tends to shrink slightly when drying/curing (due to this phenomenon), it’s generally not advisable to use any piece thicker than 1/2″.
Finally, if the design you’re using isn’t very complex, it’s very likely that the printer will produce holes in your model because of how thin the strands of foam are. It really helps to use a 3mm or larger nozzle for this reason alone.
How do I get started printing with EVA foam?
There are two options here- buy your materials premade, or purchase the raw materials separately and make them yourself. If you choose to buy them premade, there are lots of companies out there making it these days (just search “EVA foam” on eBay), but be aware that they might not be selling anywhere near you so shipping can get expensive pretty fast.
For example, the only place in my state that carries EVA foam sells it for $20 per 20″x30″ sheet. That’s a little bit on the pricey side, so if I wanted to start printing right away with premade materials I would probably have to pay around $5 for shipping (which is almost half the cost of one sheet) and wait at least five days before I can pick up my order (longer during holidays or weekends).
The second option is buying your raw materials separately.
This obviously gets expensive if you’re looking at square footage pricing because this stuff isn’t super cheap. The main advantage here is two-fold: first, you don’t have to worry about shipping since you’ll pick up everything locally (foam sheets are sold at craft stores, spray adhesive is available at hardware stores, etc). Second, you can buy the raw materials in bulk quantities which will save you a lot of money in the long run if you plan on making multiple props or stage pieces over time.
Can You 3d Print Eva Foam?
Where do I get EVA foam?
I know there are several online sources for this stuff besides eBay, so I’ll list one here for local availability- try Hobby Lobby.
They sell 6mm and 12mm thicknesses in 48″x96″ and 24″x48″ sizes (although it might be cheaper to buy these pre-cut), and everything else (glue sticks, spray adhesive) should be easy to find nearby as well.
If you’re in a big city with a Home Depot nearby, they carry a whole bunch of EVA foam products with a few different Thickenesses and widths to choose from.
I would recommend going with 6mm or 12mm sheets for the best experience printing- the thinner it is, the less likely you are to have any issues with holes/etc because of how thin the strands are. The adhesive backing on this stuff also helps hold it down onto your print bed better than standard filament does, so there’s less chance of your print lifting off midpoint.
How do I prepare EVA foam sheets for printing?
You need to remove the release agent that’s on top of most premade EVA foam before you can print successfully with it.
There are a few ways to do this- you can wipe it down with acetone (nail polish remover) if the release agent is low tack, or use Goo Gone if you’re having difficulty getting it off. Some people also say that baby wipes work well for removing release agents too, but I haven’t tried this myself so I’m not sure how effective they really are in comparison to the other options.
If your brand new EVA foam sheets have a shiny coating over them, there’s a good chance that your printer will produce some errors when trying to print on it right out of the package. In my experience, an hour or two of sunlight exposure helps get rid of this issue- just stick them in front of a window and let the sun do its thing.
I’m not sure what causes this to happen, but it seems like oxidation is to blame for most of these issues.
What adhesives work well with EVA foam?
You can use any type of spray adhesive that’s made to add a strong bond between two nonporous surfaces (so no 3M Super 77).
We’ve found that Krylon Fusion works great when applied manually- just spray the backside of the print head over twice, wait about 10 minutes to allow it dry, and attach it to your foam sheet using pressure from a ruler or other hard object.
It also helps if you place aluminum foil underneath your pieces while you’re spraying them with adhesive because it will make the cleanup process easier.
How do I calculate how much adhesive to use?
The rule of thumb that we follow is to put enough adhesive on the foam sheet so that you can’t see any black beneath the white primer- this ensures that you won’t have any gaps in adhesion.
Do be sure to follow the instructions for spraying distance and overlap though- it’s easy to overapply if you aren’t careful.
Can You 3d Print Eva Foam? (cre: 3dprint)
Filling 3d prints with foam filler.
The most known problem with 3d printed parts is their fragile nature, especially when they are hollow.
The walls are thin and most of the time this gives a good opportunity to save weight but also makes most 3d prints useless for some real-world applications without reinforcement. Most of the available fillers today have low mechanical properties so it is still not possible to replace common materials like injection molded or die-casted plastics without additional support structures, but there are few exceptions that can be used as a direct replacement in certain cases.
One of them is Expanded PolyStyrene (EPS) commonly known as foam filler:
Foam filler comes in various densities and has many purposes: from filling holes and gaps in case of broken parts (for example airplane windows) to making soft toys and other products, where weight is the major factor affecting their quality.
However, this material has another interesting property – it can be easily melted with a heat gun or hot water. This allows to fill 3d prints without an additional support structure or replacing any part at all!
The downside of using EPS filler is its price; it costs around 0.5-1 eur per liter depending on locality and manufacturers.
This makes this kind of repair relatively expensive even if you can reuse large chunks instead of full bottles for multiple repairs. Another downside lies in the fire hazard which is always present when manufacturing molten plastics – use precautions whenever you are filling your prints inside your apartment or workshop 🙂
The process is very simple: just put your 3d print in hot water (around 40-50 degrees celsius), leave it there for a few minutes and then remove the part.
You may need to use an old toothbrush and soap and some elbow grease, but you should be able to clean out any holes without too much trouble. Then just put the part back into hot water, pour some amount of EPS filler onto your 3d print, and wait until it cools down. This can take as long as half-hour depending on how large single chunks you are using – keep filling as needed! When everything is cooled down, your part will look like this:
I used a 4 mm white foam filler from a hardware shop with a density of 50 kg/m3, but you can also use denser expanded polypropylene (EPP) from the hobby shop. In the pictures below I filled a hole in ABS spinner with ABS filament and glued it back together using superglue to compare results.
As mentioned earlier, this method is great for things like airplane windows or decorative parts – one printer spent several days printing window shades for Airbus A320 🙂 No need for support structure whatsoever!
Can You 3d Print Eva Foam? (cre: info)
3D printed shoe material made from recycled plastic bottles
Shoes made from recycled plastics do not have a good reputation.
They are often very flimsy and can’t really be used for more than one season.
The design students Anne Gerritsen and Tessa Douwstra have come up with a new material that is much stronger, stiffer, and sturdier than standard 3D printed filament. With the help of this new material, they managed to create a pair of shoes that look like your average high heels, but feel like something you can run around in all day long.
Roughly 60% of the materials used in our daily consumer goods end up at landfills somewhere in the world, while recycling only accounts for 10% (source: Milieu Centre Delft 2012, report ‘Recycling Rates in the EU; Where do we stand?’). Although recycling rates are slowly increasing year after year, there is still a long road ahead before we can meet our current expectations of having 100% recyclable materials available.
One of the reasons for this discrepancy between what can be recycled and what actually gets recycled (and even more gets disposed of) is that it’s hard to get high-quality raw materials out of existing products. To achieve this goal, an effective segregation system has to be developed first. This is where Anne Gerritsen enters the scene…
With her newly developed material, she managed to create an upcycling process that allows consumers to turn their own waste plastic into a filament for 3D printers. Instead of having to buy new plastic, people can now simply collect waste materials and turn them into a ‘raw material’ that can be used in Stratasys 3D printers.
A lot of other upcycling concepts focus on single-use products: how to create something that is strong enough for one-time usage only?
Gerritsen’s concept works completely the opposite: it creates a sustainable solution for those items we use every day without thinking about disposal or recycling at all!
The first part of her research was focused on creating a suitable material that could be both recycled back into raw materials as well as reused in finished products.
One very important aspect of the material needed to make sure that items printed from it could be used long term. “I have been working on a material that can stand up to regular use for a while now,” Gerritsen explains, “but I only recently managed to finally print a pair of shoes with it.”
Gerritsen’s material consists of recycled ABS and PLA plastic combined with 30% plant-based bio-polyester.
The result is a very stiff filament that actually feels quite similar to regular plastics when touching or holding it in your hands. Testing the hardness of the material yourself will give you an impression of how sturdy this new 3D printing filament really is: try bending it and see whether it snaps back into its original shape or not. It may even surprise you by being able to carry more weight than you would expect.
“The filament is quite stiff, but it has a nice feel to it. It feels like ABS, but is much less brittle and not as sticky as regular ABS.” Gerritsen continues “The shoes I made are very sturdy and they show no signs of breaking down.
So far the materials seem to be able to stand up well to daily wear and tear.”
Gerritsen is currently exploring possibilities for different applications of her new material with several companies which work on 3D printing technology. The next step will be finding out whether or not this material can also be used in other follow-up projects that she’s planning on doing together with Tessa Douwstra. They hope their research will inspire people to rethink recycling and turn waste into a resource that can be reused to produce new and innovative products.
“I hope this material will help consumers think about how they dispose of their 3D printer filament,” Gerritsen concludes, “in the future, I would like to make a range of filaments from recycled plastics which can be used for different types of 3D printing projects.”
Can You 3d Print Eva Foam? (cre: 405th)
Foam core 3D printing
This article came about because I wanted to start designing and building my own props and cosplay armor.
As you’ve noticed, there’s been a pretty big resurgence in the world of science fiction and fantasy in recent years. This is evident by all the product tie-ins for your favorite movies, TV shows, and games. And if you pack up all that merchandise into something like an Ikea FÖRVAGA box (which hasn’t been out since 2010), it makes for a HUGE mess when it comes time to put everything away at the end of the convention weekend.
The only way to reduce such a massive pile down to something manageable was with a chainsaw… or maybe a bandsaw. This got me thinking about how I could possibly make an enclosure for my 3D printer that would act as a storage system; something I could break down and reassemble to reduce the amount of space it takes up.
This is what led me to design this enclosure.
It’s made out of two sheets of Medium-Density Fibreboard (MDF) and about $25 worth of screws, nuts, bolts, and corner braces.
The idea is that you can unplug your machine, pack up all the loose bits into this box/shelf unit thingy, then lay it on its side so you can start printing again when you get back from your trip. You can use whatever material you want for the interior frame pieces… I used 1/2″ thick sheets of white insulation foam because I wanted to recycle some scraps I had laying around.
The design is open-source, so feel free to do whatever you want with it.
note: the original box was designed/built before I took on this site and blog and that’s why there isn’t a detailed article for it here yet. all were based on the measurements of the Creality CR-10 which published stats say holds 215(l)X145(w)X300mm(h), but as you can see from my photos they don’t fit as well as I hoped they would (other than the parts box).
I may revisit those designs one day once I get my hands on a larger printer… stay tuned!
EVA is a rubber-like material that can be used in 3D printing. It is often found as the bottom layer of a shoe or sneaker, providing cushioning and comfort during wear.
However, it has been suggested that with advances in technology, we may soon see people being able to print out their own shoes from home using this material. If you have any more questions about how 3d printing works or want help getting started on your project contact us today!
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