For many cosplayers or crafters, looking for a new challenge is always fun. One such medium people are starting to work with more is thermoplastics! According to Google, thermoplastic can be summarized fairly easily:
…denoting substances (especially synthetic resins) that become plastic on heating and harden on cooling and are able to repeat these processes.
During this past weekend’s panel on thermoplastics at Balticon, Leigh Targaryen (moderator), Marianne Pease, Jay Buechler, and Carl Paolino gave listeners a crash course in how to deal with the substance.
For starters, whenever working with thermoplastic, make sure you’re in a well-ventilated area, preferably outside. Using gloves seemed to be 50/50. Some felt they helped, while others felt they got in the way of manipulating plastic. It’s also important to keep the plastic away from pets and small children. Make sure to read which materials are in the thermoplastic — some won’t stretch and some will fall apart quickly. It’s also important to test a small piece of thermoplastic to make sure it’ll work for what you need. Also, don’t leave your plastics in extreme heat or cold — they can fall apart or melt!
Friendly Plastic is a popular brand, as well as most mesh-type plastic as they are very flexible. Worbla is another popular go-to for cosplayers. Plus, you can shape worbla with your hands, making it ideal for those of us new to thermoplastics.
As far as tools, you can use a microwave, oven, or heat gun to heat the plastic. You can use a hair dryer, but be prepared to wait a while for it to heat up. It’s also suggested to not piece thermoplastic together with hot glue — it will fall apart quickly! And lastly, save scraps. You never know when you can use them!