When considering materials for 3D stage prop production, foam is increasingly becoming the number one choice. Here’s why:
1) Foam is Cheap
Compared to materials like metal and wood, expanded polyurethane foams (EPS) are much more economical. Available in a range of densities and block sizes, it is easy to select the right piece of foam for a prop. Unlike most other materials, EPS foam blocks come in large enough sizes that big 3D props can often be carved out of a single block with some foam to spare. Because you can select a desired density you also can avoid using foam that is stronger than the prop requires, a feature that saves you money since the price of EPS foam rises with the density.
2) Foam is Light
When comparing foam to other materials like metal and wood, foam is also much lighter. This light weight is extremely useful when it comes to the maneuverability of stage props. Whether it is changing scenes or dealing with the set up/break down of touring productions less weight means less hassle. Lower weights also mean fewer restrictions in set design, because 3D foam props can be placed anywhere on or above the stage with little difficulty.
3) Foam is Durable
Despite what you might think from its low price point and light weight, EPS foam is extremely durable. The secret is in the protective coating which is applied to any foam prop prior to its final finishing. This coating, which is sprayed on the carved foam, forms an indestructible protective barrier. The better the coating, the longer the shelf life of the prop. Durability further contributes to the economical nature of 3D foam props, because it means that props do not need to be replaced on a regular basis, that they are rarely damaged and that they travel well.
4) Foam holds Detail
In addition to these practical benefits, another major reason for the rising popularity of foam props is that foam allows for the production of high-quality pieces of art. If used correctly foam can be carved into truly stunning props. Foam can hold fine detail (right down to surface texture) and has proven to be an excellent medium for challenging organic shapes. Therefore, not only is foam the best choice from an economic standpoint, it also is the best choice from a design perspective.
5) Foam works on a 3D CNC Foam Carving System
It is here where all the benefits of using foam for 3D stage props converge. 3D CNC foam carving systems automate prop production. That is to say, 3D props are carved on a 3D CNC router. The automation of this production process means that foam props are produced with computer guided precision. No errors, no problems, no mistakes, just a perfect prop every time. Because of this reduction in labor costs and fabrication time, foam props are even more economical when produced in this fashion. In addition to this, the software associated with CNC foam carving technology allows for digital prop planning- where the computer will maximize the efficient use of a foam block to limit waste, or where large props can be designed in easy to assemble/disassemble sections, or where digital props can be scaled, reshaped or otherwise altered prior to production.
So, at the end of the day, foam is inexpensive, lightweight, practically indestructible, results in high quality art and works in tandem with a CNC foam carving system to maximize production efficiencies and ensure flawless 3D props exactly as desired. It’s clear to see why 3D foam props are taking center stage!