Making Large Scale Props

Some Practicalities

June 25th, 2015

When it comes to the production of large-scale props using 3D CNC foam carving equipment there are a few practicalities to consider that will make all the difference to the final project. Taking these considerations into account during the planning stage of production will prevent numerous frustrations later on.

Is the prop intended for indoor or outdoor use? Make sure that you know where a prop is going to be used so that you can select your materials accordingly. Outdoor props will need to be able to withstand environmental factors (temperature, wind, moisture) without breaking down. This might necessitate denser foam, a stronger protective coating or sturdier structural support. It is also important to consider transportation and installation requirements. How portable is the prop? How will its size and weight impact its usability?

How durable does the prop need to be? Is it intended for a single use or is it going to be used multiple times? As with environmental factors, durability requirements will play a role in the choice of materials. Props that are going into a rental fleet or that are going to be used for several years will need stronger materials, such as a pure polyurethane coating, when compared to props that need to last for a single event.

How interactive is the prop? Are people going to be able to touch it? Climb on it? Examine it close up? These considerations can have a major impact on the finishing work a prop requires. As a general rule, the more interactive the prop the better the finishing works needs to be, because people will notice fine detail. Conversely, if the prop is not interactive and will remain a small distance away from the crowd the finishing work can be substantially reduced.

Identifying these basic factors during the planning stage is important because it directly impacts profit.  Selecting the appropriate foam and protective coating for a prop prevents the unnecessary use of high quality and more expensive materials when they are not warranted, thereby avoiding extra production costs or resulting in project bids that are not competitive. Equally important, identifying situations where high quality materials are required can also avert profit loss because it prevents the costly rework and repairs that can occur if a prop breaks down prematurely due to poor material choice. Additionally, because finishing work is often the most labor intensive aspect of 3D CNC prop production, correctly assessing the level of fine detail work a prop requires has a direct impact on the profits for that prop. Therefore, a few basic questions can make all the difference towards a lucrative contract and a satisfied client.

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