Worbla & Thermoplastics
Worbla & Thermoplastics
What is Worbla?
Worbla is the brand name for a line of easy to use thermoplastics popular in costuming and crafting. Worbla’s Finest Art was the first of these thermoplastics to be released and thus is often just referred to as "Worbla". Finest Art is a brown, opaque thermoplastic with a built-in adhesive and zero waste.
How much Worbla do I need for my project?
We suggest making a paper pattern of the project first. After you have your pattern made, mark out an area on the floor or a table that is 1m X 1.5m (the size of a Jumbo sheet of Worbla).
Lay out your pattern pieces in this area (leave a little space in between each piece if your pattern does not include extra material for folding Worbla over the edges). Don't forget to account for pieces that are duplicated multiple times or that need Worbla applied to the front AND back.
If all your pieces fit within the marked area, congrats! You only need 1 Jumbo sheet of Worbla! If they fit within half the area then you only need a Large and so on (Worbla is sold in full, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, and 1/16th sheets).
If you fill your 1m X 1.5m area and still have pattern pieces left over, then carefully remove the pieces, set them aside, and repeat the proceedure with the pattern pieces you have left. The number of times you fill the area is the number of sheets you will need.
What tools do you use to work with Worbla?
Worbla products can be cut with regular scissors, drawn on with pen or marker, sanded, glued with glues meant for plastics, and painted with anything from acrylics to spray paint.
A heat gun is the most common method for heating Worbla products. To cut relief designs, or to flatten out seams, a hot knife or wood burning tool can be used (with proper ventilation).
Gloves are necessary when working with TranspArt and Crystal Art, and recommended for other thermalplastics, and are available for purchase in the Daley Kreations store.
Can I use a hairdryer to heat Worbla?
Technically yes, - but we do not recommend it.
The activation temperature for most types of Worbla is 90 degrees Celsius/194 Fahrenheit. Most hair dryers don't get that hot since your scalp will start burning at around 60 C/140 F.
Depending on your hairdryer model it could
possibly work with prolonged exposure on the “high” setting, softening a piece of Worbla enough to activate the adhesive and making it tacky enough to stick to a piece of foam. However that bond will likely be extremely weak – if the foam is flexed at all the Worbla will pop off.
With a hairdryer you ARE NOT using Worbla to its full advantage. If you don't get the Worbla to 90C you won't get it hot enough to stretch over curves, press into details, or roll into shapes – basically all the reasons you spent the money on the material in the first place.
Technically there are other ways to get the Worbla to 90C. You can stick it in near-boiling water, hold it over the steam from a kettle, or put it in a hot oven. These methods, particularly the water and steam methods, all have the downside that, although they work initially, make it difficult to go back and heat just a small area in order to make adjustments to your piece.
As a result we highly recommend using a heat gun (either a large "paint stripper" type or a smaller "embossing gun" model, although a smaller model will make it hard to heat large pieces).
How should I store Worbla? How do I flatten rolled Worbla?
Worbla’s products and leftover scraps are best stored in a dry, room temperature conditions – 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F).
If stored in a cold area, allow the sheets to warm before working with them as very cold Worbla sheets can be brittle until warmed.
Worbla sheets are typically sold in tight rolls. If you are storing your Worbla, we suggest unrolling them into something looser. Worbla sheets may be picked up as flat upon request.
If your Worbla is curling when you unroll it, clear a space and lay it flat with weights on each corner for 24 hours. This should help flatten it for use.
How do you attach two pieces of thermoplastic? How do you attach it to other materials?
The majority of Worbla products will self adhere when heated, as well as adhere to other thermalplastic products and foams.
When working with Worbla's TranspArt we recommend attaching pieces with an adhesive such as super-glue.
Thibra will not stick permanently to EVA foam. We recommend applying contact cement to your EVA foam before applying heated Thibra overtop.
How durable/strong is Worbla? What about other thermoplastics?
There is no specific tensile rating for most Worblas and it is not made to support weight itself. Unsupported single sheets of classic, black, white, Worbla Mesh, and Thibra will show stress lines and may crack, if bent double when cold.
Thermalplastic backed with EVA foam or other materials is much stronger. When thermalplastic scraps are combined into a clay and used to sculpt pieces instead it becomes
much stronger depending on the exact shape. The thicker the piece the stronger it will be.
Worbla's TranspArt and KobraCast Art are much stronger and more tear resistant than many other thermoplastics. However we still do not recommend using either for supporting weight.
What sort of foam can you use with Worbla and other thermoplastics?
For the sandwich and backing methods many people use foam sheets such as "Fun Foam" or craft (EVA) foam.
Daley Kreations offers a variety of foam products that can be used in conjunction with thermoplastics including EVA foam in various thicknesses and densities, L200 foam, and LED foam.
If Worbla is heat activated, can I wear it outside?
Extreme temperatures may cause Worbla-based costumes to become soft and unsupported structures may begin to soften. Worbla pieces with a foam core will generally stand up better to extreme temperature conditions. Basically - if it's too hot for you to be comfortable it's too hot for your costume!
DO NOT store your Worbla or any finished thermalplastic-based costume pieces inside a vehicle. The temperature within a car will definitely soften and warp Worbla.
Can I get thermoplastics wet?
Because Worbla and other thermoplastics are, well, plastic, yes, they can generally hold up to getting wet.
To be honest the paint finish on your piece is more likely to be damaged than the thermoplastic itself if you get it wet.
Technically EVA foam is also waterproof but we would advise caution if wearing your costume in a pool or salt water as the chemicals may do residue damage to the foam.
Wearing your costume in the rain is likely to be fine - again damage to the foam underneath or to the paint is more likely than damage to the plastic.