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Sep 02, 2012, 02:37 PM
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east side as in detroit area
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Sep 02, 2012, 09:15 PM
Registered User

Laminating MPF Foam.

I have noticed some recent posts from those who need a thicker MPF material. So the upshot is, what is the best way to build up the thickness of MPF through the lamination of two layers?

For me the one big issue is the cost of the glue. You're going to need large quantities of glue or spray adhesive to deal with the large surface areas. The Gorilla type foaming glues are out of the question...way, way, way too expensive! I have not used the 3M spray adhesives, but I would assume these could prove expensive as well. I also assume these spray adhesives work like contact cement. Once the two surfaces of foam come in contact with one another, there's no chance of making fine adjustment. Once they're stuck, they're stuck!

Here's a method I've come up with that does a good job of laminating large pieces. It uses Elmer's "Carpenter's Wood Glue MAX" that I buy in gallon quantities from Menard's for $28.00. For those who aren't familiar with Menard's, it's a Midwest hardware store chain that's similar to Lowe's or Home Depot. This glue is a new formulation of the original Elmer's "Carpenter's Wood Glue". It's pale yellow like the original formulation. The original formula is also available at Menard's for $15.00 per gallon. I guess you could also try the Elmer's "Glue All" White Glue for $13.00 per gallon(also available at Menard's), but I don't think the white glue will do the same job as the other two products. I've found the more expensive "Carpenter's Wood Glue MAX" formulation to be a surprisingly "smooth flowing" glue, and I think it's probably more spreadable the other two tackier products. However, I have no reason to doubt that the original Elmer's Carpenter's Wood Glue formulation wouldn't work too.

Also note that this carpenter's wood glue is completely unsuitable or for "edgewise gluing", or "high strength" gluing like firewall attachment, or anything that involves gap filling. For that I recommend the Elmer's "Glue All Max". Here the naming becomes problematic. Elmer's "Glue All MAX" is not the Elemer's "Glue All White Glue" product. The "Glue All Max" is a orange colored polyurethane glue product much like the original polyurethane Gorilla Glue. The Elmer's "Glue All MAX" is available in up to 8oz. bottles, is cheaper than Gorilla, and supposedly less foamy. Your can pre-dampen the glueable surfaces with water, or works either way. I usually use quilting pins to hold the newly glued pieces together.

So now I'm going to discuss my lamination method as well as the glue table setup I use.
Pictures will follow the discussion.

1. Glue tables: I use a couple of Sear's Craftsman Work Stations with the adjustable tops that can be split open...Reg $29.00 each...$25.00 during Christmas.

2. Tempered Glass Shelves: I use the Craftsman Work Stations to support the work surface consisting of two pieces of 14"x48"x3/16" tempered glass shelving. Don't use window glass!!! I don't want anyone (or anyone's children) to bleed to death!!! ONLY USE TEMPERED GLASS!!! If you are in a large metropolitan area, find a wholesaler/distributor who specializes in "Store Fixtures". These tempered glass shelves are a common stock item. They come to the wholesaler in cases of 5 shelves per box, but can usually be bought locally as singles for $15 to $20 a piece. You'll need 2 or more shelves. The local vendor I got mine from said there is a high amount of breakage during shipping, so if you order over the prepared for not only breakage but high shipping fees. A $10 per shelf price looks good until you're wacked with the shipping costs.

3. You'll also need an adhesive spreader/trowel (4inch x 9inch) with 1/16" x1/16" grooves spread 3/32" apart. You've seen what I'm talking about. Those trowels that spread the adhesive for ceramic tiles or sheet vinyl flooring. It's the same idea, only these particular trowels have exceeding small grooves...DON'T GET ANYTING WITH BIGGER GROOVES.

4. For smaller surfaces get Foam Paint Brushes in the 1", 2", 3", and 4" sizes. Tear off the foam leaving the flat interior plastic paddle. Take a hole punch like you used in grade school and punch half circles along the flat leading edge, leaving a flat portion between the rounded grooves (see the picture below). Some foam brushes have better plastic paddles than others. I especially like the one's Menard's carries. They're called POLY_BRUSH by JEN MFG USA. Always clean off the wet carpenter's glue with soap and water. However, if you forget, the dried carpenter's glue peals off very easily in intact hunks with your fingernail. The polyurethane glues are a different story entirely. If they dry, they are impossible to remove from both the metal trowels, plastic paddle brushes, or glass surfaces for that matter.

5. Of course you need to purchase a One Gallon jug of Elmer's Carpenter's Wood Glue, preferably the new "MAX" formulation.

6. Buy 2 or 3 10oz. clear plastic Catsup/Mustard dispensers at WalMart for $1.00 each

7. Pour 1 cup (8oz.) of glue into a glass mixing bowl. Add 1.0 to 1.5 tablespoons of water to thin(I use 1.5 tbs), then mix thoroughly.

8. Spatula the thinned glue into a 10oz. Catsup/Mustard dispenser. I recommend mixing only one batch of glue at a time. Then as you're running out of the first batch, mix up the next. One gallon of glue will make 16 of these smaller batches, so a gallon of glue should last a long, long time.

9. Dispense beads of the glue over both surfaces. Trowel so that the glue evenly covers the surface. Hold the trowel at a 45 degree angle when spreading creating rows of glue. Don't use too much can always add more to the sparse areas as needed. Don't worry about the working time. You easily have 10 to 15 minutes to dink around with your spreading. When you like the distribution of the glue on both pieces, then center one of the pieces of foam on one of the glass shelves, then stack on the top piece of foam, glue-side to glue-side. You can move the top foam piece to line up the edges. now stack on the empty glass shelf. If you have more then two pieces of glass, you can glue up a second set foam pieces and put them on top. It's like building a layer cake. Glass shelf...foam shelf...foam layup...etc. I tend to deal in large pieces (12"x48" laminations) that will be cut down into smaller pieces later.

10. Finally, when you have the top piece of glass in place, add weight centered across the entire top surface. I use liquid laundry detergent jugs filled with water.

11. When looking in from the side openings at the glue seams, you should see only small beads and blobs of glue protruding from the seam. You should not have so much glue that it streams down to touch and puddle on the glass. If you do have such an overflow, then cut back on your glue the next time you lay up a lamination.

12. Wait a full 48 hours before removing the weight and taking out the foam laminations. Sit the foam flat and let it breath for the next week or so. If you weigh the foam layups on a 5 lb digital postage scale, over time you will notice that as the glue cures, the laminations are getting lighter and lighter (grams at a time). When the weight stays constant, then the glue is fully dried. You can also hold your foam up to the daylight and see how well your glue was distributed. You will have some dark areas of excess glue that will lighten over time as the glue cures.

Note. that this lay-up method also works for the unsheathed Owens Corning Pink insulation board in the 1/2" and up thicknesses. Of course for any board having a thin plastic wrap cladding, that plastic wrap layer must be removed before gluing. Again, this gluing method only works for the "broad flat manufactured surfaces" of extruded foam sheets. Anything else is not nearly flat enough, and will have too many voids for this glue to have any effective bonding power. In this case switch over to the polyurethane foaming glue products like Elmer's Glue-All MAX...or other alternative.
Last edited by RJKIRK; Sep 02, 2012 at 09:49 PM.
Sep 02, 2012, 09:46 PM
Retired CAD guy
birdofplay's Avatar
how it water based glue going to "dry" if it's sandwitched between two layers of
air tight foam sheeting ?

Plus alphatic glues tend to shrink when dry ( if they dry )
and pull loose from foam sheeting.

I just gave away some simlar glues.

Laminations have better luck with 3M77 contact type glue

Just my experience.

Do as you please.

Sep 02, 2012, 10:17 PM
Registered User
Here's my latest MPF build. I'm really enjoying experimenting with different designs using this foam.

I combined bits and pieces of several planes including GPW's "One Page Floater" and the EPParasol to make a good size rudder/elevator trainer. Wing span is 43", chord is 9". Motor is an Ele C20 1550 kv turning an 8x4 prop on 2S 850 Mah LiPo. AUW is 11.2 ounces.

This one flies slowly enough to be comfortable for an experienced pilot in an elementary school baseball field.
Last edited by BrianRickman; Sep 02, 2012 at 10:18 PM. Reason: Forgot to add the picture!
Sep 02, 2012, 11:00 PM
Registered User
Hi Bob,

The only thing I can say about drying is that the wings actually do loose 30-45 grams over a two week period. Then they pretty much settle at a final weight. That's not to say there may not be some moist patches within that may never fully dry. But not enough to make much of a difference.

In coming up with this method I found that the thickness and evenness of the spread of the glue is critical. That's the reason for the very fine comb on the trowel and the lack of a lot of overflow out the edges. Too much glue is a killer...

But so far the results are pretty good.
Sep 03, 2012, 01:11 AM
Registered User
Originally Posted by birdofplay
how it water based glue going to "dry" if it's sandwitched between two layers of air tight foam sheeting?
How can any very porous foam be air tight?

A few weeks ago I laminated some Depron with plain old grocery-store Elmer's Glue-All. I now have solid blocks of 12mm Depron. The bone-dry bond is absolutely permanent. Nothing could possibly pull the two sheets apart.

Originally Posted by birdofplay
...Plus alphatic glues tend to shrink when dry ( if they dry ) and pull loose from foam sheeting.
They dry quite well and pull the two pieces of foam sheeting together forever.

Originally Posted by birdofplay
Laminations have better luck with 3M77 contact type glue
People sure don't have better luck.

The warning label on the Elmer's bottle:


The warning label on the 3M77 spray can:


...Vapors may ignite explosively. Keep away from heat, sparks, open flame, pilot lights and other sources of ignition. Do not smoke when using product. Use only with adequate ventilation. Prevent vapor build-up by opening doors and windows. Ensure fresh air entry during application and drying. Avoid breathing vapors, mist, or spray. Avoid eye and skin contact. Keep out of reach of children."

Compare the Elmer's Glue-All Material Safety Data Sheet with the 3M77 Material Safety Data Sheet

From the Elmer's MSDS:

"3. Hazards Identification

3.1 Emergency Overview

Appearance: Milky white liquid
Odor: Mild acetic aroma
Not an immediate health hazard.
Not a significant fire hazard.

* HMIS Rating
HEALTH = 0 (minimal)
FLAMMABILITY = 0 (minimal)
REACTIVITY = 0 (minimal)

3.2 Potential Health Effects

* Immediate Hazards
INGESTION: No hazards known to Borden.
INHALATION: No hazards known to Borden.
SKIN: No hazards known to Borden.
EYES: No hazards known to Borden.

* Delayed Hazards
None of the components present in this product at concentrations equal
to or greater than 0.1% have been listed by NTP, classified by IARC,
nor regulated by OSHA as a carcinogen.

From the 3M77 MSDS:

"Ingredient % by Weight:

Acetone 20% - 30%
Propane 15% - 25%
Cyclohexane 10% - 20%
Petroleum distillates 10% - 20%
Hexane < 1%


Eye Contact:
Moderate Eye Irritation: Signs/symptoms may include redness, swelling, pain, tearing, and blurred or hazy vision.

Skin Contact:
Mild Skin Irritation: Signs/symptoms may include localized redness, swelling, and itching.

Respiratory Tract Irritation: Signs/symptoms may include cough, sneezing, nasal discharge, headache, hoarseness, and nose and throat pain.

Single exposure, above recommended guidelines, may cause:
Cardiac Sensitization: Signs/symptoms may include irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia), faintness, chest pain, and may be fatal.
Intentional concentration and inhalation may be harmful or fatal.
May be absorbed following inhalation and cause target organ effects.

Target Organ Effects:
Central Nervous System (CNS) Depression: Signs/symptoms may include headache, dizziness, drowsiness, incoordination, nausea,
slowed reaction time, slurred speech, giddiness, and unconsciousness.

Prolonged or repeated exposure may cause:
Peripheral Neuropathy: Signs/symptoms may include tingling or numbness of the extremities, incoordination, weakness of the hands and feet, tremors and muscle atrophy.
Contains a chemical or chemicals which can cause birth defects or other reproductive harm.


OSHA Flammability Classification: Class IA Flammable Liquid

Use fire extinguishers with class B extinguishing agents (e.g., dry chemical, carbon dioxide).

Special Fire Fighting Procedures: Wear full protective equipment (Bunker Gear) and a self-contained breathing apparatus(SCBA).
Unusual Fire and Explosion Hazards: Closed containers exposed to heat from fire may build pressure and explode. Extremely flammable liquid and vapor. Vapors may travel long distances along the ground or floor to an ignition source and flash back.

Aerosol container contains flammable material under pressure."

Does anybody need that kind of "luck"? I'll stick with Elmer's, the harmless stuff every schoolkid in America uses all the time, and I'll get super-strong foam bonds with it.
Sep 03, 2012, 05:35 AM
Ken's CAD Models
dz1sfb's Avatar
Fortunately for me, laminating foam is not a matter of putting together whole sheets to build thickness. In most cases it is a matter of laminating smaller parts. For this I have found Gorilla glue to be quite economical. I can build 3-4 of my WW2 combat models from one bottle of the White Formula.

For areas to be laminated I apply the glue to the smaller part and squeegee it to a very thin layer, making sure it is completely covered and clamp the parts together. I get 100% adhesion and little to no blow out. Clamping is critical in this operation. Air spaces will not bond as the glue is minimal. Makes for very light builds and easy sanding of the lamination lines.

I understand each one has there favorite methods and products. This is mine, and what ever people use they tend to get skillful at. No bad here if you do something different, but this is how I have overcome the cost issue of Gorilla glue, and the associated complexities of product expansion.

Latest blog entry: Ken's CAD Models new web site
Sep 03, 2012, 10:10 AM
Registered User
Wow, 100 pages of posts!!!
It's been only ten short months to the day since Ken first brainstormed the possibility of a foam sheet product aimed squarely at the RC community. Then he had to go and drag two of his buddies, Mike and Don, into the stew!!!
It's been fun watching the progress...

Thanks guys!!!
Sep 03, 2012, 10:53 AM
Retired CAD guy
birdofplay's Avatar
That was certainly a PHd level dissertation - wheeew

There are TWO kinds of foams OPEN cell and Closed cell.

Closed cell is AIR TIGHT.

If you do not want to follow the directions on the can then forget 3m77
and try a water based contact cement product.

Health and environmentaly conscious folks might want to choose another hobby.
After all, this hobby just chews up resources in the quest for fun.
I am amazed that the EPA has not totally shut us down YET.

Last edited by birdofplay; Sep 03, 2012 at 11:02 AM.
Sep 03, 2012, 11:27 AM
Registered User
I dunno, but, to me, laminating foams like this seems to be a lot simpler than the methods and procedures described above.

Like I said, I've very successfully laminated Depron, and all I did was dribble the cheapest, most basic Elmer's available onto the sheets, spread it out with two fingers, dribble on more Elmer's where it seemed it needed it, stick the two sheets together, rub it down with the palm of my hand, and walk away from it. I didn't clamp it or put weights on it.

My tool was my right hand. The work surface was my dining room table. The results with the Depron were great, and I can see that I'm going to get the same result with the big MPF piece I'm doing.
Sep 03, 2012, 11:35 AM
Registered User
With all due respect...I'm afraid I have to weigh in here concerning the belief that closed-cell foam is "air-tight"...

Heres a link to the Dow Corning fact page concerning the Pink Dow Fomular insulation board:

Foamular is that closed-cell pink foam available in 4x8 sheets that run from 1/2" inches in thickness and up. In exterior wall house insulation, it can be installed outside the plastic vapor barrier that is installed(tacked on) first.

Here is a quote directly off the fact sheet:

Q: Does FOAMULARŽ used as sheathing on the exterior of a wall create a double vapor retarder?

A: It may seem that it would because it is perceived to be “impermeable plastic”, but, when considered in the context of the wall, generally, it does not. All sheathing materials resist moisture vapor penetration to some degree. So, in that regard, all sheathings are a “vapor retarder”, that are often used opposite an internal vapor retarder, thus creating a “double vapor retarder”. To really assess, it is important to differentiate a couple of key properties, perm rating and R-value. 1” FOAMULARŽ sheathing actually has a vapor permeance (1.1 perm) that is higher (passes more water vapor) than the commonly accepted definition of a vapor retarder (1.0 perm), and, higher than ˝” OSB (0.70 perm), commonly perceived as an acceptable sheathing. So, from that perspective alone, FOAMULARŽ passes more water vapor (is less of a vapor retarder) than does commonly accepted OSB sheathing. Then, consider the fact that FOAMULARŽ is an insulating sheathing, having an R-value of 5 per inch. An insulating sheathing keeps the wall stud cavity warmer. Warmer air and surfaces are less likely to experience condensation than colder air/surfaces at any given level of humidity. So, FOAMULARŽ insulating sheathing, that is also semi-permeable, is not a “double vapor retarder” concern.

So at least the pink stuff does breathe (pass water vapor).

I would be supprised if MPF is any different in this regard.
Last edited by RJKIRK; Sep 03, 2012 at 12:27 PM.
Sep 03, 2012, 12:06 PM
TheOne420's Avatar
Originally Posted by Depronicus
I dunno, but, to me, laminating foams like this seems to be a lot simpler than the methods and procedures described above.

Like I said, I've very successfully laminated Depron, and all I did was dribble the cheapest, most basic Elmer's available onto the sheets, spread it out with two fingers, dribble on more Elmer's where it seemed it needed it, stick the two sheets together, rub it down with the palm of my hand, and walk away from it. I didn't clamp it or put weights on it.

My tool was my right hand. The work surface was my dining room table. The results with the Depron were great, and I can see that I'm going to get the same result with the big MPF piece I'm doing.
I usually just mist 2 pieces of foam with 3m77 and push them together. cant get any more simple than that. and i dont have to walk away for a day before i can use the piece i laminated.
so there are easy ways to do just about any process and when you described your process it sounded just like someone using gorilla glue except you didnt set a book on it when you walked away. and gorilla glue can dry in an hour so faster dry time than elmers.
Sep 03, 2012, 01:15 PM
Lost in Oblivia
kaptain_zero's Avatar
It's important to realize that it says "vapor" and not "water". Water based glues contain water, which must first become vapor before it can migrate out through the foam. We know that gluing chip board works, but it works much better on the cut edges because the fibers can wick the water away and then allow it to transform into vapor... this does not happen that much with foams, though the cut edges of foams IS more porous than the slick surfaces.

That said, there is no real right or wrong here but rather this is a "run whatcha brung" scenario. Use what you have, do some tests to make sure it works for your intended purpose and you are good to go. If you don't have anything, getting these ideas tossed around will give you an idea of what to try and what might be most cost effective in your particular area. But as always, YMMV..... What works for one in the cold, dry North, might not work so well for another in the warm, humid South and the same applies the other way around.

I've tested a few of the suggestions and found they work pretty good and some are cheaper/cleaner than using my epoxy solution... but I've got a stock pile of epoxy and it doesn't last forever, so I guess I'll keep using it for now + some nitrile gloves (also stockpiled).

On laminating for strength... I've been wondering about layering with light/thin fiberglass/carbon cloth instead of rods/tubes....

Laminating allows for shaping too, 2 thin sheets laminated over a form can put a permanent curve in a sheet if desired. With a vacuum bag setup and some gentle heat, even more complex shapes might be possible The more I think about this, the more I look forward to the potential availability of thinner sheets of MPF.


Kaptain "Run whatcha brung, cuz you can't win if you're not in the race!" Zero
Sep 03, 2012, 03:40 PM
Retired CAD guy
birdofplay's Avatar
Sigh ...

Put a small piece up to your lips and TRY to blow or suck air thu it !

If you cant Breath thru it THEN, I conclude that, it is air tight .

I will concede that it is NOT hermetically sealed
and that "Tight" may be a bit of an over statement.

Wood has a porosity that allows moisture to be absorbed thereby allowing
what air that does creep in to assist in the cure out of glue.

Can we get back to Model Airplane Foam now sheeeez !


PS - I am very very proud of my restraint and composure.
Sep 03, 2012, 03:56 PM
Ken's CAD Models
dz1sfb's Avatar

F-22 64mm EDF from MPF

Well stated Bob!

Here is my latest MPF build. It is my version of the TomHe F-22 with a 64mm EDF unit. Bench runs look promising. Maiden tomorrow at our usual Tuesday night combat/sport flying session.


Latest blog entry: Ken's CAD Models new web site

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