Dollar Tree has big sheets of foam board available for… well… a dollar. It’s cheap and cuts super fast. The edges it leaves are a little fragile because the foam core ‘pulls back’ away from the heat of the laser. that said, it makes an awesome material for rapid prototyping; to realistically show the scale or structure of a project before I cut the actual object from wood or plastic.
Here is the shield and sword Ellen asked me to make, with a couple soda cans for scale. The shield was too big to cut from one piece of material, so I had to cut it from smaller pieces and fit them together in a way so that the seams didn’t overlap.
The sword, on the other hand, was digitally traced from a screen grab, then cut from one piece of foam. But it turned out to be too small, and there was an issue with the ergonomics of the handle. But it only took 40 seconds to cut, and cost me less than a quarter for materials to find all that out, then make the necessary adjustments for the final product.