I have a project that requires me to use either one of the materials. Which one of the materials is better to use?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ in order for us to answer you, you'll have to define "better" $\endgroup$
    – Federico
    Jun 21, 2022 at 9:49
  • $\begingroup$ What kind of project are you doing? What size? What is your end goal? Balsawood is stronger but foam can resist crash landings during tests more easily $\endgroup$
    – SirHawrk
    Jun 21, 2022 at 9:53
  • $\begingroup$ Better as in based on strength and whether it will affect flight performance (distance flown, etc.), this project's end goal is to make an unpowered glider with a minimum wing span of 30cm that can fly as far as possible in a straight line. $\endgroup$ Jun 21, 2022 at 9:57
  • $\begingroup$ 30 cm? you shoul probably go to drones.se and post it there then. and include a good explanation of what is "better" for you. "based on strength" does not mean much. $\endgroup$
    – Federico
    Jun 21, 2022 at 10:26
  • $\begingroup$ How will it be launched? $\endgroup$
    – Jim
    Jun 21, 2022 at 14:33

1 Answer 1


Good old balsa is generally better. It is stronger for its weight than Styrofoam, stiffer, and offers variety in building.

Styrofoam is cheap, easily molded and easier to repair. "Foamies" can be mass produced and are adequate as models with reinforcement such as carbon fibre rods. Several types of foam are available.

Combinations of balsa and foam are possible, such as a foam core with wooden skin.

But building up a truss core structure (lots of triangles), spars, and ribs with balsa instead will save weight and will be far stronger. Skin can be 1/32 " balsa, Monokote, or even doped paper.

Construction will more closely resemble that of a full scale aircraft.


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