Solid industrial foam is a versatile lightweight material that can be either flexible or rigid. While the term foam is often used interchangeably with sponge, the two are very different materials used in separate types of applications. Web Seal can recommend the most effective foam material for your specific application.
Foam is produced with a distinct mix of ingredients though a process of dissolving gas under high pressure into a polymer.
The process uses a blowing agent to trap thousands of tiny gas bubbles (polyhedral cells) in the polymer to create an open structure more akin to a mesh than a solid. The amount of flexibility is based on the type of blowing agent and other ingredients used.
Differing cell structures and properties created during the production process impact the finished material’s performance:
- dielectric strength
- noise reduction coefficient (NRC)
- tensile strength
- yield strength
Foam can be die cut, kiss-cut, waterjet cut, and laminated with protective barriers.
Foam is frequently used for electrical, sound, thermal, or vibration insulation, lightweight construction components, air, fluid and gas filtration, seals and gaskets, thermal barriers, EMI/RFI shielding, cushioning and packaging.
Foam polymers are commonly polyethylene or polyurethane.
Polyethylene is durable, lightweight and resilient. It has predictable performance under compressive force, high resistance to chemicals and moisture, superior vibration dampening, and insulation. A very versatile material, polyethylene works well for applications that include shock absorbers for industrial machinery, hood gaskets in mobile equipment, and vibration isolators for appliances.
Cross-Linked Polyethylene Foam (XLPE)
Water and ozone resistant, cross-linked polyethylene foam is similar to polyethylene foam but with the ability to protect class “A” surfaces. XLPE is commonly used in life sciences and medical environments as well as for expansion joints, land and marine vehicle components, sports and leisure equipment, and a wide range of industrial applications.
Polyurethane is resilient and has a wide temperature range. It is made in varying degrees of firmness, typically thicker and softer than polyethylene with excellent cushioning and protection.
- Polyester, high chemical, heat and oil resistance, strong cut and tear resistance
- Polyether, ether-based polyurethane, low cost, highly resilient
- Rebond, firm but flexible, made from reclaimed and scrap foam, highly resilient, and tolerates high impact/usage
- Reticulated (filter foam), wide range of porosity usually classified by PPI (pores per inch)
- Viscoelastic (or “memory”) foam, polyurethane with additional chemicals that increase density and viscosity
Expanded Polystyrene (EPS)
Expanded polystyrene is rigid, produced from styrene and pentane. EPS offers excellent heat and cold insulation, minimal water absorption and is chemically inert. EPS is typically used in packaging, insulation, freezer/refrigerator components, safety devices, and construction applications.
Examples of specialty foams:
- Fire retardant (FR)
- Military spec
- California 117 compliant
- Anti-static (A/S)