Foam is a versatile material with numerous uses, from furniture-making and construction to more complex applications in aerospace and engineering. Foam also comes in many different types and offers endless possibilities for fabrication to meet specific needs.
Whatever your project is, success starts with selecting the right foam material. Whether you have used foam before or you are new to this material, read on to learn more about the factors to consider in foam material selection.
Foam is made by trapping gas bubbles in a solid or liquid substance, and it goes by a few different names. What many people know as sponge is actually solid foam.
Solid foam can have open or closed cells. The cells that make up open-cell foam are woven together and are filled with air. While open-cell foam is soft, this material does not handle water too well.
In closed-cell foam, the cells are not connected. This type of foam is, therefore, denser, more compressive, and has better insulation properties. Closed-cell foam is also stronger and does not absorb moisture as fast as open-cell foam does.
Both closed and open-cell foam is available in many different types. Examples of widely used foam materials include the following:
Reticulated foam is an open-cell type of foam characterized by a distinctively lightweight design. Manufacturers use chemical or thermal processes to remove the membrane from the cells to create a tensile, low density, and porous foam material.
Reticulated foam is suitable for use as a filter, in microphones, outdoor furniture, cosmetic applicators, paint rollers,
Flexible and Rigid Foams
Flexible foams have a structure that allows the material to bend and withstand impact without deforming. Rigid foam, on the other hand, lacks flexibility and can easily succumb to damage if subjected to excessive force.
Memory foam is a popular material in the mattress-making industry. This type of foam is made from a substance known as viscoelastic that makes the foam material particularly soft and heat absorbent.
Due to its distinctive properties, memory foam responds to the body's heat and molds to support the body's weight. Once you remove the pressure, the foam returns to its original shape.
These are just a few types of foams available in the market. Others include rate-responsive, volara, polyester, polyether, and silicone foams, just to mention a few.
Each type of foam has its own distinctive characteristics, depending on how you want to use the foam material. Your industrial supplies vendor may need you to specify these attributes when selecting the right foam for your particular application.
Important foam characteristics to consider include tensile capacity, tear resistance, weight per unit volume, fire resistance, heat conductivity, and noise reduction.
You can also fabricate foam and change the physical structure of the material based on your needs. If necessary, you can change the foam's shape with a wide range of techniques such as water-jet cutting, kiss cutting, CNC machining, and others.
Many industries use foam for various purposes. When selecting foam material, consider how you will use the material. Different applications require different types of foam material, distinct properties, and a particular cell structure. The type of foam the shipbuilding industry uses is distinctively different from what those in fields such as medicine, construction, or automotive industries use.
Foam is, undeniably, a useful material across many industries. Selecting the right type of foam requires working with a knowledgeable supplier that will consider your needs and recommend suitable foam materials.
If you want a reliable supplier of high-quality foam products in California and Nevada, look no further than California Industrial Rubber Company. In addition to our general use foam materials, we also sell specialized foam products from Rubatex. Get in touch with us today to find out more about our products.