Foam & Sponge
No matter what profession we are in, we would have encountered and worked with foam and sponge. Baby toys, bath products, sports gear, and medical equipment all depend on different types of foam to help in the performance and function of their products. Because not all products use foam in the same way, specialty foams have evolved to cater to different industries. Now, multiple types of foam exist ensuring that diverse applications dependent on the versatile material can benefit from it.
What function does foam and sponge serve? Depending on the application, foam and sponge can help a product’s performance in a multitude of ways. Certain types are suited to insulation, whereas others are used to create absorbent sponges. Understanding the different types of foam can help when selecting which one to use for a specific purpose. The following are examples of foam and sponge:
This type of foam is an all purpose open-cell foam, meaning it’s light and absorbent. Its applications cover areas such as sponges, general cushioning, protective packaging, and paint rollers. Polyether foam is especially useful for cosmetics and toys.
Polyester foam is a good choice for display packaging and comes in fire retardant grades. Like polyether foam, it is open-cell, relatively light, and available in several densities (density is measured on a scale of pounds per cubic foot—the lower the number, the less dense it is). It can also be used for acoustic purposes (like blocking sound), gaskets, and cushioning.
This closed-cell polyethylene foam is denser than polyester and polyether foams, and has excellent shock-absorption properties. It is used for packaging electronic equipment, floatation applications, and material handling. Ethafoam is often extruded or laminated.
Volara is an extruded material that can be shaped through thermoforming. Its smooth surface can be laminated or combined with adhesive tapes—it is often used in gaskets, tapes, medical products, insulation, and protective padding. Volara usually comes in rolls and density can range from 2 to 12 pounds per cubic foot.
Closed-Cell Rubber Sponge
A neoprene and vinyl combination, this kind of foam comes in four different densities and is well suited to outdoor use, such as outdoor electrical outlets, weather-stripping, thermal insulation, and industrial padding. The material comes in sheets and rolls.
Open-Cell Rubber Sponge
A popular material for mouse-pads, open-cell sponge rubber is very dense and highly resilient. A good choice for applications where the rubber is exposed to repetitive wear and tear, such as shoe soles, it possesses anti-fatigue and non-skid properties.
Used in household sponges, cellulose consists of open–cell blended fibers and is extremely absorbent. It is also available in foam combinations and with added non-woven fiber scrubbers.
Non-abrasive scrubber foams consist of either polyether or ester foams, and are added to a foam sponge for the cleaning of products like PTFE and glass. Abrasive non-woven fibers can often scratch delicate products, so non-abrasive scrubber foams are used instead.
Kemtron can advise you on the type of foam or sponge you would need to meet your product objectives.