- General

Foam Molding: Foamy Goodness You Never Knew You Loved

What do you tend to think of when you read the word “foam”. Well, if it’s the end of the work day there’s a chance you might be thinking of the nice head of foam standing between you and a pint of beer. For all the other hours of the day, you may think about the cushioning material in your car seats or the luxurious “memory” foam sitting on top of your mattress at home, but there’s far more to foam than you may typically realize. This is where foam molding comes into play.

Foam boasts an extremely wide variety of unique and beneficial properties that make it suitable for a seriously wide range of applications and industries. The inherent benefits of foam are accentuated even further when it is combined with modern molding and fabricating techniques that give it thermal, impact, and abrasion resistance, making it much more than something nice to suit on, but a material that can be used to also protect, cover, and insulate as well.

It would take a very long article to accurately list all of the products and components created through foam molding. Some of these include protective packaging, seating, custom product packaging, medical device packaging, electronic components, food service packaging, and much more.

Foam can be molded in a few key ways, namely by injection molding or by compression. Both technologies have their upsides and both are frequently used around the world.

Foam compression molding is a process where the molding material is heated in an open mold cavity, which is then closed. Then, pressure is used to force the material used – in this case, foam – into all of the areas. The compression molding process uses thermo setting resins in the form of granules, perform, or putty to finalize the finished product.

The foams used in both compression molding and injection molding can be either of the open or closed cell variety. In the former’s case, closed cell foam provides a number of benefits, such as resistances to water, mold, bacteria, and mildew. These resistances make closed-cell foam ideal for sterile product packaging such as food and medical packaging.

Compression foam molding is a high-pressure and high-volume process that works to produce relatively intricate parts inexpensively, especially when compared to injection molding. At the same time, very little material is wasted, making it a cost efficient choice when the particular material being compression molded is expensive.

The other form of foam molding, direct injection expanded foam molding, is often referred to by its much shorter nickname: injection molded foam. Injection molded foam creates soft foam products similar to compression molded foam products. However, in this case the products are manufactured directly from a chemical compound into the final product. While more expensive, this eliminates the need for die cutting and tends to make a higher level of intricacy and detail possible.

In injection molding, the injected chemical compound is not actually foam. When an endothermic reaction in the mold takes place, agents in the chemical compound result in rapid expansion that creates the full product in the shame of the mold.

So when you wear shoes with foam soles (such as sandals),play with sporting goods that are foam, or benefit from medical instruments that have been protected by precisely manufactured foam packaging – you’re cashing in on the wonderful qualities of foam and the technological innovation that allows us to form it into the shapes we rely on every day.