The phrase "thermoforming foam" refers to the thermoforming of thermoplastic foam. What, then, is thermoplastic foam? It is a sponge-like material, available in both solid and liquid form, made from the frothing and subsequent cooling of a molten polymer.
When manufacturers thermoform foam, they are able to create innumerable products for applications primarily related to: shipping and packaging, shock absorption, insulation, acoustics and vibration dampening. Some of the many thermoformed foam products that are made for these applications include: packaging, partitions, casing, wall padding, panel cores, shock mounts, shock pads, vibration dampening pads, cushioning, portable coolers and aerospace gap filling.
In general, thermoforming foam creates products that are lightweight, compressible, durable and resistant to mold, mildew and bacterial growth. They also tend to have low thermal conductivity and low water vapor transmission. Those foams that manufacturers use for thermoforming can be divided into two main groups: open cell structured foam (flexible) and closed cell structured foam (rigid). The former is made up of cells, also called pores, that are joined together. This makes a foam that is softer, more compressible, more flexible and easy to break apart when needed. The latter is made up of cells that are closed off from another another. They do not compress, making the foam firmer, more pressure resistant and more compact.
There are a number of different thermoforming processes manufacturers may use to thermoform your foam. This include vacuum forming, foam compression molding and cut-in-place forming, among others. In general, the process of thermoforming begins when manufacturers take a thermoplastic foam sheet, which may be made from PVC, polyurethane, or something else, and heat it in an oven until it is pliable. Then they move it over and place it in or on a pre-formed mold, where they leave it to take its shape and then harden and cool.
No matter your exact specifications, there's likely a thermoformed foam for you. If you’d like to learn more about your options, reach out to an experienced thermoforming professional. To help you be successful in this endeavor, we've compiled a list of those suppliers and manufacturers we believe are the most qualified to work with you. See who they are by scrolling towards the top of this page.