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This article will take an in-depth look at closed cell foam.
The article will bring more understanding on topics such as:
Principle of Closed Cell Foam
Types of Closed Cell Foam
Applications and Benefits of Closed Cell Foam
And Much More…
Chapter 1: Principle of Closed Cell Foam
This chapter will discuss what closed cell foam is and its manufacturing. It will also discuss the techniques used to cut closed cell foam and the considerations when choosing closed cell foam.
What is a Closed Cell Foam?
Closed cell foam is a type of foam where the "cells" are tightly pressed together and enclosed, contrasting with the open, traditional polyurethane foam variation or interconnected cells of the open cell. When looking at various types of foams, one tends to notice that they will appear to be made of small bubbles. In a closed-cell foam, none of those bubbles connect to the others, so each one contains an individual tiny pocket of gas. Mostly, in closed-cell foam, the bubbles appear to be more tightly packed and smaller, which makes the foam last longer and more usable for heavy-duty applications.
This results in water rolling off the sides rather than passing through the foam. With greater pressure resistance and higher density, this moldable material comes in many different forms from the rigid polyethylene foam to the squishy feel of Flotex. A closed-cell foam is a versatile material offering enhanced stability and a closed tight seal. The form can be found in different colors and with different thicknesses. The closed cell foams are sturdier and stiffer.
Manufacturing Closed Cell Foam
The manufacture of closed cell foam includes:
Materials Used in Closed Cell Foam
Polyethylene Foam - polyethylene closed cell foam, is made to be sturdy and safeguarded from water retention and stains. This type of foam solution is highly suitable for a range of uses. This foam offers sound dampening properties and great buoyancy, and shock absorption making it ideal for all purposes from packaging to crafts and arts.
Polyethylene Rolls – this is a thinner yet still effective closed cell polyethylene foam that can be found in rolls. This material is ideal for use in a number of applications from automotive purposes and health care needs to recreational and sports uses.
Cross Linked Polyethylene – this material offers a sturdy, thick option, cross linked polyethylene is suitable for a number of applications. It is naturally moldy as well as being mildew resistant in nature, as well as stain and water resistance, this foam offers an attractive appearance when used with packaging needs. It can also be used for flotation devices, construction uses, and industrial purposes.
Polystyrene Foam - When closed cell foam blocks are required polystyrene material is the most suitable. The foams made from this material may be in single units or in packs for an added value to fit the scope of the project which would be required for. This foam is available in several densities to ensure one gets the one they will be looking for. This foam is recommended for use in storage and packaging. It is one of the most rigid foams.
Neoprene Rubber - Offered in rolls or sheet form, this type of rubber is suitable for adding to walls or flooring in areas concerned with cleanliness, and insulation, as well as being used in athletic packaging, and support. It is resistant to mildew, mold, and bacteria which is why it is mostly used in areas such as sports facilities, day-cares, and hospitals.
Gym Rubber - This foam has a high-density foam and a medium firmness, giving it shock absorption and a little bounce. It is suitable for use in day-cares, gyms, and in the insulation of buildings. It is available in several densities and sizes. Choosing this material is a smart move for ensuring a safe and sanitary location.
Volara- It is a foam that offers impressive resistance to everything from stains and chemicals to mildew and mold. Generally used in health care locations and food service areas. This foam can be used for a wide variety of applications. It is found in several colors and sizes.
Polypropylene Foam - When a heavy-duty foam is required, a solution that offers high rigidity, this material is a smart choice. It can be used for packaging when the best protection is required since it’s one of the materials with a high density.
Processes of Manufacturing
Foam is a material that is made by trapping gas inside a liquid. Pressure and heat are then applied to the liquid to turn the foam into a solid. It can carry properties that help with: shock absorption, cushioning, safety, sound deadening, and waterproofing all depending on the type of foam. Closed-cell foam is non-toxic when used in solid form. Actually, these types of foam are regularly used for medical purposes and for food. When in gas or liquid form during the manufacturing process the closed cell foam will be toxic.
Closed Cell Spray Foam Insulation
Closed cell spray foam insulation is considered to be one of the most energy-efficient and effective insulation choices present on the market today. Its thermal value is high making it the perfect insulator in terms of thermal conversion for both residential homes and commercial properties.
Closed Cell Foam Cutting Techniques
Closed cell materials must be cut with a straight, non-serrated blade like a crafting knife or utility knife. These knives are the most suitable because their blades are disposable and easy to replace as they are dull. Scissors can also be used for smaller, informal projects, even though they are only effective on particular foam thicknesses and types. It is smart to have a straight edge to cut from as well. Finally, always cut foam on a stable surface that will not be damaged.
Neoprene, Gym Rubber, Cross-Linked Polyethylene, and Polyethylene Roll, the physical structures of these materials are almost the same. Similar enough to approach them in the same way when cutting the foam.
When dealing with neoprene, XLPE, gym rubber, or polyethylene roll, the first thing that needs to be considered is the material’s thickness. If one is working with sheets 1/8" thick or less, one can consider the use of cutting with sharp scissors. Scissors are only proposed for recreational projects because they may have jagged edges. If making shapes for bath toys, or trimming backing for card making, scissors are effective and fast. As it is flexible, PE roll is the easiest material out of these four to cut with scissors.
Single-Pass Cutting Method
For specific projects that involve materials thicker than 1/8", one can cut with a straight blade. The thickness also needs to be considered as it will dictate which method to use to cut with the knife.
If cutting a sheet 1/2" or less, one should probably use the single pass-through method. In this method, one can make a single blade strike that will slice through the full thickness of the material. Follow the pattern down the foam until you have the required cut. The single-pass method ensures clean edges, though it is not recommended for foam thicker than 1/2", as it will become difficult to move the blade through the material smoothly. Using the sharpest blade possible is important for the single-pass method, as dull knives may snag once you get into the core of the material. To make the cut, make sure the foam is anchored at the beginning of the cut to prevent the material from puckering under pressure. Start cutting from an outside edge if possible and do not stop cutting once you have begun.
Multiple-Pass Cutting Method
For closed-cell foam with a thickness greater than 1/2", pulling the blade through the material in a single pass becomes almost impossible. Trying to do so can leave sloppy or snagged cuts. Fortunately, the multiple-pass cutting method gets the job done well on thick sheets of closed-cell foam. Using a straight edge that runs the full length of the cut is the most important aspect of this strategy, as they will need to follow a guideline as one makes multiple slices through the foam.
Once the cutting line is made clear and the straight edge is in place, start cutting exactly like in the single-pass method. Rather than plunging the blade all the way through the foam, only make cuts that are about 1/8" to 1/4" of the way through; just sufficient for keeping the blade moving with no force applied. It is also very crucial that each shallow cut runs the full length of the foam. Continue making these long, shallow strokes along the straight-edge, cutting deeper each pass through. This is done until one has fully sliced all through the sheet.
One of the most regularly used closed-cell foams, polyethylene, has a wide range of densities that affect the material's firmness, cell size, and flexibility. In the lowest densities, it has a varying, bubbly cell structure, affecting cutting clean edges. Because of this, it is proposed not to use scissors when cutting polyethylene. The same steps should be followed for single-pass cutting on sheets with a thickness greater than 1/2" and make use of the multi-cut method for thicker pieces of polyethylene foam.
When to Choose Closed Cell Foam?
Without a doubt, closed cell foam insulation is a go-to product if one is looking for structural integrity, energy efficiency, and water resistance, and it also has some other advantages besides those mentioned. The sheer density of the closed cells enables it to insulate the property to an incredibly high standard – much more so than traditional insulation materials like polyester, polyethylene fibers, or foil.
Closed Cell Foam Density - Closed cell foam insulation has an extremely dense cellular composition.
Water Impermeability – Water is also prevented from passing through by this cellular composition. This makes it an effective solution for damp and moisture problems.
Moisture - Closed cell foam prevents moisture growth because of its water-impervious composition, which increases the property’s lifespan.
Currents - This type of insulation can effectively reduce convective currents in walls and roofs.
Quality of Air - The air quality on your property dramatically improves with closed cell insulation, because its close density can block out any toxins, dust, and prevent the growth of mold and moisture.
Chapter 2: Types of Closed Cell Foam
The different types of closed cell foam include:
This type of closed-cell foam is firm foam but has a slightly softer feel as compared to polyurethane foam. EVA foam is flexible in that it may change shape but immediately springs right back into place. This makes the foam suitable for padding on sporting equipment, helmets, shin guards, knee pads, hot tub insulation, and boating bumpers.
This is the squishiest form of closed cell foams. The foam is a closed-cell foam, but the true texture of the foam may look like an open-cell. It is flexible in nature, making it ideal for use where a high give will be recovered. This kind of foam absorbs sound well and therefore is suitable for use as acoustic insulation. It is often used as mattress toppers and hot tub covers.
This type of foam has a medium firmness. It is rubbery in texture and relatively easy to use in different industries. The foam is often used to make boat cushions, yoga mats, camping pads, and life preservers. This type is suitable for use in marine applications because of the water-repelling nature of the foam.
Closed cell foam can be made into polyethylene rolls. When used in rolls, even though it can still be effective for certain purposes, it is less effective in thinner rolls as compared to the durability and strength of thicker versions. Closed durability cell foam roll is usually used for piping and plumbing purposes, medical supplies and other health care products, automotive, and sports products. They are found in a variety of types, shapes, and thicknesses.
This type of form is also thick and sturdy, which is beneficial as it has numerous applications. Besides being air, water, and stain-resistant, lt is also resistant to mold and mildew. Cross-linked polyethylene has an advantage in that it has a good appearance compared to other foams, making it a favorable option for packaging branded products. This type is usually used for packaging, construction uses, and floatation devices.
Difference Between Cross-Linked and Non-Crosslinked Foam
Cross-linked foam has a finer and more uniform, regimental cellular structure. Non-cross-linking means that the polymer chains will not be linked to one another. It is easier to manipulate, recyclable, and less abrasive. Both are waterproof, are also closed cell foams, and provide more or less similar benefits.
Difference Between Open Cell and Closed Cell Foam
The differences between open cell foam and closed cell foam include:
Cells Make Up - A spray insulation can be termed open cell or closed cell because of the difference between the small bubbles that make up the foam. Open cell foam is made up of cells that are not completely encapsulated. That is, the cells are deliberately left open to make the foam softer and bring flexibility to the material. Closed cell foam is created by cells that are completely closed. The cells are pressed together, so moisture and air will not get access to get inside the foam. Closed cell foam is more stable and rigid than open cell foam because of this.
Density - Closed cell foam is more dense than open cell foam. Generally, open cell foam usually has a density of .5 pounds per cubic foot. Closed cell foam can be three times more than that, with a density of 1.75 pounds per cubic foot or more.
Expansion - This is one of the most crucial differences from an application point of view. Closed cell foam is designed to expand to about 1 inch of thickness when sprayed. To achieve higher total R-values, multiple applications can be applied, with each inch offering an R-value of 7. Open cell foam is designed to expand to 3 inches of thickness, meaning only one application is possible in most standard walls.
Air, Moisture, Liquid Resistance – Open cell foam is the type that absorbs water and takes water inside its tiny cell whereas, in closed cell foam, it does not absorb water and keeps water out on the surface. The spaces in the open cell foam intersect each other, forming pathways through the solid. Closed cell foam comprises individual closed areas, so liquid and air cannot penetrate this type of foam. These two types of foams have distinguished performances in face of the water, moisture, air, water, and other liquids due to their foam structures.
Material Cost - Open cell foam usually involves the use of material that costs less. A well-known open cell foam material is reticulated polyurethane foam and polyurethane foam. Partly due to their low cost, they are mostly utilized in carpet underlayment, seat cushion furniture upholstery, and foam filters. Whilst closed cell foam usually provides better performance on insulation and durability, it also leads to a higher material cost.
Sound Insulation and Thermal Insulation - Considering heat insulation, closed cell foam materials can generally outperform open cell foam materials. Closed cell foams have lower thermal conductivity for example Polyethylene foam, therefore they have a variety of uses like flooring and roofing insulation. Meanwhile, open cell foams offer more excellent sound absorption than closed cell foam. As they have many tiny open cell structures, this makes them very effective and powerful and effective to take in lots of external noise or sound.
Different Applications - Open cell foams are soft and compressible. Foams that consist of open cells act as good insulating air entrapments inside the cells. Foams that consist of open cells such as sponge dish brush, can absorb liquid in their cells. Closed cell foams can provide more structural rigidity, and because the cells are closed, the cells can be filled with gasses other than air during the process of manufacturing. Closed cell foams can be utilized to prevent air or water from moving from one area to another. Also, open cell foam is sometimes used for its absorption qualities, particularly for sponges. Open cell foam can also be utilized in different insulation applications due to its low-cost value. Open cell foam can also be used for shock absorbers, sound dampers, pillows, and cushioning. Closed cell foam is usually used in flotation devices because its closed cell structure does not allow for the absorption of water and trapped air is energetic. The use of closed cell foam is common in applications requiring resistance to water like mats, neoprene, insulation, and gaskets. Its density is greater than that of open cell foam and its production is more expensive.
Spray Foam: Closed Cell or Open-Cell?
The suspended bubbles shield in open-cell foam is a little bit more prone to moisture vapor than its closed cell counterpart, due to its thin structure.
Closed cell insulation spray foam consists of a similar composition, but an insulating gas is used to fill the bubbles, making it denser.
The property’s energy efficiency is increased in both types of foam insulation. The primary difference is that the installation of open-cell is cheaper, as a higher level of insulation is offered by closed cell foam density.
Regardless of its relative ease of use, the spray foam pressed insulation is left to be best installed by expert technicians.
Choosing Correct Foam Materials
When choosing the correct foam material for a respective application, it is important to consider the following aspects:
Is waterproof foam required? Choose the closed cell foam.
If in need of an excellent soundproof foam? Consider open cell foam.
If working with a limited budget for foam? First consider open cell Polyurethane foam, if it is workable.
Is foam with excellent thermal insulation required? Go for closed cell foam.
Is foam with excellent durability and resilience needed? Consider closed cell foam rubber.
Chapter 3: Applications and Benefits of Closed Cell Foam
This chapter will discuss the applications and benefits of closed cell foam.
Applications of Closed cell Foam
Closed cell foam is quite useful for a lot of applications that require moisture and shock resistance, heat, and sound insulation.
It is used as a means of custom foam protective packaging which is used to safely store and present fragile tools, jewelry, and electronics.
They offer excellent protective cushioning, moisture, and air resistance as well, which stops the moisture from gathering inside the package, making it the best choice to safely store delicate machinery for a longer period of time.
Used for sealing and insulation for construction and in buildings.
The appliances and HVAC system
Utilized in the absorption of shock as well as thermal insulation
Used in the seals of enclosures and cabinets
Used for medical disposables
Used in the equipment of oil and gas
Suitable in Aerospace and aircraft
Can be used for packaging
Used where there is a need for surface protection
Used to make archery targets
Low-cost furniture upholsterers
Used in interior design projects
Suitable Sound proofing for buildings
Closed Cell Foam Insulation Application Areas
Spray foam closed cell insulation is sustainable and durable, and this makes it the ideal insulation solution for commercial properties. Because it has a more robust nature than its open-cell insulation counterpart, it is a perfect suit for:
Basements and Crawl Spaces
Application in Exterior Areas
Benefits of Closed Cell Foam
Extremely reliable and helpful to be used in both interior and exterior environments.
Helpful in increasing the structural strength.
For providing heat insulation and sound they are the best.
Reduce the vapor transmission effectively.
Is a major moisture barrier.
Resistance to leakages.
They are the best choice to be used for insulation where there is an issue of space.
The rigid nature of closed cell foam also adds to the building’s structural integrity.
The closed cell also acts as a vapor barrier, so moisture and water will be less likely to get inside the home, and the foam will remain unharmed by water damage.
Closed cell foam pores have the ability to clean themselves (self-clean). This automatically helps in avoiding glazing.
Though the material is light but strong this makes it tear-resistant, making closed cell foams more long-lasting and durable.
Closed cell foam is more rigid and tougher. Due to the greater rigidity, closed cell foam maintains its shape for longer.
Have excellent insulation properties. As closed cell foams are waterproof due to their compact cellular structure they can act as air barriers and by doing so provide good insulation properties.
Have an improved coefficient of friction.
Closed cell foam is resistant to tear and also exhibits superb strength.
Has varying degrees of hardness yet it is much lighter than solids.
It is non-porous and in turn less permeable to liquids and air.
Drawbacks of Closed Cell Foam
The form has lower shock absorption as compared to open cell foams.
They have higher densities than open cell foams and can break too.
Have lower breathability than open cell foams.
The material used to produce together with the overall cost make it expensive.
Will not fill smaller holes - Because the closed cell foam is firm and rigid, it has a reduced ability to fill every cavity when it is small. It is more of a rigid glue than a gap filler.
Maintenance of Closed Cell Foam
One can try using the foam cleanser to clean that one used for doing the car interiors, or those spot treatments of carpet. Closed cell foam is impervious to heavy acid, and detergents so may provide a way to get them clean without replacing and using a Scotch pad.
Closed cell foam is made by applying a gas, like nitrogen, to a plastic or rubber compound that is under high pressure. The foam can be made by exposing it to the gas directly, or by adding gas-forming agents into the material. Closed cell foam has air trapped in its cells, making it resilient, strong, impact resistant, and buoyant. The uses and applications:
Water and airtight seals
Packaging and protection
Lightweight void fillers
The merits of using closed cell foam outweigh the demerits. There are different techniques used to cut the form which are: the single-pass cutting method and the multi-pass cutting method. They are different types of closed cell foam namely volara, EVA, and polyethylene foams to mention only a few. It can be found in different colors and thicknesses. They can be used indoors and outdoors and are also suitable for domestic and industrial purposes. They are relatively cheap.
It is possible to recycle polyethylene foam. It is possible to melt down the polythene foam and reform it the same way used on other plastic materials. Standard polyethylene foam is not resistant to fire, it can burn if in direct contact with flames. However, it will burn if it’s subjected to very high temperatures or if it is put in flames.
Closed-cell spray foam insulation consists of cells that are enclosed and securely packed together, as different in open-cell spray foam. Of all insulating materials found on the market, closed-cell spray foam insulation exhibits one of the highest R-values because of its extraordinarily high density. This makes it fall among the most energy-efficient choices available.
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