Molded foam is polymer foam formed via a molding process, such as injection molding, compression molding, reaction injection molding or centrifugal molding.
Molded foam has applications in a wide range of industries, including: sports and recreation, lawn and garden, automotive manufacturing, footwear and comfort, food processing, construction office, outdoors, mining and bath.
Manufacturers can mold polymer foam, such as urethane foam or polyethylene foam, into a wide variety of products, such as: molded foam sheets, bumpers, conveyor bushings, conveyor wheels, pneumatic seals, knee pads, helmet lining, mats and countless other products.
When designing your product, manufacturers consider factors like: application environment, required impact resistance, required chemical resistance, required impermeability and more. Based on your application specifications, they can pick a material and a molding method. Each molding method has something a little different to offer.
Injection molding, for example, is inexpensive and capable of producing high volumes of high tolerance, complex parts. Unfortunately, though, the cost of cooling injection dies is quite high in comparison with the rest of the process. Also, the parts often require secondary processing after molding.
Compression molding, on the other hand, generally eliminates the need for secondary processing. It can also produce parts with large cross sections. However, compression molding is often expensive.
Reaction injection molding is unique in that it completes curing while the foam is still inside the mold. The foam, which is first mixed with additives (catalysts, polyols, surfacents, blowing agents, etc.) reaches the mold after manufacturers inject it as a liquid. Once the liquid polymer is inside the mold, manufacturers use an impinging mixer to pressurize it and give it its final shape. This type of foam molding creates lightweight and strong products, has low tooling costs and requires less clamping force than other molding processes. Its only real drawback is the fact that it has higher than normal raw material costs and high cycle times.
Centrifugal molding involves rotating the polymer material on an axis, where it’s exposed to centrifugal forces that help shape it. Manufacturers use centrifugal molding to create products with large cross sections. It, however, is more time consuming than the other foam molding methods.
Whatever method your manufacturers choose to make it, molded foam is an excellent investment for many customers. To find out if molded foam is right for you, consult with one or more of the many molded foam manufacturers listed on this page.