Open Cell Foam
Open cell foam is a lightweight, spongy, soft foam in which the cell
walls or surfaces of the bubbles are broken and air fills all of the
spaces in the material. This makes the foam soft and weak. Open cell
foams are incredibly effective as sound barriers, having about twice the
sound resistance as closed cell foam. Open cell foam is used for
industries such as residential construction which uses this foam as an
insulator and sound barrier.
Open cell foam is foam material in which the cells or bubbles of the polymer are interconnected and do not maintain sealed and separate compartments. Compared to closed cell foam, the other main type of foam, open cell foam is more permeable to moisture vapor and provides less resistance to pressure, allowing it to be used when softness and conformability are required. Different types of open cell foam include open cell polyurethane, open cell polyester, open cell polyamide. Air typically fills the spaces within the open cells, making open cell foam an excellent thermal insulation provider. The insulation value is related to the specifications of the cell alignment within the foam. Foam materials are synthetically produced and as such can vary widely in terms of density, porosity, size and thickness. Open cell foam is widely used in construction and residential applications to provide thermal barriers to improve the quality of air within a space. Using insulation foam also lowers energy costs and HVAC requirements, and can additionally provide air filtration from unwanted particles. Other common uses of open cell foam materials include in automotive and furniture seating as foam cushioning, as foam padding for mattresses, recreational equipment and appliances, as packaging material, sponges and scrubbers and medical foam.
As foam is a widely versatile material and can be fabricated to suit any number of applications, there are important specifications to consider when determining the best type and size to use. Density, tensile strength, temperature, thermal conductivity, abrasiveness and compressibility are factors which vary with type of foam and can directly affect the results of the material’s use. Foam also tends to break down over time, especially if it is exposed to frequent wear and tear. Therefore it will need to be replaced at some stage in almost every application. Open cell foam is a less dense material than closed cell foam and so tends to be a more cost-effective solution for many foam applications. However, due to its tendency to soak up and retain water, open cell foam cannot be used for many of the floatation and buoyancy uses for which closed cell foam is so popular. Reticulated foam, which is open cell foam with very interconnected cells and high porosity levels, is an ideal material for applications in which retention and large surface areas are desired such as filtering materials, fuel tank inserts and loudspeaker covers. Open cell foam is able to trap particles and unwanted elements while allowing the passage of air and/or liquids.
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Image Provided by Wisconsin Foam Products, Inc.