What Is Structural Foam?

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Structural foam is a material that is created when polymers are injected with a gas. The type of gas used depends on the type of polymer and the type of final product. Several types of plastic polymers that are commonly used including high density polyethylene, HDPE, polypropylene, PP, Polyvinyl Chloride, PVC and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, ABS to name a few.

Structural Foam vs Styrofoam

  • There are many clear differences between structural foam and more commonly used Styrofoam. Structural foam is smooth and can look solid. Styrofoam is made from styrene beads, rather than melted polymers. These beads are often evident even after final manufacture.

Structural Foam Molding

  • The polymer and gas mix can be blown into a mold and made into virtually any shape imaginable. After curing, the foam can be cut, sanded, or shaped. Many everyday tools are made from molded structural foam such as broom and brush handles, and even patio furniture.

Structural Foam Spray

  • Because the gas and polymer are sprayed at the same time, spray foam is extremely versatile. The polyurethane used in spray foam can be combined with additives to make the material rigid or soft to the touch. Higher density foam is sprayed onto forms to add structural strength in airplane wings or boat hulls.

Structural Foam Insulation

  • Foam is a common insulating material. Structural foam has advantages over other insulating materials. Because it is less porous than other foams, Structural foam is water resistant. This foam is more rigid and can lend support to other building material. Depending on the thickness and the polymer used, these materials can not only absorb sound, but also radio and microwaves.

Structural Foam Blocks

  • Blended with concrete, structural foam can be used to provide strong, lightweight blocks. Walls built with this material are natural sound barriers and insulating. Unlike solid concrete, the foam blocks can be cut with a standard saw.

Environmental Concerns

  • While many of the chemicals used to create Structural foam can be dangerous, this material can still be beneficial to the environment. Structural foam can be made out of recycled materials saving room in landfills. Also, because foam can be as much as 40 percent lighter than its fully plastic counterpart, it saves transportation costs.

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  • Photo Credit tex_foam image by Sergey Tokarev from Fotolia.com
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