How to Make Hydrophobic Foam

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One of the most valuable discoveries in the world of upholstered furniture has been the development of hydrophobic foam. The name sounds quirky, but the definition is easy to understand: Hydrophobic foam is synthetic foam rubber impregnated with water repelling agents added during the manufacturing process so every molecule of the finished product repels liquid. If you're a person who loves to construct every facet of a project - from fitting boats with cushioned benches to creating your own car seats from start to finish - you'll want to challenge yourself to try molding your own waterproofed foam. You'll get extra bragging rights, add another skill to your repertoire and as a bonus, the next time someone spills a drink on your bench or chair, you can take your own sweet time cleaning it up.

Things You'll Need

  • Latex base
  • Foaming agent
  • Curing agent
  • Latex color additive
  • Gelling agent
  • Silicone foam
  • Measuring cups
  • Food mixer (not used for food)
  • Oven (not used to cook food)
  • Mix a standard latex base with a foaming agent according to package directions.

  • Add curing and coloring ingredients in direct proportion to the amount of base prepared in step one.

  • Whip the mixture into a synthesized compound for several minutes using an industrial grade mixer (times vary and should be followed as per label instructions).

  • Add liquid asphalt to the mixture (this is the waterproofing agent).

  • Add gelling agents as a final step. The finished product should be malleable enough to pour into molds that have been sprayed with silicone-based oil.

  • Bake the foam shapes in an oven. The size of the foam shapes will determine baking times, so consult directions before placing the molds into the heating units.

  • Allow the foam shapes to cool and harden before removing them from their molds.

Tips & Warnings

  • Today's hydrophobic product is sufficiently advanced to pass stringent water rejection tests. General Motors and the Ford Motor Company have subjected car seats to water that stood for 60 and 90 minutes each during which time there was no permeation. The ultimate goal for hydrophobic foam is the ability to resist standing liquid for 24 hours.
  • You might be surprised to learn that hydrophobic foam is commonly found in carpet underlayment, acoustical tiles, textiles and certain types of seals and gaskets. The foam industry continues to work to improve hydrophobic foam manufacture that is as safe as it is effective. Some of the best and safest formulas for producing hydrophobic foam have been pioneered by Japan's NHK Spring Co., Ltd. They used castor oil as a binding agent to created a denser, more stable product.
  • Asphalt solvent, the agent that permeates the foam mix and makes it waterproof, can be volatile and cause lumpy or misshapen results, as well as producing a higher level of toxicity than foam not treated with asphalt. Be careful when working with these agents.
  • Professionals have tried adding an asphalt agent earlier in the mixing process, but the results have not been as safe and satisfying as they have when the asphalt is added late in the process, just before adding the gelling agent.

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