Are EPO & EPP Types of Foam?

Using EPO and EPP foam in a model airplane can help prevent damage if it crashes.
Using EPO and EPP foam in a model airplane can help prevent damage if it crashes. (Image: Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

There are many different types of foam available on the market today, and each type of foam has their own characteristics. EPO and EPS are acronyms that describes different types of foam. EPO stands for Expanded Polyolefin and EPP stands for Expanded Polypropylene. Both types of foam are commonly used to make model airplanes, but they have different characteristics.

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Thermoplastics

Expanded polyolefin and expanded polypropylene are both types of thermoplastics. Thermoplastics are products that are able to turn to liquid when heated and turn to a solid when cooled. They are used for many things since they can be reheated to be reshaped. Polyolefins are the largest type of thermoplastics. The two most commonly known types of polyolefins are polyethylene and polypropylene.

Expanded Polyolefin

EPO is a molded plastic foam material that is created by engineering polyolefin into small beads and then using heat to mold it into different shapes. EPO is very durable and tough. It is commonly used in making model airplanes and automobile parts, because it is very resilient to damage. When EPO is impacted, it has the ability to return to it's normal shape. Because of the polymer structure of EPO, it has an oily finish to it's outer coating.

Expanded Polypropylene

EPP is in the polyolefin family of thermoplastics. It comes in sheets of different densities. EPP is known for it's high durability, but it is higher in cost than some other types of foam. EPP has similar characteristics as EPO, but it is more elastic and flexible. It can be bent and molded into shapes without breaking. EPP is a lighter foam than EPO. This characteristic makes it preferred over other types of foam, especially when building model airplanes.

Uses for EPO and EPP

Expanded polyolefin and expanded polypropylene both have many uses. They are both commonly used for making model airplanes, because they both are lightweight materials that have the ability to withstand crashes. When a model airplane built out of these materials takes a nose dive into the ground, chances are the nose of the plane will retain it's original shape. EPO and EPP are also found in the manufacturing of automobiles, since automobile companies are searching for affordable products that can be mass produced at a low cost. These types of foam are also used for packaging materials and food containers.

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