Foam sheet is a wonderful polymer and available in many designs, shapes and sizes. There are quite a few verities of this product, each suitable for different application like packaging, art and craft and manufacturing of cushions and mattresses.
Different kinds of sheet foams have different characteristics that make them valuable for varied industries. The most common uses of different forms of foam include insulation, sound absorption, packaging and shape retention.
One common characteristic of all foam sheets is that they are all good insulators. Though they are not as voluminous as fiberglass and occupy less space than the latter, they offer better insulation. Of the many varieties, polyurethane sheets make the best insulators. However, they are quite expensive when compared to the other two main varieties of foam, namely Convoluted and Styrofoam.
Like any other foam sheet, convoluted foam is very helpful for packaging applications. Because of its anti-static properties, it’s frequently used for packing of electronic items like computers and other electronic devices using high technology. Additionally, this kind of foam also known as memory foam is widely used for making cushions for sofas and recliners. It’s called memory foam because of its ability to retain or remember the body shape of the user. Simply put, it means that after a while this foam automatically takes the exact posture of its occupier, making it remarkably relaxing and comfortable. Because of this characteristic, it is widely used for mattresses and cushions used in hospitals as it helps preventing bed sores and ulcers.
Another very useful feature of memory foam is its capacity to absorb noise. If you closely observe this foam you’ll see it has tiny conical structures like that of a cardboard egg tray. This kind of design is useful in fitting closely and absorbing sound waves that hit it directly. So, if noise reduction is an issue, you can apply a layer of this foam on the walls of your room.
As already pointed out, this kind of foam too has excellent insulation characteristics. Despite their being excellent insulators, each variety of foam has its own limitations, meaning that insulation may fail under certain conditions. Compared to other varieties, Styrofoam sheets come with minimum limitations, and therefore provide the best possible insulation. Nevertheless, this variety of foam is most widely used in packaging industry.
Styrofoam sheets with varying composition are being tried frequently. Different composition imparts it different characteristics, making it useful for specific applications. Styrofoam sheets are vastly used in art and craft sector. Most craft projects necessarily require using these sheets.
As Styrofoam sheets have many useful properties and come handy for craft purposes, these can easily be reused for making some unconventional items that can be displayed in the house. If you happen to have too much of it, you may store its small pieces in a box and reuse it for packing other items.
The world's most renowned brand of extruded polystyrene insulating material is Styrofoam™. Those connected with the construction industry often refer to it as the “blue bird” due its typical light blue color. The foam products from this company come with varying compression strengths to fulfill different structural requirements. They have excellent R-values that signify their high resistance to heat flow.
Styrofoam™ Brand foam products are manufactured by a company called Dow, which innovated the process of extruding polystyrene for making moisture-resistant closed-cell foam. The final product had exceptional floating characteristics. Within a year of having being invented the material was exploited for making a six-man life raft. Another outstanding characteristic of this material is its exceptional insulating capacity, which enables it to maintain a constant temperature within a structure, irrespective of the outside temperature. Almost seventy years after it was developed, this innovative item from Dow is recognized as the most accepted polystyrene product for building insulation.
One of the legendry insulation materials from this manufacturer is the Styrofoam™ Brand HIGHLOAD series made to withstand compressive creep and fatigue. It offers remarkable thermal resistance for high load applications. These polystyrene products have compression strengths of 40, 60, and 100 PSI at 5% compression. HIGHLOAD 100 comes with a thickness of 2" thick, while HIGHLOAD 40 and HIGHLOAD 60 have a thickness of 2" and 3" respectively.
The Styrofoam™ Brand also produces a complete range of other insulation products with inimitable properties, which make them appropriate for specific construction applications. Projects demanding long-term thermal resistance and compressive strength, largely depend upon Styrofoam™ Brand HIGHLOAD series foam products.
For most consumers it is difficult to distinguish between different kinds of plastics, mostly being petroleum products. Many a time we feel that a particular item is made from "Styrofoam”, but in fact it is not so. Styrofoam (TM) items of daily use are made from extruded polystyrene foam (XPS). For example, the disposable cups used for serving coffee are made from expanded polystyrene or EPS, which is totally different from XPS.
Styrofoam (TM) is the trademark of the Dow Chemical Company ever since 1941. Initially, it was discovered by Swedish inventor Carl Georg Munters, following which a team of Dow researchers headed by Ray McIntire "rediscovered" the material and created a way for its mass production. Its insulating characteristics, water resistance properties and buoyancy prompted the US Coast Guard to make six-person life rafts in 1942.
At present, XPS foam is most frequently used for thermal insulation of walls, floors and roof systems. Made in large light blue panels, Styrofoam™ boards are usually referred to as "blue boards" by people associated with construction industry. Because of their closed cell foam structure, these boards are extremely resistant to dampness and outside temperature, encouraging their use for construction, as also for providing better thermal insulation to systems as compared to expanded polystyrene panels.
Apart from being used as construction material, certain crafts also employ XPS foam. There, it is not employed in the form of wide, sturdy panels, but takes the shape of balls, spheres, blocks and cones etc. Even when it’s not used for non-industrial applications, there are many features of extruded polystyrene foam that make it superior to EPS foam for industrial uses.
The most important characteristics of polystyrene foam that encourages its use for construction insulation are its light weigh and water resistance. The closed unit arrangement provides the means for the polystyrene foam to achieve a very high value of R. The R-value determines the capacity of an element to resist heat. The higher the value of R, the more is the ability of the material to resist heat.
Ideal insulation is one that doesn’t allow heat of the room to escape or outside air to enter the room, thus helping to maintain the room temperature nearly constant, meaning that in winters the room remains warm whereas, in summers it remains cold. This helps to reduce load on the heating or cooling device, and as a result your energy bills are reduced.
To reach that level of insulation there should be no gaps for the inside air to escape or the outside air to enter the room. Polystyrene foam insulation nearly seals all the gaps, is water resistant and quite strong. As it’s water resistant, it prevents formation of mildew, and thus lasts longer, reducing its maintenance expense too.
Styrofoam comes in the form of panels that are arranged on the external walls or fixed to the outer edge of constructions. The foam can be coated with quite a few elements to get a particular appearance like granite or such like mineral. Beam could distort the polystyrene foam insulation. To eliminate this trouble, the foam needs to be arranged with an obstructing material for providing protection.
Styrofoam insulation is also exploited for the purpose of ground and roofing insulation. It may even be set up in cottages. After it has been positioned on roofing element, other elements can be laid over it. Subsequently, grits can be installed therein.