The Three Forms of Foam

3 Forms of Foam

Unless you’re brand new to our page, you’ll know by now that we’re big fans of foam. We fabricate it, we shape it, we design it, and we recycle it, too! Here at Sterling, we manufacture a few different kinds of foam for all sorts of different purposes, but do you know the difference between the big three forms of foam? Lucky for you, that’s what we’re here to talk about today, so read on if you’d like to know about our three favorite foams: Expandable Polystyrene, Polyurethane, and Polyethylene. 

First up, we have Expandable Polystyrene foam (EPS). It’s made of small, round beads, expanded by steam heat, which are poured into a mold to solidify into the block of EPS foam that we know and love. Expandable Polystyrene foam is lightweight but very sturdy, and has multiple different uses, including packaging dunnage, floatation devices, and insulation. EPS can be easily shaped into protective packaging uses like crating, pile welding, and pallet manufacturing, as well stage props, crown molding, and concrete forming. For these reasons and more, EPS is the foam of choice, especially due to its moisture-proof perks and low cost. 

Next, we have Polyurethane foam (PU), an open-cell foam available in different densities, colors, and specialized forms (anti-static and anti-abrasive for more specific applications). PU has two different types: Polyether and Polyester. Polyether PU foam is just about everywhere– mattresses, shoes, car seats, and sofa cushions all have this kind of foam making up part of its production. It’s mainly used in bedding and furniture cushions, but it’s also present in carpet underlay and protective packaging. Polyester PU foam, on the other hand, is the superior foam for multiple reasons. With higher strength, stretch, and tensile strength, sometimes even twice as high as polyether, polyester foam is used for medical applications and gasketing. Polyester PU foam is also present in makeup sponges and other fashion accessories!

Last, but certainly not least, we have polyethylene foam (PE). This kind of foam is available in two different styles: extruded, meaning the full sheet is manufactured in one piece, and laminated, meaning the sheets reach desired thickness by layering several sheets together to make one. PE foam is the workhorse of the packaging industry; with several different types available and the ability to be manufactured and produced in various ways, PE foam is primarily present in packaging components for electronic items like PC parts, printers, monitors, and hard drives.

You have the packaging needs, we have the foam! Sterling is ready to help you bring any sort of dream into a reality when it comes to foam manufacturing. Want to learn more about the different forms of foam and how they’re applied in our workplace? Check out our website for more information, or contact us today; we’d be happy to talk foam with you.


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