With a versatility that makes it the perfect product for a multitude of projects, polyethylene foam sheet is one of the most used but least recognized packing foam sheets on the market. While polystyrene is known for its use in cups and insulation and polyurethane with its soft touch is something everyone is familiar with, polyethylene is often a forgotten material. From packaging and protection devices, to masonry supplies and dampers every day, whether we realize it or not.
What is Polyethylene Foam?
Polyethylene is a closed cell foam, which means that its structure is made up of millions of tiny bubbles, sealed together. This provides water resistance as well as strength and stiffness not present in open cell foams. It is also resistant to solvents, petroleum products, and is also antimicrobial, inhibiting the growth of mold, mildew and bacteria.
An elastic material, polyethylene reshapes itself after compression, while still performing well enough to provide cushioning and safety where it is needed. It is these features, combined with its versatility and customization capabilities, that make it useful in so many applications.
Formed from the heating of polymeric compounds, polyethylene foam can be formulated with additives to alter its properties before being heated and extruded in its solid state form. This means that in addition to the standard polyethylene sheet foam, there are also antistatic and fire retardant varieties of the product.
With the additives included in the formula, the characteristics are consistent throughout the material, unlike the treatments added after the foam has been created. Like other foams, it is also available in different densities for different applications. The higher the density of the polyethylene, the smaller and / or thicker the cell walls are, creating a stronger material.
The antistatic properties help polyethylene foam in packaging, handling and transport of delicate electronic products, by dissipating electrostatic charges that can accumulate and damage components. This material is widely used by well-known packaging suppliers such as BlueRose Packaging.
There are different values and degrees of fire resistance in foam, but generally speaking, fire retardant foam resists heat and flames to some degree, and may have the potential to self-extinguish once ignited, unlike untreated materials.
Polyurethane as an insulating material
These are most often seen in insulation materials and in construction. In addition, some polyethylene foams are characterized by these two characteristics for highly specialized jobs, such as in sensitive machinery or building structures.
In addition to the performance characteristics that polyethylene can possess, the material is also available in multiple shapes and sizes. Most commonly seen in sheet or board form, polyethylene has a stiffness that holds its shape when cut into thick sections.
These are most often used as insulating materials or in custom housings and packaging as, in addition to being strong and shock absorbing, polyethylene can also be easily cut to create form-fitting inserts to safely move or transport items. Closed cell foam insulation is excellent at resisting moisture and polyethylene in particular is often used as a thermal insulation material.
The polyethylene sheet is also easily laminated to create thicker sections that can then be cut for furniture inserts, personal flotation device inserts, or specialized packaging. Additionally, the support rod polyethylene tubing is manufactured in a variety of diameters for varied use.