Have you ever wondered how people get such cool shapes out of soft, cushioning foam? The answer is flexible polyurethane foam, a substance that expands as it cures but can be compressed, cut, or shaped to meet a variety of needs.
What Is Polyurethane Foam?
To understand why this foam is so useful, it helps to know what polyurethane foam is; it is a polymer that results from a chemical combination of polyols and isocyanates, resulting in a flexible and moldable substance that can be compressed but still holds its shape.
How Is It Used?
Flexible polyurethane foam is very useful, so useful that over 1.5 billion pounds of it are produced each year, for use in everything from office products to movie costumes. Some of the more common uses include:
- Automotive interiors
- Office furniture
- Air filtration system membranes
During the cutting process, scraps of polyurethane foam are cut away. Instead of just throwing away these scraps, the scraps are salvaged and bonded together to form something that you probably walk on every day, bonded carpet cushioning that is installed to provide comfort and padding for carpets.
Since it is such a compressible substance, over the years some more novel uses have occurred. For example, special effects studios learned that polyurethane foam can be used to make masks and costumes for monsters or characters in movies, since the foam can be molded and remain flexible at the same time. After the molding, the foam is easily cut and shaped to get just the right effect.
The foam can be used for fun, too. Ever experienced those foam pits as a kid? You guessed it — those are cubes or squares cut from slabs of polyurethane foam.
One of the most popular trends in mattresses uses polyurethane foam — the memory foam mattress. The cool part isn't that you can get it for your home; no, it is that it was actually developed to cushion astronauts during the massive acceleration during a space launch.
All of these applications are great, but what is something that you would use it for around your house? There is one more cool thing about this type of foam. Because it can expand and it can be compressed and sprayed, you can use it to fill gaps that would be difficult to fill otherwise. Yes, you can buy cans of expanding polyurethane foam at your local hardware store and spray that foam into hard-to-reach places to seal cracks or crevices that let in (or out) heat or unwanted critters
There are so many cool uses for flexible expandable polyurethane foam. Whether you are a manufacturer, a costume designer, or a homeowner, chances are you use or will use polyurethane foam. Contact a company that sells flexible expanding foam to learn more.