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Merryweather Foam Blog

Since 1948, we have been industry leaders in fabricating unique, foam components for customers in the medical, sound absorption, automotive, and unique packaging industries. At Merryweather Foam, we pride ourselves on our ability to combine experience, innovation, and excellent customer service. We have the knowledge, manpower & equipment to help you get the job done. Visit our website to see our fabrication portfolio as well as our capabilities.

What Can Pressure Sensitive Adhesive Lamination Do For You?

When you need cushioning, you choose foam. The compressible yet resilient bubbles trapped in elastic material absorb shocks and vibration, giving it thousands of uses from packaging to upholstery. Foam comes in a wide range of materials and ranges from firm and heavy to soft and light. There's a foam to suit every application, but it does have limitations: it can be difficult to fit or install, and it may not have the desired final appearance or surface properties.

The way around these problems is to specify a pressure sensitive adhesive (PSA) lamination for your foam fabrication. 

Overview of PSA foam lamination:
"Lamination" refers to adding one or more layers to a sheet or roll of foam. There are two reasons you might do this:

  1. To create a composite of two or more materials, combining the properties of foam with a second material.
  2. To make it easier to attach foam to a surface or to other foam pieces.
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Custom Bagging and Assembly

Custom Packaging for ViaBuff

Here at Merryweather Foam, we have worked for the past 68 years perfecting the art of fabricating custom foam products for clients in many different industries. But there's a lot more to what we do other than manufacturing high quality foam components. We have a number of value added services that, at the end of the assembly line, make our final product something special, exclusively for a specific customer.

No two companies are exactly alike. We serve companies of all kinds, in all the major industries while taking great care to meet the unique needs of each and every one of our clients. For example, a client might need a specially designed carton with printed text and images then be taped shut, shrink-wrapped to skids and loaded onto a truck for blind shipment under the client's name to our client's customer at a specific location. This may seem like a difficult task, this kind of thing is right in our wheelhouse. We are ready to handle the entire process under one roof.

Custom Bagging and Assembly
After your purchase has been processed and packaged, we apply our specialized custom bagging and assembly operation to put the finishing touches on your package. From basic tags for small business inventory to a complete solution for placement in large retail venues, we can handle it. Whether your needs are for clean and dry storage or retail presentation, we provide you with all that you need, customized with your logo and pertinent information. From bulk to drop shipping, we create a fulfillment plan to meet your company's needs.

Serving A Wide Range of Applications Means Multiple Packaging Needs
Our clients use our foam products for so many sophisticated scientific, medical, and industrial purposes, it's difficult to quantify them in short article. But it makes good sense that with the broad range of properties these foams provide from variable densities, degrees of permeability and absorbency, to varying levels of radio conductivity- its easy to see why our products could find use in such a wide spectrum of sophisticated applications.

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Our Rogers Preferred Convertor Status - What It Means to You

We are proud to be a Rogers Corporation Preferred Converter

At Merryweather Foam, we are proud of the relationships we build with our customers and suppliers. We understand companies still do business with people, and we are proud of our knowledgeable and friendly team. Sometimes the results of these relationships are relatively invisible. Other times they result in tangible achievements.

Near the bottom of the Merryweather Foam website's home page, you'll see a series of logos and certifications. We are pleased to have earned the right to display these logos and are happy to share what they can mean to you, our customers and potential customers. One of those is a logo that designates Merryweather Foam as a Rogers Preferred Converter.

Who is the Rogers Corporation?

Rogers Corporation is one of the oldest material manufacturers in the United States. Founded in 1832, its roots are in paperboard manufacturing. Since then, Rogers has successfully evolved and adapted their products, technologies, and manufacturing presence to meet the demands of current and emerging markets. Among many other products, Rogers produces advanced foams for cushioning and protective sealing. Rogers is noted for their reliability, efficiency and performance.

What is the Benefit of Being a "Preferred Converter"?

By achieving Preferred Converter status of Rogers Corporation, Merryweather Foam can provide our customers quicker access to Rogers products at more affordable pricing. This allows us exceptional access to desired Rogers products like PORON® Urethane and BISCO® Silicone materials which are used in gaskets and sealing, impact and energy absorption and heat shielding. This positively impacts our customers using quality Rogers products by providing them with better access at the best pricing available.

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Tackling Automotive Challenges with Flexible Foam

Foam might be the ultimate problem-solving material. It's what auto industry engineers reach for to eliminate squeaks and rattles, to prevent fretting, absorb noise and seal interfaces. No driver ever boasted about the foam used in their car or truck, but without it the vehicle wouldn't feel as good, perform as well or last as long. As a leading fabricator of flexible foam, Merryweather is positioned to help automotive OEMs, Tier 1's, and beyond solve their problems. Read on to learn how precision-cut foam components and materials help build high quality vehicles.

Auto Industry Challenges
The auto industry is on a roll right now. 2015 saw record sales, and some are predicting an even better 2016, but car companies aren't getting complacent. It's a highly competitive industry facing an array of challenges, from EPA gas mileage mandates to customer satisfaction scores, warranty costs and recalls. Here are three issues keeping automotive engineers awake at night, and what foam can do to help.

  • Perceived Quality - Squeaks, rattles and vibrations might seem minor, but they have a big impact on how buyers feel about their vehicle and reflect in Consumer Reports and J.D. Powers rankings. Foam used between mating surfaces absorbs relative movement and prevents irritating noises. It can dampen vibrations and absorb transmitted sound, helping give occupants a sense of riding in a quality vehicle.
  • Fuel Economy Mandates - Refining engine technology and launching hybrids and pure electrics isn't going to be enough. Lightweighting is essential and automakers are moving as fast as they can, but risk reducing structural stiffness. More flex means more squeaks and rattles, and greater likelihood of water ingress. Correctly selected foam compresses and springs back, filling variable gaps and sealing effectively. Plus, foam is inherently a lightweight material.
  • Cost Control - Foam helps manufacturers address cost in three ways. First, by preventing problems like water ingress it helps bring down warranty costs and avoid recalls. Second, its ability to accommodate variable gaps grants designers greater freedom in tolerancing components, in turn reducing tooling costs and increasing yields. And third, used as a contact material in dunnage, it helps prevent scrap due to damage to Class A surfaces.

Automotive Applications
In cars and trucks foam is used primarily for comfort and cushioning, gasketing and sealing, and noise attenuation. Cushioning applications tend to be more form-in-place than foam fabrications. It's a specialized area with the materials being formed to shape and sometimes integrally bonded to surface materials. Although technically a foam application, the focus here is on flexible foam fabrications.

In terms of piece count, gasketing and sealing probably represents the largest usage category. Foam gaskets of various types are used on external body surfaces, under the hood and in the passenger compartment.

Around headlamp, tail lamp and CHMSL clusters foam gaskets prevent water ingress by filling gaps that vary as a result of manufacturing tolerances. Under mirrors, door handles and latches, and antenna mounts they stop hard plastic or metal components rubbing against paint and forming sites where corrosion can start. Under the hood foam locates and shields sensors and fluid reservoirs, reducing the transmission of vibration and providing EMI shielding. Internally, foam seals joints in HVAC ducting and insulates it from body structures. Airbag components are sealed with foam gaskets, as are occupant sensors and instrument or gauge clusters. It also makes an ideal gap filler between trim pieces.

Noise attenuation is the third usage category. By stopping parts from rubbing together, foam fabrications can deaden squeaks and rattles. Foam can also absorb noise transmitted through the structure and prevent it reaching the cabin.

Another big automotive use for foam is in dunnage. Custom formed foam dunnage, as described in "Polyethylene Foam: An Excellent Material for Automotive Dunnage Racks," is a great way of reducing losses due to marking of Class A surfaces in transit or while moving dunnage lineside.

Foam Properties and Selection
Perhaps foam was once selected on a trial and error basis – the engineer squeezing a piece into a gap and if it stopped the rattle, moving on to the next job – but it's not done that way today. Modern foams are as highly engineered as every other part of the vehicle, and come in a wide range of properties.

Density is a major concern, because that drives weight and influences performance. Denser foam is usually more robust and gives higher compression force deflection numbers, although density correlates poorly with firmness. In some applications feel is the primary concern, in others it's natural frequency.

Then there are the material properties. Foam used externally must resist water ingress, endure the rigors of the carwash, and withstand UV exposure without crumbling or cracking. Closed cell foams are generally selected when sealing is a priority, although the increased compression resistance can raise clamping loads. Inside and under the hood high temperatures can be a huge challenge, yet the same vehicle could also see bitter winter lows, so temperature ranges will be important.

When selecting foam for a particular application, it's essential to remember that it's not all the same. The decision should be made based on science and engineering, not "poke and hope!"

Foam Manufacturing Processes at Merryweather
Merryweather has foam fabrication equipment suitable for both low volume or sample production as well as long runs and high quantities.

Water jet and digital knife cutting are ideal processes for prototype development and pre-production samples. With no special-purpose tooling lead times are minimized and the machines can be programmed direct from the CAD files.

For volume production of gaskets it's hard to beat the efficiency and consistency of die cutting. Steel rule dies slice through thin foam sheets, producing excellent dimensional repeatability and good edge quality. Nesting gives excellent material utilization and "kiss-cutting" allows gaskets to be delivered on a roll for easy storage and peeled off when needed. Foam sheets can be given a pressure sensitive adhesive coating that eases application.

A Problem-Solving Material

Auto companies face an array of challenges, from lightweighting to improving perceived quality. What engineers need is a robust yet inexpensive material that takes up manufacturing tolerances, stops water penetration and prevents squeaks and rattles.

Flexible foam fabrications are ideal for addressing all these problems. A conversation with Merryweather will highlight the many ways in which carefully selected and shaped foam pieces can help. To learn more about Merryweather's automotive capabilities, contact us today!

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The Art of Roll Slitting

Ever bought foam weatherstripping or double-sided tape in individual lengths? Somehow it just doesn't work. You'd have to peel a backing strip off the pressure sensitive adhesive, there would be joins where you didn't want them, and you'd have all sorts of wasteful offcuts. That's why it's sold in rolls.

Rolls are a wonderful way of packing, transporting and using foam. Like bananas, they make their own outer skin, which makes them easy to move and reduces waste. And while hardware store rolls come in standard widths, here at Merryweather it's possible to get any width you want.

Like many manufacturing processes, roll slitting seems straightforward until you learn what it takes to produce consistent, high quality results. Here's your introduction to "The Art of Roll Slitting."

Why Slit?
Efficient manufacturing, whether of paper, cloth or foam, demands high volumes. To get the throughput, production lines are set up to make material in the widest possible widths. That's why rolls straight from the mill, loom or foam producer are usually at least 72" wide, sometimes much more.

Those rolls are convenient for shipping, distribution and storage, but for the end users, not so much. It depends on the application, but many want rolls that are somewhere between 1" and 6" wide. Getting to that width means slicing up the roll.

Slitting Processes
There are two ways of slitting wide rolls of material, rewind slitting and log slitting. Selecting the most appropriate depends on factors like the number of rolls needed, the type of material, and the edge quality sought.

Rewind Slitting
In the rewind process the roll is unwound and pulled through a series of blades before being, yes, rewound. Rewind slitting machines can take up a lot of room and have the problem that material is recoiled in the opposite direction to how it came off the roll. For some materials, like those with a pressure sensitive adhesive (PSA) on one side, that means another operation to re-rewind the material back into the original orientation.

Producing thin rolls with rewind slitting can be a challenge as the new roll may become unstable. At best it would have uneven edges, but worst case, it might just be scrap. The other issue is that the whole roll is slit at once, so it's not really a slit-to-order kind of process. (Yes, it is possible to rewind-slit a roll into just two parts, but why? It would make more sense to use a log slitter.)

Log Slitting
Log slitting really is like cutting a tree trunk into logs. It's done on machine that's part lathe and part circular saw. One end of the roll is mounted in a chuck and supported horizontally on long shaft threaded down the center. Moving along the bed of the machine, parallel to the roll, is what looks like a circular saw, although in this process it's actually a knife.

After loading, both the roll and the knife blade start to turn. Beginning at the end furthest from the chuck, the knife blade is pushed into the material roll, where it parts off a thinner roll of material. To cut the next roll the knife is withdrawn, moved along by a distance equal to the thickness needed, and pushed in again.

The advantages of roll slitting are that it's fast, there's next to no set up, and it provides a slit-to-order capability. If asked, it's possible to cut each roll to a different thickness.

Slitting Capabilities
The log slitter at Merryweather can handle rolls up to 20" diameter, and the ballscrew-driven knife has a positional accuracy of +/- 0.003" (0.076mm). That makes it capable of producing very thin, large diameter rolls, sometimes referred to as "pancake" rolls. The minimum core diameter, (the tube at the center of every roll,) is just 1" and the widest roll that can be slit is 90".

Edge Quality
It's difficult to slit rolls so they have a good, clean appearance from the side or end. Knife quality and condition are critical, and so too is the speed of cut. The tightness of the roll also has a bearing on edge quality.

When the blade is dull it tends to compress the material and produce an uneven edge. (The same happens if the roll is loosely wound.) To avoid this, Merryweather use automatic knife sharpening on their slitter. Conversely , when the blade is too sharp it can produce so-called, "angle hair" whiskers of material at the edges.

The speed at which the knife penetrates the material is important too. Move in too fast and the material compresses, move too slowly, and heat build sup in the knife, potentially damaging low melting point materials like foam. The Merryweather roll slitter knife is hydraulically driven for a smooth, well-controlled cut. Depending on the material being cut, water or a lubricating material might be sprayed on to the knife to help it work more easily.

Attention to Detail
For material that's sold in roll for, like foam weatherstripping, or foam coated on one or both sides with a PSA, roll slitting is an essential process. Both the rewind and log slitting process can deliver good results, when done with care on quality machinery. There is after all, an art to roll slitting!

Have questions? We're here to help! Please get in touch with us regarding your next project and we will be happy to answer your questions! 

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