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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.

Introducing Spunbond Materials

Spunbond materials are a subset of what's termed non-woven fabrics. That is, they are webs of material without the interlacing of threads produced by weaving on a loom. That means the fibers are randomly oriented and not interlocked, so a bonding process or medium is needed to fix them in place.

Non-woven fabrics are everywhere. Disposable wipes, diapers and pillow covers are just a few of the many uses around the home, but they're also used in agriculture, civil engineering and automobile interiors.

Why So Popular? 
Non-woven fabrics compete with wovens in two ways. First, they can be engineered to have practically any combination of properties needed. Tensile strength, absorption, and density are just of few of the characteristics polymer chemists are able to manipulate. In contrast, woven fabrics derive their properties mainly from the characteristics of the yarns employed.

Second, non-woven production processes are much faster than weaving. While a loom might turn out three to seven meters of woven material per hour, many non-woven processes could produce several hundred meters per hour. Naturally, this has an impact on cost.

Non-woven Production Processes 
Non-woven materials may be produced either from short lengths of fiber, (known as staple fibers,) or from continuous filament. Fibers can come from many sources, both natural and man-made, but filament is generally produced from polymers such as polypropylene, polyester and nylon.

A variety of methods are used to randomly orient fibers into a web before bond them together. One issue is that staple fibers must go through some kind of chopping process first. In contrast, spunbond materials, while lacking the randomness of fiber, are made directly from the polymer.

The Spunbond Process 
Polymer is melted and extruded through very fine holes, typically measuring 15 to 35 microns diameter. These thin continuous strands are made to spin as they solidify before landing on a moving conveyor or web of supporting material. The spinning randomizes the orientation of the strand as it lands and the conveyor motion ensures it forms a mat or web of material.

A bonding process, mechanical, chemical or thermal, joins the overlapping filament coils together, creating an engineered fabric. From polymer pellets to fabric web, it's an integrated process, and so highly cost-competitive.

Types of Spunbond Materials 

  • Polypropylene. This offers low density, good chemical and water resistance, and is readily formed as a breathable material. It works well in protective bags, sheets, pockets or pouches, is a good filter medium and absorbs oil well thanks to a porous structure. Spunbond polypropylene is also used for single-use gowns in the medical field.
  • Polyester. More expensive than polypropylene, this has higher tensile strength and better heat stability. It can be dyed or printed with conventional textile industry methods. Applications include fabric softener dryer sheets, automotive carpet backing and geotextiles.
  • Nylon. Has good tensile strength and tear resistance. Can absorb water but resists attack by alkalies and weak acids. Has good heat resistance and is air permeable. It's widely used as carpet underpad reinforcement, as quilt backing, and in automotive interiors.
  • Polyethylene. Similar to polypropylene, although with generally inferior properties, this is chemical and water resistant, and has good electrical insulation characteristics. A porous structure makes it a good oil absorber.
  • Polyurethane. This is an emerging material in spunbond form. Somewhat elastic, uses are anticipated in masks, diapers, medical tape, and also disposable clothing, thanks to textile-like properties.
  • Rayon. This creates non-wovens with textile-like properties like good drape and soft feel.
  • Bicomponent fibers. These consist of one polymer molded around a second, different, polymer. This enables a combination of properties such as the ability to take a dye combined with high strength.

Emerging Applications 
Development of spunbond manufacturing processes is continuing, with new forms of material entering the market and new applications being found. Spunbond foam offers superior handling characteristics with lower weight and increased softness. Today, we are able to laminate adhesive to spunbond materials to film, foam, and other materials as well as die cut, water jet cut, slit, and kiss cut this material in a number of application settings. The cost-effective spunbond process facilitates engineering of specific performance characteristics such as strength, water and chemical resistance, and feel. New spunbond materials are emerging constantly, and improved manufacturing methods are enabling yet more applications. Already spunbond polypropylene is seen as an alternative to polyurethane foam, and other applications are sure to follow. If you are interested in learning more about Spunbond Fabrics, give us a call and we would be happy to help you learn more. 


4 Reasons Why Our Membership with the GFA Benefits You

As proud members of the GFA, or Gasket Fabricators Association, Merryweather foam is committed to delivering the best cutting-edge solutions to their customers. Through our engagement in GFA resources and events, our company connects with the best suppliers and innovators in our industry to ensure we remain competitive, agile and powerful for our end customer - you. We aren't content to rest on our laurels, despite having some of the industry's most cutting-edge choices in cutting edges - Water Jet Cutting, Die Cutting, Contour Cutting and more - as well as customer-focused production techniques and a commitment to overall product quality. Partnering with the GFA as a member has allowed us to expand our expertise:

Annual Meetings
As with many fabrication-based industries, a single piece of technology or technique breakthrough can provide better products, pricing and efficiency virtually overnight. GFA membership gives Merryweather Foam access to twice a year membership meetings. These gatherings allow us to peruse new suppliers and lock in component and equipment deals that empower us to deliver a more valuable product to you, our customers. 

A Strong Network of Peers
The seminars, presentations and networking opportunities enjoyed by GFA members allow us to meet and stay in contact with peers that can offer guidance for unique challenges. We pride ourselves in staying up-to-date on the latest problem-solving techniques in the foam fabrication field, and GFA seminars give our team the knowledge and network contacts they need to serve you.

Technical Webinars
Important industry news travels fast, and if it happens between annual meetings, GFA webinars help us stay informed. By virtually connecting with and learning from the brightest minds in our field, we're always well ahead of changes and ready to take advantage of any potential opportunities on your behalf. 

The TechTeam™
The TechTeam™ is a valuable panel of experts assembled and serving in conjunction with the International Association of Die cutting and Die making. The team is a unique GFA membership benefit that extends the reach of our problem-solving skills by giving us access to sharp industry minds outside of our factory walls. If you have an unusual product or unusual fabrication needs, we are able to confer with the TechTeam™ for new ideas and a fresh outlook, giving you the benefit of efficiency.

At Merryweather Foam Inc, our membership in the GFA is only part of our commitment to our customers. We know that the needs and demands of the marketplace - whether they're for retail goods, equipment operation and protection, filtering or other applications - deserve to be met as affordably and quickly as possible, and with the highest degree of skill and quality available. We're proud to meet those demands every day, and invite you to contact us for all of your foam fabrication needs.

To learn more about the Gasket Fabricators Association, visit their website. Also, we would love to help you with your next project--please get in touch with us if you are in need of help. 


The Advantages of Low Permeability Foam

When choosing materials for projects, one of the larger concerns becomes balancing performance and cost. There is no sense in paying more for capabilities that you do not need. Low permeability foams are ideal for many projects that involve low pressure gasketing. They can keep out dust, vapor and gases. And, they cost less than other projects that may be overengineered for your purposes. By giving you the qualities you need at a manageable price, you can keep costs in check, leading to better margins all around.

How is Permeability Measured?

When creating a foam material, you can decide whether it is appropriate for your specific needs through water seal testing. To test, a U-shaped sample that is 100 mm thick is cut. The sample is compressed between two acrylic plates until it reaches half the original thickness. One hundred milimeters of water is then poured into the U. To pass our tests, the water must stay at that 100 mm level for 24 hours.

Where can you use Low Permeability Foam?

Low permeability foam can offer air or water sealing in a number of environments. It's available in sheets, rolls and bun stock and can be laminated to a wide range of pressure sensitive adhesives. Some of the places where low permeability foam is the ideal material:

  • Weather-stripping in buildings and vehicles.
  • Gaskets in HVAC, automotive and electronics.
  • Vapor seals in appliances and data processing equipment.
  • Packaging in areas where you need cushioning and a high level of shape retention.

Low permeability foam is available both as an open cell, low compression foam and as highly water resistant Superseal foam. All of these grades are available with a biocide and come in rolls, bun stock or sheets that range from .0125 inches to 2 inches thick.

Why Choose Low Permeability Foam?

Low perm foam has characteristics that make it an appealing option in a large range of applications. It's a highly adaptable material, giving you the flexibility to create exactly the part that you need. In an application such as automobile manufacturing, you have a large variation in the distance between the blower and the wall. But, for effective gasketing, you need a material that is highly resistant the the passage of air. Low permeability foam can be compressed to different degrees to fit into the area, while providing the sealing that is needed.

It costs less than products that may be more than you need for the application at hand, allowing you to bring in projects at a budget that allows greater profitability. Some of the benefits of this material include:

  • High resistance to abrasion and wear
  • Excellent shape retention
  • The ability to be laminated to several different pressure sensitive adhesives
  • Properties that give you controlled cushioning
  • Easily die cut
  • Light weight
  • Controlled permeability; this allows you to decide just how breathable your gasket or other part is made
  • Resistance to water leakage
  • Manufactured with out the use of damaging chlorofluorocarbons

We can make parts that are customized to your very needs and specifications. Our experts have years of experience choosing the right materials to give you the best performance possible. Contact us to discuss your needs and which items are the best fit your for application.


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! 


3M Select Converter Status - Why It Matters

Since 1948, the hardworking and passionate team at Merryweather Foam, Inc. has committed itself to becoming an industry leader in the world of manufacturing unique foam components for customers all over the world. We're incredibly appreciative of our dedicated customers, many of whom have been with us since the beginning. We're not a business that is willing to just rest on its laurels, however, which is why we're always taking steps to continually improve and eliminate waste in our manufacturing processes.

This is a large part of the reason why we're always working hard to achieve new quality certifications that allow us to prove that Merryweather Foam has earned its place as one of the most trusted manufacturers working today. One of those is 3M Select Converter Status, which means a number of important things for both our company and for our customers.

What is 3M Select Converter Status?
3M Select Converter status is a quality certification awarded by 3M Converter Solutions. 3M Converter Solutions is a global engagement platform targeting markets like electronics assembly, appliance assembly and beyond. They're a company that has pledged to act with uncompromising honesty and integrity in all of their interactions with customers, to always satisfy the needs of their users with innovative and superior solutions and to respect the social and physical environments around the world. Given that pedigree, it's easy to see why Select Converter status is both such a sought-after qualification and one that the company is very selective when it comes to awarding with their partners.

In order to achieve 3M Select Converter status, we completed a range of product-specific training sessions. That, coupled with the large volume of 3M produced materials that the company is responsible for handling each year, allowed us to become a trusted name in terms of our manufacturing processes, our engineering quality and the knowledge of our sales personnel.

What 3M Select Converter Status Means for Our Customers
For our valued customers, working with a 3M Select Converter like Merryweather Foam brings with it a host of different benefits that can't be ignored. These include but are not limited to things like:

  • Access to 3M-certified Specialists and Support Services
  • Competitive Pricing
  • Access to the Latest Solutions that 3M has to Offer and More

The Dependable Solution You Can Trust
At Merryweather Foam, we understand that every application represents a unique circumstance that requires a unique material solution. As a 3M Select Converter, this puts our sales team in the perfect position to connect you with the right specialists and technical support operators, both in-house and directly at 3M. This level of support in turn is able to give you all of the specific answers that you need and who can recommend the perfect product and materials options out of the thousands that are released by 3M each year.

3M Pressure Sensitive Adhesive & Industrial Adhesive
As 3M Select Converters, our unique relationship with 3M puts us in a better position to provide our customers with the specific items they need for any application when they need them the most. Case in point: 3M currently makes some of the highest quality UL Certified Adhesive and pressure sensitive available on the market today.

Adhesives in general are routinely taking the place of traditional bonding techniques, due in large part to the significant advancements that companies like 3M are making. Pressure sensitive and industrial adhesives are so customizable to the application that not only can they be die cut, but they're also strong enough to remove the need for a weld of any type.

As 3M Select Converters, we're specialists in these types of pressure sensitive and industrial adhesives. You get the benefit of not only purchasing the highest quality solution from 3M, but also having it converted to fit your needs by Merryweather Foam. This is the type of versatility that you just won't find anywhere else.

Unbeatable Prices
This in turn allows us to pass the savings onto you, as a way to give back for all the support you've given us throughout our history. You get all of the materials and other items that you need when you need them the most and Merryweather gets the comfort that comes only with knowing that we were able to help you carry your project through to completion and to excel beyond your wildest dreams.

Let us Help
Please get in touch with us! We would love to help you on your next project--big or small.