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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.

Rotary Die Cutting - Foam Fabrication Capability

Rotary die cutting can be used to create shapes, creases, folds and guides in foam and plastic materials.

What Fabrication Processes Are Available to Business Owners?

Anytime a business needs to produce large numbers of identical and highly accurate shapes through cutting, forming and shaping sheet or rolled metal, or some other material, such as paper or plastic, business owners frequently use a versatile fabrication process called die cutting.

Different manufacturers use varying die cutting processes, which include:

  • Flatbed
  • Press
  • Laser
  • Rotary

What Is the Rotary Die Cutting Fabrication Process and Why Is It Chosen So Often?

Since the rotary die cutting procedure takes place on a heavy-duty cylindrical anvil, or rotary press, it provides a stable and efficient method that works well for clients' high-volume projects. This type of fabrication process produces little waste, mostly due to the sheer simplicity of the machine's design and specific capabilities.

Similar to the idea of a mold in other processes, a die serves as the customized tool that makes the cuts and shapes in the materials chosen. the The most common dies used in the process include engraved dies that offer stability and a solid base due to its mass, adjustable dies for varied blade options and magnetic plate tooling that also offers a stabilizing force due to the power of the magnets.

The rotary die cutting process begins when an operator feeds a long web or sheet of material into the die cutting machine's "station," which is the spot that contains the rotary cutting tool that creates the designed shapes by various methods, including cutting programmed shapes, creating perforations and creases or whittling the sheet or web down to smaller pieces. A set of well-calibrated gears ensure that a rotary die cutting machine will work at the same speed as the rest of the process for high accuracy and quality. As for the flexible foam material, it goes through the machine, the small amount of waste material filters into a catcher for easy clean-up and disposal.

Since the rotary die cutting cylinders feature a limited size, they are only suitable for smaller projects — a few feet wide or less — but that still leaves plenty of options for manufacturers, which include:

  • Polyester foam packaging
  • Gasket foam seals
  • Polyester foam rollers
  • Waterjet cut foam gasketing
  • Waterjet cut polyester foam spiral
  • Polyester foam case insert
  • Reticulated polyurethane foam filter
  • Flexible gasketing material
  • Fabricated foam gasket

Ultimately, this process offers many benefits to a company that regularly needs precision cutting on various materials, quick turnaround times and the potential for taking on multiple projects at once since users can combine die cutting with coating, embossing and lathing processes.

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Lower your shipping costs with custom-cut XLPE foam for dunnage

Cross-linked Polyethylene Case Insert

Almost every manufactured product gets shipped, and shipping costs money. Minimizing shipping costs is a priority for most businesses. That means using all the space in the truck for product, loading it to it's maximum weight, and ensuring nothing gets damaged in transit. XLPE foam dunnage is proven to help with all three.

Rough roads mean parts are in constant motion. Even when product is generously spaced, shocks and vibration can compress separating materials, letting surfaces touch and leaving marks. Adding more separation might prevent touching, but reduces volume utilization in the truck, pushing up shipping costs. Even if contact is avoided, vibration means movement against the dunnage material. That's a problem with many types of parts, but especially when appearance is critical, as with Class A automotive components.

Polyethylene foam is widely used in dunnage. It compresses and recovers readily, so does a good job of absorbing shocks and vibration. Unfortunately though, it's open-cell structure tends to rub, creating marks on paint and in metal and plastic.

For holding fragile parts and those where surface appearance is critical, cross-linked polyethylene (XLPE) foam performs much better. A closed-cell structure means no edges to abrade part surfaces, so coatings and finishes remain pristine, yet it's still resilient enough to protect against shock and vibration.

Another benefit of XLPE is the ease with which it's cut and shaped, as Merryweather demonstrated when producing inserts for specialized dunnage racking. That helps reduce spacing between parts while still ensuring they won't touch or rub. Tighter intra-part spacing translates to improved weight or load utilization and the low density of XPLE foam also means the excess weight being shipped is minimized.

XLPE foam is available in a range of colors, which can be beneficial for easy product identification, and as a closed-cell foam, is waterproof if left uncovered while outdoors. Unlike wood, it doesn't splinter, and has no sharp edges, so there's little risk of people being injured while loading or unloading parts.

Minimizing shipping costs involves maximizing volume and weight utilization in the truck, but that's not enough if product gets damaged in transit. By choosing the right material for dunnage it's possible to pack individual pieces tightly yet still be confident in them arriving undamaged after even a long cross country journey. Precision cut XLPE foam is the material to use.

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Foam LEGO Slippers - Saving Feet One Block at a Time

A French AD Agency created LEGO foam slippers to save parents from experiencing the well known pain of stepping on a LEGO.

Foam products are all around us, but they are often so practical and useful that we wind up forgetting they exist. However, a new creation by the toymaker LEGO, oddly enough, has shown another side of foam—a fun (yet still practical) side that will have parents cheering.

LEGO, in partnership with French ad agency Brand Station, has created the LEGO Slipper. Any parent who's children play with the popular LEGO blocks has probably felt the pain of stepping on a block in the middle of the night. Bare feet and hard, plastic blocks do not mix.

These LEGO-branded slippers were developed with an extra layer of foam cushion to protect feet from the pain of LEGOs. Parents can now walk through the house and feel confident that they will not be surprised by the pain of a hard plastic block.

LEGO and brand station are only producing 1500 pairs of these branded slippers, and they will be distributing them at random to customers who fill out a Christmas wish list on the LEGO France website. This may mean that your chances of getting the slippers are slim. However, it does remind us all of the different ways that foam can be used. Perhaps you can come up with a modification to your current slippers—LEGO-proof bunny slippers maybe?

If you would like to learn more about the LEGO slippers, check out this video Brand Station shared about how they were made. To learn more about the many uses for foam, visit our section on case studies.

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Choosing the Right Foam Product for Acoustical Insulation

Acoustical foam is a cost effective way to improve the quality of sound in a room. Contrary to what many believe, foam does not block sound, but absorbs it. Sound waves propagate through the air and reflect from surfaces to produce echoes. When sound waves enter the pores of the foam, the sound energy is converted to kinetic energy. It is transferred to the foam, causing it to vibrate. This prevents the sound waves from reverberating throughout the room. Acoustical foam is available for use on walls and ceilings. It is frequently used to control noise in auditoriums, recording studios and conference rooms and reduce vibrations in industrial settings.

Types of Foam
Melamine and polyurethane are the primary materials used to produce sound absorption foam. Polyurethane is tear resistant and may be found in a wide range of colors, textures and styles to allow limitless design possibilities. Polyurethane foams are available as either polyesthers or polyethers. Polyesthers are more robust, glossier and maintain their color longer than polyethers. Polyethers are less expensive. Polyurethane acoustical foams are Class B Fire Rated. The material is highly flammable and should not be used near high heat or open flames. Melamine is not quite as durable as polyurethane but has a Class A fire rating. It is often the choice of builders since it meets fire codes. Melamine is fire resistant and used in public areas such as hospitals, schools and cafeterias.

Foam Shapes
Acoustical foams are produced in a variety of shapes and sizes to enhance performance and increase specific sound absorption properties. Convoluted foams, such as the egg crate pattern, are designed to increase the surface area to provide greater absorption of sound waves. Wedge foam, with a one inch thickness, offers moderate sound control and is most effective for mid to high range frequencies. Increasing thickness to 2 to 4 inches increases the foam's ability to absorb a full range of frequencies. Though similar performance improvements are observed with increasing thickness, the increased surface area resulting from the unique geometry of pyramid foam offers a slight performance improvement over the wedge foam.

Application
Acoustical foams are lightweight and easy to install. To be effective, all wall surfaces of the room must be insulated with foam. Applying it to only one wall allows the sound to reflect from the remaining uncovered walls. The type of foam needed to treat your room will depend on the size, shape, surface texture and frequency of sounds.

How can we Help?
Let us help you select the right flexible foam product for your next project. We would love to answer any questions you have about custom foam fabrication.

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Open or Closed Cell Foam: How to Choose

When you are choosing the type of foam for your project, you will need to consider several properties. In addition to deciding the foam material, pore size and the density, you may also have to decide whether open cell or closed cell foam is better. Both Open Cell and Closed Cell foams can easily have adhesive applied on them. The right one to pick will depend on the application at hand.

Terminology: Open Cell and Closed Cell

Open celled foam is made up of porous, interconnecting cells or bubbles. These cells can be produced by the foaming operation along with having their membranes removed using a post-reticulation process. Closed cell foam has chambers that are completely closed off from the neighboring ones. No exchanges of gases can take place.

Which to Use When

Open cell foam is softer and more pliant. They are often used in cushioning and padding in furniture, boat cushions, car seats and other applications. They make a highly effective packing material. They are also a great choice for applications where airflow is a necessity, including speakers, small engines, compressors, air conditioning, vacuum cleaners, face masks and hair dryers. Open cell foam makes an excellent insulating material for reducing noise in everything from microwave covers to industrial machines. Poron® is also an open cell urethane used for gaskets, seals, spacers, cushion pads, vibration/motor mounts.

Open Cell foam functions & applications:

  • Holding or wicking a liquid
  • Filtering dust from the air
  • Low-pressure gasket for dust, light, vapor, and water
  • Acoustical absorption
  • Vibration dampening
  • Craft brushes
  • Make-up puffs
  • Whiteboard erasers
  • Floor scrubbers.

Closed Cell foam tends to be more dense and more rigid. Water and other liquids cannot enter the foam chambers. Closed cell foams come in a number of materials that include PVC, cross-linked polyethylene, sponge rubbers, and others. Softer closed cell foams like Polyethylene foam have great shock absorption and buoyancy, but over time will take a set and not rebound to its original thickness.These foams are highly flexible, and can be used in automotive, household insulation, and appliance applications.

Closed Cell Foam can be used in:

  • Gaskets
  • Seals
  • Automotive dunnage
  • Cervical collars
  • Floor underlayment
  • Joint & building filler strips
  • Boat decking
  • Insulation in hot tubs
  • Pool noodles
  • Flotation devices
  • Sporting equipment
  • Exercise mats.

By starting with the right type of foam for your project, you can better assure your items functionality and durability. Talk to one of our consultants today about custom fabrication. We can get you started with the right materials for a successful and high-quality project.

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