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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 Flatbed Die Cutting Do For You?

Flatbed Die Cutting is a cost effective and a speedy method to cut foam especially at tight tolerances

Cutting complex shapes out of sheet with a knife or scissors isn't easy, especially when you want them all to look the same. That's probably why some brilliant pastry chef invented the cookie cutter.

Flatbed die cutting is the industrial version. It's a cost-effective way of making complicated two-dimensional shapes in thin material. Here's how it works and some reasons why you might want to use it.

Process basics
The cutting die starts out as a strip of thin steel rather like that used in a steel tape measure, which may be why it's known as a "steel rule die." This strip is bent into the outline of the shape to be cut, and fixed in a slot cut in the base. The assembled die then gets mounted face down in a press. The material being cut is positioned underneath the die, which is pressed down. Pressure forces the steel edge through the material, producing the shape that's wanted.

The depth of cut is controllable, so you can cut all the way through or just part way. The advantage of cutting part way, in what's called a "kiss" or "butt" cut, is that individual pieces stay with the sheet. This makes handling cut material much easier.

There's a version of this process known as rotary die cutting. The difference is that the steel rule die is mounted in a cylinder that rolls over the material being cut. This works well for rolls of material as well as sheets, but the machines can be larger and are more suited to higher volumes.

Characteristics of flatbed die cutting

  • Accuracy and repeatability: The steel rule die ensures the same shape is cut every time, with very little variation.
  • Edge quality: Edges are clean and vertical, even on thicker materials. (Side note: rotary die cutters tend to produce a slightly curved edge.)
  • Versatile: Polyethylene, Urethanes, silicones, and many elastomeric materials can all be cut this way.
  • Nesting capability: Combine multiple steel rule dies on a single base to cut several parts at once.
  • Fast: No manufacturing process can compete with the speed of a press.

Advantages

  • Very economical for smaller quantities and short production runs, thanks to inexpensive tooling and short set-up times, plus the speed of the press.
  • New shapes can be produced without extended delays for tooling
  • Can maximize material utilization through nesting, (so keeping costs low.)
  • Easy handling of kiss-cut material
  • Works on almost any sheet material

Simple and cost-effective
When you need a number of identical shapes cutting from foam material flatbed die cutting has a lot to recommend it, but depending on your volumes there may be alternatives. The experts here at Merryweather Foam can tell you if die cutting is the way to go or if you should consider something else, so contact us today.

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Adhesive Lamination Helps Make Your Product a Success

Multiple materials can be combined through lamination, creating a composite material with unique performance attributes to suit nearly any application. Whether you need tensile strength, cushioning, adhesion, fire resistance, shock absorption or insulation from heat or cold, there is a laminated composite material that can provide an optimum solution for your product. Merryweather Foam specializes in helping our customers achieve the results they want quickly and cost effectively.

The Adhesive Lamination Process

Our specialized adhesive lamination equipment works using pressure and heat to create permanent bonds between dissimilar products. The process works by feeding rolls of two or more different materials through large rollers under precise pressure and temperature conditions. In some cases, one material may have a carefully selected adhesive pre-applied so it comes in contact with the other material during the rolling process. In other cases, an adhesive may be evenly sprayed or rolled on the materials as they unspool so they are thoroughly coated before they enter the rolling area. The new composite material is spooled at the end of the lamination process so that it can be slit to your specified lengths and widths or shipped as for use in your manufacturing facility. Regardless of the number of materials bonded and the adhesive application methodology, the material that results is permanently bonded and will have a combination of the characteristics of each material used.

Adhesive laminated materials are used in many products across multiple industries, including:

  • Medical
  • Industrial
  • Automotive
  • Appliances
  • Electronics
  • Packaging

Materials

Any number of materials may be used to create composites with adhesive lamination. The most frequently used materials include polyurethanes, polyurethane foams, polyethylene foams, silicones, low permeability foams for use in wet or harsh environments, closed cell PVC or rubber sponge or foam, Poron™ urethane foams, and Cellasto™ microcellular polyurethane elastomer foams. Each of these materials offers different characteristics, including

  • Density
  • Insulating properties
  • Flexibility
  • Sound absorption
  • Durability
  • Compressibility
  • Abrasion resistance
  • Permeability
  • Solvent and chemical resistance
  • Appearance and aesthetics
  • Buoyancy and weight
  • Flammability and fire retardant specs
  • Regulatory approvals such as FDA, UL, ULC
  • Breathability
Why You Need a Partner with Adhesive Laminating and Composite Expertise

Your application is unique, so you need a unique composite material to give you the exact performance characteristics needed to solve your customers' problems. It requires experience and expertise to combine materials to create a composite with the right characteristics for a unique application.

At Merryweather Foam, we have more than 65 years of experience in helping customers specify exactly the right process and materials to create a composite to help your product succeed in your market. If you are interested in learning more about how our industry-leading adhesive lamination capabilities can benefit your product, contact us today.

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Case Study: How Open Cell Foam is Used to Help Measure Brain Waves

open cell medical foam

Problem: Leaking Fluids & Uncomfortable Caps

A leading provider in the healthcare sector was in need of a solution to prevent saline testing fluids from leaking from skull caps worn by EEG testing patients. Also, patients complained of discomfort from the testing electrodes because they would scratch the bare skin of the patient's scalp. EEG testing normally lasts between 30 and 60 minutes and the test is crucial in measuring brain activity so it was imperative for our customer to find a solution quickly.

Solution: Open Cell Polyurethane Foam

We've been designing and manufacturing unique foam components for our customers for nearly 70 years. Our engineering team worked with the customer to utilize open cell polyurethane foam to prevent the saline solution from escaping and running down the patient's head. This solution increased the conductivity at the point where the electrodes connected to the skull, which improves the overall quality of the EEG testing results. To solve the problem of the uncomfortable test cap, we decided to laminate felt on one side of the open cell foam to a soft fiber material that surrounded the electrode so that when it expanded with saline, it would also act like a pad on the patient’s head. That way, it would help to protect the bare skin from the bare metal electrodes. 

Success: Open Cell Foam in EEG Testing

Today, this technique is used in EEG tests in hospitals around the world. By improving the ease of testing and keeping the saline in place, the open cell foam has improved conductivity at the point of connection and increased received data rate by about 30 percent.

Summary Benefits of Open Cell Foam in this Study:

  • Increased conductivity & improved EEG testing quality data rates by almost 30%
  • Allows for better holding of testing liquids and prevents liquids from dripping on the patient during testing 
  • Affordable and cost effective design allows for single patient use
  • Improves patient comfort and satisfaction level during testing

Product Specifications:

Product Name:  Medical Foam Valve Caps for EEG Testing
Description: Fiber and Foam Laminated Components
Capabilities Applied:
  • Primary: Die Cutting & Adhesive Lamination 
  • Secondary: Packaging to Customer Specifications
Tightest Tolerances: ± .030”
Material Used: Open Cell Polyurethane Foam, Soft Fiber Material, and Acrylic Adhesive
Industry of Use: Medical Industry
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The ViaBuff: A Skincare Exfoliation Product Made with Polyurethane Foam

ViaBuff Skin Physical Exfoliator
Exfoliation isn't a short term fad--it's crucial to maintain healthy looking skin. Exfoliation removes dead skin cells and debris that lurks on the outer layers of skin, and which can potentially clogged pores if left alone. Even better, exfoliation encourages cell renewal and healthy growth so that your beautiful and glowing skin can continue to shine. Exfoliating properly can be a precarious endeavor – scrubbing just a little bit too vigorously or using a strong exfoliating cream can further dehydrate the skin and cause outbreaks of inflammation. but foregoing exfoliation can leave the skin dried out and congested with dead skin cells and bacteria. That's why using a puff custom designed for the skin, like the ViaBuff, is so important. Most people with normal skin types should exfoliate once to twice a week. Those with oily skin may need to do so three or more times a week, whereas those with eczema or other serious dry skin conditions should consider exfoliating only once only per week. For more information, check out the ViaBuff posts about exfoliating dry skin and exfoliating oily skin.


Support from Merryweather Foam
People who are looking to exfoliate their skin are bombarded with an endless variety of exfoliating tools – dry brushes, loofahs, mesh puffs, nylon puffs, exfoliating creams – the list can go on and on. Exfoliators like loofahs and nylon puffs harbor exceptionally high amounts of bacteria. Dry brushing and some exfoliating creams can create small tears in the skin. That’s why Merryweather Foam worked with the ViaBuff design team to help create a custom series of ViaBuff Exfoliating Puffs. These puffs not only last 30% longer than most other exfoliating tools, but also to protect against bacteria colonization. Our customer service team at Merryweather worked intensely to source the right foam that would be ideal for the Viabuff skincare exfoliation products. "We settled on an open cell polyurethane foam because it's known for its durability and ability to customize its properties," describes Ryan McCune, Vice President of Customer Service. "We started by sampling different types and colors of the urethane foams to the ViaBuff design team to gather feedback from customer trials. We don't want to be known as just a foam fabricator. Instead, we want to be known as a team of experts that learn the needs of our customers and help find the best solution for their application," says McCune. Ultimately, the ViaBuff team decided on four different exfoliation intensities and colors of open cell polyurethane foam.

 

The ViaBuff is the first to offer a thorough yet gentle exfoliation, and custom designations for different skin types and concerns, as outlined below.

 B2ap3 Thumbnail ViaBuff Exfoliation Types

* Level 1 - (Purple) is great for those oily skin, acne-prone skin or sensitive skin;
* Level 2 - (Green) for normal to eczematous skin types;
* Level 3 - (Pink) for ingrown hairs, freshly waxed skin and keratosis pilaris;
* Level 4 - (White)forexceptionally dry skin.

 

ViaBuff Puffs also are available for those with combination skin, such combining Level 2 and 3, 3 and 4, and 1 and 4, etc. ViaBuff handles are also sold so that those with mobility issues or have trouble exfoliating hard-to-reach places can have an easy exfoliating experience.

 

Why Exfoliating Puffs?
"We chose to make an exfoliating puffs as opposed to exfoliating mitts and pumices because these puffs provide a stronger soap lather and are more durable for all-over body use. In 2014, we launched the product so that people with varied skin concerns and types could finally have an exceptional total body exfoliating experience," says ViaBuff Representative, Jim Inama. Made from an open-cell polyurethane foam, the ViaBuff puffs were formulated specifically promote speedy air-drying, which in turn reduce the likelihood of bacterial growth on the puffs. With over 1,200sq/in of usable surface area, ViaBuff Exfoliating Puffs offer a more efficient exfoliating experience than most store-bought puffs and loofahs. ViaBuff Puffs’ cell structure enables them to absorb a small amount of water so that more exfoliating product stays on the surface of the puff, thus ensuring a more thorough and deeply-penetrating exfoliation.

 

Where Can I Purchase ViaBuff Products?
ViaBuff products can be purchased at ViaBuff.com and Amazon. If you are interested in selling ViaBuff products or would like more information, feel free to contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit their customer support page.
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Polyethylene Foam: An Excellent Material for Automotive Dunnage Racks

Automotive Dunnage Racks Made from Polyethylene FoamDunnage racks are used to store and transport parts within an automotive factory. Dunnage racking also ensures the safe delivery of each part in a manufacturing environment.

Benefits include:

  • Effectively protects parts from scratches and dents.  
  • The custom ergonomic design allows for easy lifting.
  • Reusable and reduces long-term costs, plus reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills.
  • Easier storage due to stackable design We work with our customers to design each packaging solution to fit the needs of each project, with customizable options.

Our goal is to always design the package system projects to protect the finish on each item, utilizing fabricated foam assemblies. We select and use the most durable foam materials to create the best packaging solutions for transport to anywhere.

Recently, Merryweather Foam was approached by an OEM automotive company to manufacture a series of custom designed foam to fit dunnage rack systems. The foam we recommended is a type of polyethylene foam. We chose this particular foam because it is both cost effective and durable.

First, we started the fabrication process by water jet cutting the polyethylene material to match the custom design of the pieces to fit the rack. Next, we added grooves to each of the foam pieces by routing the material. Finally, we packaged and shipped the dunnage rack shelves to our customer.

Throughout the entire foam fabrication process, we were able to hold tightest tolerances of ± .040”. Our goal is to always provide solutions that help you achieve cost-savings on each shipment, along with providing a solution that helps eliminate waste. For more information about how our capabilities can help with your next project, please contact us and we will be happy to assist you.

Product Name:  Dunnage Rack Foam Shelves
Description: Custom cut foam components used within a dunnage rack.
Capabilities Applied:
  • Primary: Waterjet cutting
    Cutting Material to size

  • Secondary: Routing
    Apply Groove to Material Packaging
Tightest Tolerances: ± .040”
Material Used: White Polyethylene Foam
Industry of Use: Automotive
Standards Met: Customer Supplied Specifications
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