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The Main Types of Packaging Foam

Packaging foam is commonly used as cushioning material for boxes, and this packaging solution is known for its versatility and its ability to be customized. There are three main types of packing foam that are used in the shipping and packaging industries, and these include polyurethane, polyethylene, and expanded polystyrene (EPS). An overview of these three main types of packaging foam is outlined below.

Polyurethane

This material combines the best properties of plastic and rubber without any of the weaknesses associated with vinyl films. This means that it is not prone to brittleness and is easy to work with. It can also be modified easily to suit a variety of applications, and custom foam shapes can also be created. Polyurethane is most commonly used for light and small products that are sensitive to shock. Other materials that use polyurethanes include:

  • Elastomeric tires and wheels
  • Automotive suspension bushings
  • Certain adhesives
  • Synthetic fibers (such as Spandex)
  • Carpet underlay

Polyethylene

Polyethylene foam is sometimes known as P.E., and it is one of the strongest closed cell foams available for packaging. It is popular for its ability to withstand significant pressure without losing some of the resilient cushioning properties for which it is known. Since this product is great for dampening vibrations and absorbing shock, it is commonly used as end caps, planks, and rolls. End caps can be placed around items to hold them into place, thus protecting the item from damage during transport. When purchasing P.E., it is often found in large rolls that are about 1/8 inch thick, and it can be used as void fill to provide products with additional protection.

Expanded Polystyrene (EPS)

EPS is an extremely popular packaging material, and it is often selected over the other options due to its versatility and cost effectiveness. It is used in a variety of applications when products are in need of a light weight, durable, and thermal insulating packaging solution. This closed-cell material can also be used to create the packaging peanuts that are commonly used as cushioning void fill, and it provides good properties of insulation. However, sheets of EPS are not a great choice when you are in need of a material that is good for shock absorption because it is quite rigid and can break when subjected to force. Polyurethane and polyethylene are better options if you are in need of a material to absorb shock during transport.

[1/23/2014]

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