Foam materials are vastly diverse in their qualities and uses, which are often determined by their cellular structure. Some foams have cells that are left open, while others are deliberately closed. These closed cell foams are known for their cushioning properties and the fact that they are not very breathable, making them ideal for some uses and not others.
For a more in-depth differentiation between open and closed cell foams, refer to this breakdown.
What exactly is closed cell foam, and what should you be using it for? Find out more about the material, its benefits and drawbacks, and its common applications across various industries.
What is Closed Cell Foam?
There’s a lot going on at the cellular level of closed cell foams. The individual cells within the foam material are encapsulated, meaning that their walls are closed off. The cells are pressed tightly together, but they are not interconnected. This gives the material a rigid (but not always dense) quality. When compared to open cell foams, they are not as “springy,” but they still offer ample protection and durability. When to use each type of foam (for packaging, etc.) depends on how you need the foam to act when pressure is applied to it.
Common closed cell foam types include:
- Polyethylene Foam
- Beaded Polyethylene Foam
- Crosslinked Polyethylene Foam
- Expanded Polystyrene Foam
The Benefits of Closed Cell Foams
There are many benefits of using closed cell foams:
- Waterproof: while this is mostly true (closed cell foams are not always 100 percent waterproof), they offer much more protection against water than open cell foams because they do not absorb water as quickly.
- Tear resistance: since closed cell foams are generally denser and more rigid, they are less likely to tear. This makes them more durable in certain cases (depending on the forces being applied to it).
- Insulation: since there are no gaps between the cells in closed cell foams, they do not allow air to permeate the material. This makes them highly effective insulators.
The drawbacks of using closed cell foams are:
- Lack of breathability: if you need foam that is breathable or able to filter liquids, closed cell foam is not the best option for your application.
- Rigidity: closed cell foams are much more rigid, which means they are more prone to breaking and are not able to conform to naturally conform to the objects the objects they are protecting. If you are packaging something small and delicate, it’s much more effective to use an open cell foam. Conversely, closed cell foams are much more effective at protecting heavy and bulky items.
The Uses and Applications of Closed Cell Foams
When should you be using closed cell foam materials? Some of the best uses for these types of foam include:
- Outdoor and commercial cushioning
- Marine seating and other applications
- Insulation and fenestration
- Packaging (bulky and heavy items)
- Sound dampening
Ready to see some closed cell foam options? Need help choosing the best material for your application? We can help. Get in touch with our team today to find the best foam solution.