The Most Common Types of Packaging Foam

If you have something to ship and you want to get it to its destination in one piece, foam is your best packaging option. Many foam materials are affordable, effective, lightweight, and easily fabricated into custom shapes, meaning you can get the best protection for your products while using as little material as possible (which helps keep costs even lower). 

You know foam packaging is right for you, but which type of foam? How do you know what the best packing foam is for your products, and your budget? Your options are plentiful, and our experts can help you choose the right one. To get started, here are some of the most common types of packing we offer to our customers. 

Expanded Polyethylene (EPE)

Expanded polyethylene—also known as beaded foam—is a thermoplastic resin that has been melted and cooled before being fabricated into your desired shape. It’s a lightweight and durable foam that offers good cushioning and shock absorption, on top of having a high weight to strength ratio and high thermal resistance. It’s also resistant to water, oils, and chemicals, and can be a good insulator. 

Since it’s non-abrasive, it can be used with class A surfaces, which makes it ideal for applications that need great protection for delicate items. 

Polyurethane (PU)

Polyurethane may be most widely known as an excellent type of foam for cushioning and mattresses, but it also makes a great packaging material. Polyurethane is an elastic open-cell foam, which makes it highly flexible and soft. This means the material is ideal for protecting very delicate items that may be susceptible to damage from vibrations while in transit. 

Polyurethane absorbs shocks very well, and it’s great at retaining its shape. It’s often converted into “egg crate” shapes to line protective cases and boxes. Because it also resists mildew, it’s also an ideal packaging for food and other products susceptible to moisture damage. 

Expanded Polypropylene (EPP)

Expanded polypropylene is a closed cell beaded foam that offers excellent protection because of its unique properties. The foam is an excellent shock absorber, has a high strength to weight ratio, and has a high impact resistance. It’s also a good thermal insulator, resistant to water and chemicals, and can be fabricated in multiple different densities based on your needs. 

EPP is a reliable form of protective dunnage that can be used in everything from consumer products to food-safe applications. 

Polyethylene (PE)

Polyethylene is a closed cell foam that, when compared to polyurethane, is much denser. This makes it more ideal as protective packaging for larger and more bulky items that would normally compress protective packaging made from polyurethane. Polyethylene is non-absorbent, making it highly effective when exposed to water, chemicals, and other liquids. The material will not mold, rot, or grow mildew easily. 

Polyethylene is ideal for packaging applications that need vibration dampening, insulation, ESD and anti-static protection, or high shock absorption. 

Expanded Polystyrene (EPS)

Expanded polystyrene is very lightweight and rigid closed cell foam. It’s especially known for its R-value, which makes it one of the best insulators in protective packaging materials. EPS is energy efficient, strong, and non-abrasive. It’s also very cost effective. High dimensional stability and low moisture and vapor permanence round off the benefits of choosing this foam packaging material. 

Find the Right Packaging Foam

At Amcon, we specialize in helping our clients fight a packaging foam material that is available, protective, and cost effective. We also specialize in fire resistant, anti-static, and MIL-SPEC foam. No matter what type of material you need, we can fabricate and supply a packaging solution that works for you. Get in touch with our team today for a free consultation, quote, or material sample.