Which Types of Foam Help to Reduce Noise?

Different types of acoustic foam have long been used in marine, industrial, and other applications to help decrease noise, reduce vibrations and protect workers. Boat manufacturers use sound abatement foam to isolate and attenuate sound and vibrations coming from boat engines, and other types of sound deadening foams are used in industrial environments to reduce noise and meet OSHA requirements. This is because certain foams have sound abatement and deadening properties, allowing these types of foams to create safer and more comfortable environments that have less noise pollution. 

How does sound reduction foam work? And which types do you need for your application? It first helps to understand how foam works to absorb sound. 

Sound Absorbing vs Sound Blocking

A common misconception about some types of foam (particularly open cell foam) is that the materials can be used to block sounds. You often see foam lining the walls of recording studios, giving the illusion that it is the foam that keeps the sound from escaping outside of the room. 

This is not the case. 

Open cell foams are not dense; they are mostly comprised of air. This allows sound waves to pass right through them with ease. In order to block sound, the foam materials need to be heavy and dense, like closed-cell foamsThe reason acoustic foam is used in recording studios and the other similar environments is because the material absorbs sound waves that would otherwise echo and reverberate throughout the room, which is bad for recordings.  

Foam plays a large role in reducing noise and vibrations in many settings, and both open and closed cell foams can be used to control the acoustics of a room. 

The Best Types of Foam for Sound Control

Foams that have absorptive properties are ideal for marine applications because they absorb the sounds and vibrations created by boat engines, making for a more comfortable experience while riding in one. Without marine foam, the vibrations and sound from the boat’s engine would cause the boat to rattle. It would also make the engine sound louder. 

The type of foam used for this application is a closed-cell cross-linked polyethylene. This dense foam absorbs and blocks sound, creating a better experience for boat passengers. 

In industrial environments, sound deadening foam is used to create a safer environment for workers. In areas where loud noises can create a hazard for workers, closed cell foam products are used to block sounds, and open cell foams are used to prevent them from reverberating across a room. Both can be helpful in controlling and reducing the noise in a given area, which can help meet OSHA regulations on noise control.  

OSHA Requirements on Noise

OSHA requires employers to implement a hearing conservation program when noise exposure is at or above 85 decibels averaged over 8 working hours, or an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA). Under OSHA’s Noise Standard, the employer must reduce noise exposure through engineering controls, administrative controls, or Hearing Protection Devices (HPDs) to attenuate the occupational noise received by the employee’s ears.  

There are many types of foam that can help you reduce noise and vibrations in marine and industrial applications, get in touch with our specialists at Amcon to talk about your foam needs.