When you order a Pelican, Nanuk or SKB case with foam, the standard is soft layered foam or cubed foam (AKA Pick n Pluck from Pelican). While these foam sets provide good protection and are an economical solution, Production Case Company offers a wide variety of foam to satisfy your equipment, utilization, and budget.
Polyurethane (PU) Foam
We refer to this as "Soft Foam" as the composition allows it to have a higher deflection rate. In simpler terms, it is a "squishy" foam that indents relatively easy depending on the density. Rigid Polyurethane Foam (RPUF) is also available, although it is not common in the technical packaging industry and is seen more frequent in the construction industry
Polyurethane foam is an "open cell" foam, meaning the foam cells are linked together in a frame like structure, with their interior structures open to one another. This allows for a great level of forgiveness/deflection; however, it leaves it vulnerable to absorbing fluids.
PU Foam is also manufactured as convoluted. This convoluted foam is often known as egg crate foam. Convoluted foam provides generous amount of deflection due to the pyramids of foam having empty spaces between each other.
The technology we use to machine PU Foam is a CNC Router. Production Case manufactures custom foam products that requires machined PU, although it comes with a higher cost due to how delicate the foam is during the machining process.
PU Foam can be a DIY solution. All you'll need is a utility knife with a brand-new blade. Please ensure you take your time to produce a high-quality product.
Polyethylene (PE) Foam
We refer to this as "Hard Foam". By using this term, some may think that it's hard, like plastic. This is not the case. PE foam still provides deflection. Although it can not compress as much as PU foam. Its "harder" structure plays a strong role when supporting heavier objects and maintaining structural integrity within the foam pockets and divider walls. It also has increased durability when compared to PU foam.
PE Foam is categorized as a "closed cell" foam. The cells have the same structure as open cell foam, although membranes exist between the skeleton of the cells that help limit fluid and contaminant absorption.
PE foam is one of the most common types of foams we machine. Utilizing the CNC Machine we are able to machine PE foam to specific depths which results in high precision inserts with optimal compression and protection.
At Production Case, we offer pre-designed "Hard Layered Foam Sets" (HLFS) that are CNC routed for various Pelican cases. A Hard layered foam set is created from layers of PE foam that are perfectly contoured and tapered to the specific Pelican case. If a Hard Layered Foam Set doesn't satisfy your criteria, perhaps a 1" Hard Foam Lining Kits. We offer pre-designed 1" Hard Foam Lining Kits for Pelican Cases that provide you with PE foam on all interior walls of the case as well as PE foam in the lid.
In conclusion, Polyethylene foam is a highly quality, aesthetically pleasing, and durable product at a reasonable price.
Cross-Linked Polyethylene (XLPE) Foam
One of the most popular brands of XLPE is "Zote". Cross-Linked Polyethylene is to be considered a "Hard Foam" as it will have similar deflection to regular PE depending on the chosen density. Like PE, XLPE is categorized as a closed cell foam. However, the crosslinked cells offer benefits when it comes to fluid absorption, chemical resistance, durability, and aesthetics. When comparing PU, PE and XLPE - XLPE is the "Ferrari" of foams.
XLPE has a softer touch and an incredibly smooth surface. This results in a very aesthetically pleasing product. XLPE foams are recommended when protection and presentation is required and can be frequently seen in the following industries:
- and many more!
Check out the list here for an overview on the chemical resistance of the base materials in the PlastaZote range. Please use this document as an example. If further specifications should be confirmed for your project - we're always here to help.
Though XLPE comes at a premium price, there are applications where the benefits and durability make it premium price worth while.
We've covered a lot here and we have only touched base on what's available in the world of foam for technical packaging. The article is meant to give you a general understanding of the foam we use here at Production Case Company.
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