The basic types of fabrication for custom foam products
An insight into different cutting technologies
Manufacturers of custom foam products have invested heavily in equipment and methods to make cutting as efficient and precise as possible. In order to make custom foam products cost effective for consumers, waste should be minimized as much as possible while speeding up the process. Cutting is a method with which different shapes and designs are achieved based on the requirements of the products. There are instances when foam has to be compressed before it is cut in order to create a unique convoluted or “egg crate” design. Different cutting technologies include hot wire, template, die and computer contour cutting for intricate parts. Some foam manufacturers have invested in more advanced cutting technologies like laser cutting and water jet cutting to ensure precision and efficiency in cutting custom foam products.
Post treatment technologies after the cutting process
After the process of cutting, foam is subjected to different post treatment technologies which may involve the combination of foam with other materials such as nonwoven substrates or fiber through special bonding techniques. Some of the most significant bonding techniques are flame bonding, hot film bonding or powder lamination.
- Flame bonding – is a process to produce laminates by bonding foam to different fabrics and substrates with the use of open flame. Exposure to open flame will create a thin layer of molten polymer on the surface of the foam which when brought into contact with the secondary layer through pressure will develop a bond between the two surfaces. An example of custom foam products using this process of lamination is upholstery.
- Hot film bonding – is a process where two substrates or components are bonded together using a hot melt film between them and the assembly that is heated to liquefy the adhesive. When the adhesive cools and solidifies, a strong bond is formed. The hot melt films are usually formulated from synthetic polymers which are available in a variety of thicknesses either as a random web or continuous film. The most common application of hot film bonding is the electronics market.
- Powder lamination – is a process wherein adhesive powder is scattered on the materials that require lamination. With a top material, the compound is heated up until the adhesive powder melts inside a flatbed laminating machine. For better bonding, a pair of rollers applies linear pressure until the cooling zone cools down the compound and a strong bonding is achieved.
Proper use of different foam fabrication techniques allows the production of various custom foam products for the consumer market. Foam fabrication has also improved appearance, design and durability of foam components.