Foams (table)

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Lightweight, laminated foam panels. Foamboards are typically made with expanded polymers between one or two outer layers of papers of paper, metal or plastic. Some types of archival foamboards are listed below:

FOAMS/SUPPORTS Polymer type Foam type Characteristics Common Applications Commercial examples Working properties Collections risks Physical and chemical properties
Chloroprene thermoset closed-cell soft, flexible, form-fitting sponge rubber, with good thermal and moisture insulation. Resistant to sunlight and oxidation sports gloves, insulated food holders, knee and elbow pads, joint filler Neoprene
Ethylene vinyl acetate thermoplastic closed-cell frequently used foam sheet with a wide density range; provides good insulation, moisture resistance and can be heat formed; buoyant packaging; shoes, underlayment, marine and sports products, construction, toys, mats Evasote, Sponge Aero Rubber
Nylon thermoplastic closed-cell resistant to high temperatures; can be thermoformed; low weight, buoyancy; thermal and acoustical insulator; very durable seals and gaskets, hard body armor padding, transmission seals, energy absorbing panels Nomex; Viton; Zotek N Very clean; can be used in direct contact with objects
Polyethylene thermoplastic closed-cell strong, resilient; shock-absorbing, good insulator, buoyant; water-resistant; can be heat sealed cushioning, packaging, flotation devices; not as good for cushioning as PUR in crates, but can work around that by using things like springs for shock absorption Ethafoam, Plastazote, Polyplank, Volara Variations in thicknesses and texture, but generally stiffer than polyurethane Highly inert but best not to use in direct contact with objects. Not as good for thermal insulation as PUR ester
Polypropylene thermoplastic closed-cell Durable, non-dusting structural foam with very good cushioning properties; may have a longer lifetime than PE foams shipping plants; lining boxes, flotation devices Microfoam; Propafoam; Polypro
Polystyrene (XPS) thermoset closed-cell XPS is extruded polystyrene. It is rigid, thermal insulation, lightweight, moisture resistant; will not rot or mildew (non-biodegradable). Crumbles and produces puffed beads. XPS does not crush as easily eps cups, food containers, egg cartons XpsStyrofoam; Foamular Stiff enough to hold plywood; can be built into a structure that has wood elements
Polyurethane thermoset closed-cell rigid, thermal insulation, moisture resistant; resistant to sunlight and oxidation appliance insulation, buoyancy in boats Walltite spray foam;
open-cell flexible, soft, good compression memory with uniform texture, burns easily; cushioning in furniture, packaging; sound insulation; vibration dampening; most desirable properties are its sponginess and ability ot be compressed; museum transport, perhaps not as widely used anymore; better for cushioning that the polyethylenes; widely used for crates, outer crates; used for carts, A frames Polyurethane flexible foam wedges; Tempur-pedic need to line it with something like Nomex; good for small cavities because it is so pliable it gives the cavity a spongy quality; possible to re-use it if its ok quality not inert; deteriorates over time; must be lined with something; good for temporary uses (i.e. crates) or outer crates; Crates should be opened when possible to not let volatiles accumulate inside the crate thermal insulation (high R value compared to Ethafoam); open cell: hygroscopic because a lot of surface area
Polyvinyl chloride thermoset closed-cell flexible, durable, high density, resistant to water, oil and chemicals; produces noxious gases when hot gaskets; weatherstripping; flooring, outdoor and marine applications PVC Foam
Silicone closed-cell low density solid that provides excellent thermal insulation, resilience and flexibility; performs well at extreme temperatures; resistant to ozone and UV cushions, seals, insulation Spaceloft insulation; Grey Silicone PSG; Bisco BF
Starch water-soluble; biodegradable; difficult to make smooth Biodegradable packing peanuts

Synonyms and Related Terms

cartón pluma (Esp.); plaque de plastique expensé (Fr.); foamboard; foam board; mounting board

Other Commercial Products: Foam Core; Artcare; Fome-Cor®; Gatorfoam®

Collection Risks

Foamboards vary widely in their potential for off-gassing hazardous materials and should be tested prior to use. Boards containing beaded polystyrene may release beads from cut edge.

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