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Merryweather Foam Blog

Since 1948, we have been industry leaders in fabricating unique, foam components for customers in the medical, sound absorption, automotive, and unique packaging industries. At Merryweather Foam, we pride ourselves on our ability to combine experience, innovation, and excellent customer service. We have the knowledge, manpower & equipment to help you get the job done. Visit our website to see our fabrication portfolio as well as our capabilities.

What Can Pressure Sensitive Adhesive Lamination Do For You?

When you need cushioning, you choose foam. The compressible yet resilient bubbles trapped in elastic material absorb shocks and vibration, giving it thousands of uses from packaging to upholstery. Foam comes in a wide range of materials and ranges from firm and heavy to soft and light. There's a foam to suit every application, but it does have limitations: it can be difficult to fit or install, and it may not have the desired final appearance or surface properties.

The way around these problems is to specify a pressure sensitive adhesive (PSA) lamination for your foam fabrication. 

Overview of PSA foam lamination:
"Lamination" refers to adding one or more layers to a sheet or roll of foam. There are two reasons you might do this:

  1. To create a composite of two or more materials, combining the properties of foam with a second material.
  2. To make it easier to attach foam to a surface or to other foam pieces.
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All About Foam Convolution

Foam Convoluting is a process through which the surface of a piece of foam is customized to fit the requirements of a particular application. If a piece of foam in a hospital bed, for example, a unique pattern can be designed to allow for both levels of full body support and long-lasting comfort when compared to other options.

The Benefits of Foam Convolution
Foam Convoluting is a maximum yield process. Customizations to the foam are made specifically to provide the highest possible value given what a piece of foam will eventually be used for. If you use foam convolution to design a new piece of bedding, for example, the foam is customized in a way that will allow for things like:

  • Enhanced levels of air circulation.
  • Maximum support.
  • Increased comfort while still maintaining the desired level of support, and more.

It is for these reasons that flexible foam fabrication is often used across a wide range of industries, including in both bedding and healthcare, to create things like:

  • Acoustic applications, like use as sound treatment for a recording studio, thanks to their sound absorption properties.
  • Privacy panels that are more durable, more attractive and more versatile than concrete alternatives.
  • Office applications like ergonomic furniture, which creates a more comfortable environment for employees to maintain productive without sacrificing their health or stamina.
  • Insulation designed to eliminate drafts in a building, thus keeping cool air in during the summer and warm air in during the winter, increasing the energy efficiency of the whole building and decreasing utility bills at the same time.

Foam convolution is also often used in applications like sound management, acoustic treatment and similar products in an audio recording or other entertainment environment. Depending on the pattern being used, foam convolution can absorb mid and low range sound frequencies much better than alternative options.

The Materials Used in Foam Convolution
During this process, foam can be custom fabricated in one of four ways depending on the intended goal:

  • By pattern
  • By the total size of the pattern being worked with
  • By the depth of each intended cut that will be made
  • The spacing between multiple patterns that all come together to form a single piece.

In addition to the foam itself, a number of important materials are used during the foam convolution process. A specially designed divider is often used to slice a larger piece of foam down the middle, while at the same time also creating the specific pattern that will be present on the final product. A series of rollers move a piece of foam across the divider, allowing for the process to be largely automated after all of the initial design work has taken place.

By and large, foam convolution is one of the single best ways to achieve the results that you're after for a particular application. The products of foam convolution play an important role in the lives of millions of people on a daily basis - from acoustical engineers to patients in hospitals to people just trying to get a good night's sleep - and the process in general is something definitely worth celebrating. Questions about Foam Convoluting or other machine processes? Give us a call--we're happy to help!

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Thick Material? No Problem! We can cut with Pressurized Water

Our water jet cutting machines leaves clean, straight edges in thick foam. Try it on your next custom foam fabrication job.

Cutting soft materials like foam is hard. Try pushing in the blade of a knife and the material compresses. The thicker and softer the foam is, the more it deflects. The only way is to use the point of the knife: once the surface is pierced the blade can go through.

That's why we have a waterjet cutting machine. Like an incredibly sharp knife, it lets us cut complex profiles from soft materials up to 6" thick. If you need pieces for a flexible foam fabrication, talk to Merryweather about waterjet cutting.

Process basics

In waterjet cutting a needle-thin jet of water moving at near supersonic speed slices through soft material. By moving the jet over a sheet of material it's possible to cut out intricate two-dimensional shapes. Recessed pockets can't be cut with a waterjet though, because it goes all the way through. Instead, the way to make those is from two separate pieces of foam. Combining waterjet-cut pieces that way allows creation of almost any custom foam fabrication.

Why cut with water?

It's a fast way of cutting out large, complicated shapes. It's a clean process with no chemicals or hazardous wastes, and has many other useful characteristics too.

  • Pierce straight through so there's no need to cut in from the outside. Essential for creating contiguous shapes with hollow centers (as you'd need for a pocket.)
  • Cuts very square, even on materials like thick reticulated polyurethane foam, and leaves smooth edges needing little to no finishing.
  • Very narrow cut width or "kerf" thanks to the thin beam. This allows cutting of very intricate shapes and lets us nest shapes to use a sheet efficiently.
  • No sideways forces, so there's no material distortion. This also lets us cut very thin wall sections.
  • No heat, unlike laser cutting, so there's no unsightly edge melting or heat affected zone.
  • There's no tooling or fixturing. All that's needed is a program for the waterjet's computer, and that comes from the CAD of the shape needed.

When is waterjet cutting appropriate?
With no need for tooling, waterjet cutting is ideal for one-offs such as for prototypes or for custom applications needing only a few identical shapes. As a single point-of-cut process, it's not the fastest method but does yield excellent results on thick, soft materials like reticulated polyurethane foam. Waterjet machines are also capable of cutting out very large shapes: ours handles sheets of material up to 60" by 132".

Small quantities that look good
Materials that are thick and soft, like those you might use in a custom foam fabrication, are difficult to cut cleanly. When appearance matters, tooling-free waterjet cutting is a cost-effective method of producing the shapes you need. If you're interested in learning more, contact us today.

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