Open or Closed Cell Foam: How to Choose

​When you are choosing the type of foam for your project, you will need to consider several properties. In addition to deciding the foam material, pore size and the density, you may also have to decide whether open cell or closed cell foam is better. Both Open Cell and Closed Cell foams can easily have adhesive applied on them. The right one to pick will depend on the application at hand.

Terminology: Open Cell and Closed Cell

Open celled foam is made up of porous, interconnecting cells or bubbles. These cells can be produced by the foaming operation along with having their membranes removed using a post-reticulation process. Closed cell foam has chambers that are completely closed off from the neighboring ones. No exchanges of gases can take place.

Which to Use When

Open cell foam is softer and more pliant. They are often used in cushioning and padding in furniture, boat cushions, car seats and other applications. They make a highly effective packing material. They are also a great choice for applications where airflow is a necessity, including speakers, small engines, compressors, air conditioning, vacuum cleaners, face masks and hair dryers. Open cell foam makes an excellent insulating material for reducing noise in everything from microwave covers to industrial machines. Poron® is also an open cell urethane used for gaskets, seals, spacers, cushion pads, vibration/motor mounts.

Open Cell foam functions & applications:

  • Holding or wicking a liquid
  • Filtering dust from the air
  • Low-pressure gasket for dust, light, vapor, and water
  • Acoustical absorption
  • Vibration dampening
  • Craft brushes
  • Make-up puffs
  • Whiteboard erasers
  • Floor scrubbers

Closed Cell foam tends to be more dense and more rigid. Water and other liquids cannot enter the foam chambers. Closed cell foams come in a number of materials that include PVC, cross-linked polyethylene, sponge rubbers, and others. Softer closed cell foams like Polyethylene foam have great shock absorption and buoyancy, but over time will take a set and not rebound to its original thickness.These foams are highly flexible, and can be used in automotive, household insulation, and appliance applications.

Closed Cell Foam can be used in:

  • Gaskets
  • Seals
  • Automotive dunnage
  • Cervical collars
  • Floor underlayment
  • Joint & building filler strips
  • Boat decking
  • Insulation in hot tubs
  • Pool noodles
  • Flotation devices
  • Sporting equipment
  • Exercise mats

By starting with the right type of foam for your project, you can better assure your items functionality and durability. Talk to one of our consultants today about custom fabrication. We can get you started with the right materials for a successful and high-quality project.