Expanding Your Thinking About Designing with Foam

  • February 22, 2018
  • | by Troy Lewis

First and foremost, designers think of foam as a functional material. It’s used to fill upholstery, insulate roofs, and package products. But it’s a mistake to think of foam only from this functional perspective.

These products, like upholstery or packaging, all utilize open-cell foam — a material sought after because of its disposable nature. Designers are able to make big, bulky products without worrying about the cost or the environmental impact. For creating new innovative products that aren’t made to be disposable, however, there are other EVA foam designs that offer many exciting applications.

Injection molded, closed-cell foam offers the same advantages as its open-cell equivalent — it’s lightweight, soft to the touch, waterproof, UV-resistant, and buoyant — while also being much more durable. That makes it ideal for applications where it’s exposed to the elements or in situations introducing regular wear and tear.

Most designers have not worked with an ultradurable foam product that’s also aesthetically appealing. As a result, they tend to underestimate just how complementary it is to a wide range of product designs. Now is the time to clear up that confusion.

Using Foam to Optimize Design

In practice, closed-cell foam is more than just a way to fill space. It marries the look and feel of a design with its form and function. Molded foam easily displays texture while being pleasant to touch. The color of the material is rich, bold, and consistent. The fit between joints and seams is precise and tight.

Closed-cell foam makes a product stronger and more durable while ensuring it remains aesthetically appealing. Therefore, designers are empowered to produce items with long-term utility rather than short-term appeal. This is where designing products with injection molded foam comes in.

Injection molded closed-cell EVA foam literally pops out of the mold, making a whole range of undercuts possible. The molding process requires less pressure, which helps to control mold costs. The finish is highly durable and ideal for printing logos, names, and textures. This supports designs that range in shape and size while being relatively easy and inexpensive to produce. Foam allows designers to be more creative and innovative with their work.

The Importance of Excitement in Product Design

Designers must meet specific targets, quotas, and deadlines, but their overarching goal is to create products that genuinely excite consumers.

That begins with how the product looks on the shelves and how the product feels when it’s first put to use. Its success is defined by how well the product performs over the long term. Products that solve persistent problems in inventive ways are exactly the kinds that consumers want to buy, gift, and recommend.

Whether or not a product delivers the all-around excitement that designers strive for depends largely on its material. Most products look great when they’re sitting on the shelf. But the aesthetics of a material no longer matter if it breaks down easily and underperforms. The consumer will consider it a bad purchase.

Designers don’t have to choose between cheap materials or bland designs. With a material like EVA closed-cell foam, it’s possible to design every detail with the end user in mind. As a result, consumers love how these products look — and they love how these products perform even more. Using closed-cell foam to create exciting products isn’t just possible; it’s probable.

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