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A Rose Is a Rose Is a Rose, But All Foam Is Not Created Equal

  • October 06, 2017
  • | by randy millwood

When potential customers come to us looking for a design partner to bring their ideas to life, they usually have two main concerns: consistency in part size and shape and the delivery schedule.

But more recently, we’ve seen an interest in material traceability.It makes sense: Designers want to ensure the products they’re bringing to market are going to be high-quality and safe for their end users. I’ve been working with closed-cell foam materials, foam-molding processes, and specialty materials and applications for more than 17 years now. In other words, I’ve been around the block — and I’ve seen the difference that manufacturing high-quality foam products can make.

 

The PopFoam Difference

 

We’ve found over the years that starting with better ingredients for our compounds yields much better results in the end. That’s why we require our compounder to use name-brand raw materials in all of our compounds, and that affords us a few key benefits over competitors:

  • Part size:Many of our parts have a relationship with some other fitment, and therefore, sizing is key. Low-quality raw materials will constantly generate parts with sloppy tolerances — therefore increasing the rejection rate and driving up part cost.
  • Part shape: We consistently make the same part over and over, which is a bit of an art. Quality raw materials help mitigate repeat processes, reducing time to production and lowering the scrap rate.
  • Delivery timing: “Quality in, quality out” increases our ability to get to market faster.
  • Safety: Our company manufactures many products for children, pets, and athletes that use our PopFoam NT, which certifies our compound does not contain lead, heavy metals, or phthalates. Other foam molders shortcut processes just to get to the lowest cost. They might use cheaper chemicals and fillers to make their compounds, and that can alter the toxicity of an end product.

 

Standing Above the Rest

 

Our process is often referred to as EVA injection molded foam, which is mostly used in footwear. Running shoes in the ’80s began the surge in production for EVA foam molding. All shoe companies use their own compounds and have experimented with numerous formulations to achieve comfort, weight, and durability.

PopFoam creates formulations for each customer. So while a footwear manufacturer is making the outsoles and midsoles of a shoe, we create specific compounds for much more varied products.

For example, when Tim Jahnigen, the founder of the One World Futbol, approached us, he wanted a certain hardness and bounce to his ball as well as a specific deflation and reinflation. To help him achieve his goal of distributing indestructible balls to refugee children, we not only created a special mold and fixture, but we also developed a compound specifically to meet his specifications. The end result was a soccer ball that is lightweight, ultra-durable, nontoxic, and extremely long-lasting.

Additionally, a massage roller company approached us, asking whether we could create a product with rebound, low compression set, and a specified hardness. What’s more, given that the product comes in direct contact with users’ skin, the roller also needed to be made from nontoxic material.

Unfortunately, few EVA factories certify that their material meets the standard nontoxic requirements. In fact, the managing director of a dog toy company told me that some dog toys are not certified as nontoxic, which is concerning. If a dog-owning family has small children, any toy on the floor is going to get played with, even the dog’s slobber-covered artificial bone.

We find that our customers and product developers are relieved to know we’re committed to ensuring they can deliver safe, durable products to their customers. Evaluate all material options and choose the one that best suits your product’s needs. We wager it will most likely be PopFoam.

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