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What is Polyurethane Foam Used For?

In today’s world, it seems as if consumers have more products available to them than ever before. Once you start taking a closer look at many things, you’re likely to notice they are made of polyurethane foam. An extremely versatile material, the number of possible uses makes this material commonly used in places that are both expected and unexpected.

Cleaning Products

When you look around and wonder what is polyurethane foam used for, one of the first places you should look closely is your cleaning cabinet. Since polyurethane foam is so durable and easy to make into virtually any shape, it is used in a wide range of home and commercial cleaning products. Common uses include household sponges and scrubbers, magic cleaning products with Melamine, auto care products, and even tire shine applicators.

Medical Devices

Medical-grade polyurethane foam is used to fabricate a wide variety of essential medical devices. The combination of biocompatibility and flexibility makes polyurethane foam one of the most important ingredients in the making of medical devices, such as molded devices like neck braces and braces for appendages like fingers, legs, and arms. It’s also widely used to fabricate blood filtration devices that are used to collect blood and blood plasma, as well as to give people life-saving transfusions. Another common use is EKG pads, which are used to administer electrocardiogram tests to patients in distress. For wound care materials, nothing beats polyurethane foam for its absorbent qualities and resistance to bacteria. In hospitals, it is in heavy use in pre and post-op scrubbers, positions, and cushions, which are used to make patients more comfortable or to protect delicate bones and muscles.

Packaging Materials

The open-cell molecular structure of polyurethane foam makes it a smart choice for packaging materials. The polyurethane foam is readily molded and adapted for use in a range of protective packaging for sensitive products and items that can easily be damaged during handling and shipment. Polyurethane foam is commonly used as a fill material to fill space gaps in boxes, crates, and other shipping containers. The packaged items can also be readily accessed when the container is opened, due to the accessible nature of the material itself.

Aviation Materials

The next time you step onto an airplane, look around you. Polyurethane foam’s insulation properties make it the go-to material for sound dampening in both large and small aircraft. From a tiny two-seater to a Boeing, you’ll find that polyurethane foam earns its wings. It’s also an important component of aircraft safety since it is used as a high fire-retardant foam. That extra amount of fire-retardant material often makes the difference between someone having time to escape an emergency situation or not.

Buildings and Sculptures

Polyurethane foam is also used when building homes or other structures that include odd or unusual shapes. Unlike wood and other traditional building materials, polyurethane foam is easier to shape, cut, and mold into different forms. As a result, it is often used in building domed ceilings, as well as for sheer decorative purposes. It’s also very popular to use as wall insulation material and is found in most new homes today. Finally, you may find it at your favorite theme park, since this material is widely used to construct statues and decorations at theme and amusement parks nationwide.

Boats and Surfboards

When you are out on the water catching that next big wave or trying to land that whopper of a fish, polyurethane foam is right there with you each step of the way. In fact, many of the world’s top surfboards rely on this material. To create a surfboard, polyurethane foam is molded and shaped to a certain specification, then the board is covered with fiberglass cloth and sealed with polyester resin. Also, many boat hulls use tough foam cores, which are placed between fiberglass skins. In doing so, this makes the boat’s hull stronger and more resistant to possible damage, as well as gives the boat more buoyancy.

Recording Studios

In a recording studio, it is extremely important for there to be as little background noise as possible. Otherwise, your favorite songs would not sound nearly as good. Thus, when many recording studios are constructed or renovated, polyurethane foam is used because it has been shown to be very effective at the deadening sound. Like homes and other buildings, polyurethane foam used in recording studios includes inside walls and ceilings for its acoustic and insulation properties.

Plant Substrates

Since polyurethane foam is great at absorbing water, is lightweight, and easy to shape and mold into various sizes, it has found a surprising use for roof gardens and vertical gardens that are becoming very popular in large cities. While being able to hold substantial amounts of water, it can do so while still being very lightweight, making it a perfect material for a rooftop purpose.

Concrete Repair

Having found its way into various types of construction uses, it’s only natural that polyurethane foam is now being looked at as a potential material to use when repairing concrete. In fact, various types of foam and related materials have been used in repairing roads and bridges for over 30 years. As engineers toy with it more and more, they are finding it can also be useful in repairing sidewalks, garage floors, patios, and even driveways. It is arguably the most versatile material ever invented by mankind.

Contact Us For More About Polyurethane Foam

For more information about using polyurethane foam in your next project, consult the experts at Reilly Foam. Our representative will be able to assist you with ideas for incorporating them into your fabrication design, packaging material, or construction project.


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Our goal at Reilly Foam is to recycle anything and everything that is not fabricated so it can go on to have a second life elsewhere. 100% of our scrap materials are collected and bailed together. We then send our scrap materials out, either back to our suppliers or to other companies that will take them to use in recycled products!

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