Foam is one the most common core material used in many industries due to their excellent physical properties and resistant to temperature difference and moisture resistance. Foam core materials are manufactured by using polyurethane, polystyrene, polyvinylchloride foams. The foam core material can be segmented on the basis of type of materials used as foam. Foams are available in various densities; ranging from less than 30/kg to more than 300/kg. Foams are also available in a variety of thickness; ranging 5mm to 50 mm. Foam thickness and densities varies according to type of industry and end product being manufactured. Therefore, the demand of foam varies according to end user industry demand.
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Foam core material has huge demand in the industry due to their specific qualities. Each type of foam material has its own specialty. For instance, PVC foams are one of the common foam material used in various industries. They are closed-cell, good physical properties and are moisture resistant. PVC foams are better than the other foams of similar density. Furthermore, PVC foams are available in variety of densities from 3pcf to 25pcf. Additionally, PVC foams can be formulated in rigid or ductile version. Rigid PVC foams are referred to as cross-linked, and have higher heat and solvent resistance than ductile foams. They do not get brittle at cold temperature and can be used in cryogenic applications too. PVC foams are extensively used as core material in the marine, surface transport, wind energy industries and aerospace due to their constant density, high moisture resistance and excellent physical properties
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Other popular type of foam core material used in the various industries is polystyrene foams, they are extensively used in sail and surf board manufacturing procedure. However, polystyrene foams cannot be used in conjunction with polyester resin system as polystyrene is easily dissolved by the styrene present in the resin. Polymethacrylimide foams at a given density offer some of the highest overall strengths and stiffnesses of foam cores. Styrene acrylonitrile (SAN) co-polymer foams are similar to cross-linked PVC foams. Recently, PVC foams are being replaced by styrene acrylonitrile in many applications due to better toughness and elongation properties than PVC foams. Polyurethane foams are used in composite constructions. End-grain balsa is widely used in core materials, it has relatively high compression strength due to migroscopic level it has a honetcomb type of structure.
Foam core material also has a prime application in aircraft industry. In aircraft industry, Foam core material is used due to the minimal weight. Building structures that are light weighted; delivers weight savings that improves aircraft efficiency without sacrificing structural strength. Thus, the demand of core materials material is rising and the demand is projected to remain consistently high. For instance, foam core application is also increasing in flight control surfaces, rotor blades, radomes and satellite containment fairings.
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The increasing demand for new materials with higher strength to weight ratio has created a dramatic growth in sandwich composite technology. Recently, lightweight wood based foam core panels are manufacture by many companies to support the increasing demand of light weight composites. Expandable microspheres and expandable polystyrene are being used as core materials. The key companies involved in production varios foam core materials are Armacell Enterprise GmbH & Co. KG, The Dow Chemical Company, BASF, Ashland Incorporation and others.