What are products with loads and what impact do they have on the market?
In today's Learning Zone, we talk about another taboo topic in our industry: using loads in foam production. For many, this is a wrong and unfair practice for the customer, but due to lack of industry regulation, it has become commonplace.
Loads are products added to foam to change or improve some of its properties, such as density and hardness. Although it does not participate in the chemical reaction of foam production, the load can impact density and hardness by adding weight and substance to the final product. However, it has no impact on other properties, essentially those related to the mechanical strength of the foam and its durability, such as compression set, elongation and tear resistance.
The impact of the loads on foam properties is apparent. In fact, the increase that the load causes in density and hardness of the foam does not reflect its polymeric structure or bonds, but the load that is deposited in the foam instead.
A foam without loads has more mechanical strength than a foam with added loads. Thus, foams with seemingly similar properties can have different mechanical resistance capabilities and therefore varying degrees of "quality".
The inclusion of loads gives foam manufacturers immediate advantages in the price charged (kg/m3) and in reducing formulation costs, because the price of materials used as loads is much lower than the raw materials used for foam production. Consequently, using loads is beneficial for foam producers because they can sell a higher density and hardness foam at a lower production cost, knowing, however, that its quality will be compromised. Some examples of products used as fillers are calcium carbonate or ethylene polyephthalate.
Traditionally, the customer associates certain density and hardness values with a specific mechanical strength. However, in the case of foams with loads, their density and hardness do not correspond to the associated mechanical resistance. Unfortunately, these foams have lower mechanical strength and therefore will result in products with lower quality than desired.
At Eurospuma, we do not use loads to guarantee the real properties of the foams we produce. Additives such as graphene, copper, or titanium, which we add to some of our technical foams could be confused with these loads. However, these are valid additives used to empower our innovations portfolio with revolutionary properties, such as heat dissipation, and not to impair their density and hardness properties.