Reticulated polyurethane foam is a versatile, open-cell material that is light weight, low odor and high resistance to mildew. It's typically used to make products that are involved in filtration, sound absorption, fluid management, wiping and padding. This family of materials features high tensile, elongation and tear characteristics.
UFP Technologies has designed and fabricated a host of solutions using reticulated foams. This includes liquid delivery components for medical devices, sound absorption components in automobiles, cosmetic applicators, air conditioner filters, and sponges. Reticulated polyurethanes high resistance to chemicals makes it an ideal material for filtration applications such as in lawn mower engines or wipes used in clean rooms.
The porosity of reticulated foams is vital when designing a custom component or product. UFP Technologies' technical expertise will help guide you to selecting the proper material for your component.
Foam technology involves the manipulation of thousands of plastic bubbles (called cells) of precisely controlled sizes. Reticulation is a post process in foam manufacturing that removes the window membranes of the cell. The cells that make up the foam can have a number of variations, which can also be precisely controlled. Different foams have varying cell structures and characteristics, but foams from the same material family can also be made with vastly different density and firmness specifications that will greatly affect their performance.
There are two methods of reticulation: Thermal, called "zapping" and chemical, called "quenching." To learn about the differences between these two methods check out our blog post here.
Reticulated foam can act as a filter. Filter foam is a reticulated polyurethane foam, specially adapted to air and liquid filtration, in a range of controlled cells from 10 pores per inch to 100 ppi. Filter foam, with a medium porosity 45 PPI works as a depth loading filter, opposed to a surface loading filter, trapping dust particles within its cell structure. Because the reticulation process leaves behind the skeletal structure of the foam it is 97% void volume giving it a high degree of surface area for impingement of dust particles. With its homogeneous and uniform cell structure, a reticulated foam filter can be engineered for pressure drop and filtering efficiency by changing its pore size. A coarse porosity, 10 PPI, reticulated foam is effective as a sound attenuator, scrubber pad, washable filtration media for air conditioners, furnaces, small engines and automobile air cleaners, plus many other applications.
When reticulated foam is compressed, the material takes on a new set of properties ideal for other applications requiring high void volumes, uniform porosity, non-directional characteristics, exceptional breathability and uniform texture. Reticulated foam is often compressed and used for creating ink rollers, blood filters, and other products requiring wicking properties.