Rotational molding foam filling is a secondary process that involves injecting a polyurethane foam into the hollow cavity of a rotomolded part. In addition, rotational molding foam filling is used in a wide range products such as ice coolers, buoys, refrigerator components, and reinforced structural components.
The foaming can improve the density and strength, extend the cooling time, add buoyancy and decreases fuel permeation for the products. It exists many foaming material to use in different application.
Foam filling is a unique three step process. First, a double walled rotationally molded plastic product must have the appropriate vents installed to allow the air inside the part to be displaced. Second, the part is held in a specially made fixture which maintains the part’s form to prevent it from deforming when the rapidly expanding foam is injected into the part. Three the polyurethane foam is injected into the rotomolded part at a high pressure to ensure the part is fully filled.
Polyurethane (PU) Foam
Injected into a cavity in the final rotomolded part, with the aim of completely filling it. Typically, a fully cooled part is contained inside a foaming fixture and the foam components (polyol and isocyanate) are mixed and injected through a special nozzle. The creation of the PU Foam is extremely rapid, once the components are fully mixed. PU Foams have very low density (typically 0.050 g/cm³), which gives them excellent heat insulation properties. They are also used to add buoyancy to marine components. There is no bond between the PU and the PE part and de-lamination of the foam is instantaneous. The PU Foam does not impart any additional stiffness to the product.
Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) Foam
Created in a cavity in the final rotomolded part, with the aim of completely filling it. Typically, a fully cooled part is contained inside a foaming fixture and pre-expanded EPS beads are poured inside the part. Steam lances are then inserted into the part and the associated heat further expands the beads. This process takes time (typically tens of minutes) to complete. EPS Foams have low density (typically 0.150 g/cm³), which give them moderate heat insulation properties. However, they are mainly used to add buoyancy to marine components. There is no bond between the EPS and the PE part. The EPS Foam does not impart any additional stiffness to the product.
Created in a cavity in the final rotomolded part, with the aim of completely filling it. These are composite materials; for rotomolded applications they usually consist of an epoxy-based polymer matrix with hollow glass spheres suspended in it. This structure provides low density and very high stiffness / crush resistance. The density can be adjusted over a wide range, but when used in rotomolded products, it is typically in the range 0.400-0.500 g/cm³. The main application is for subsea flotation devices (eg flotation collars around undersea pipelines), where they impart high resistance to crushing by water pressure. There is no bond between the PU and the PE part and de-lamination of the foam is instantaneous.
Which differs significantly from other types. PE Foam is generally added as a second charge during the molding process, when an outside skin of standard solid PE has already been formed. In this case, the aim is not normally to completely fill the cavity; rather, the aim is to produce a second layer of even thickness around the inside of the rotomolded part. This imparts a degree of extra stiffness and a degree of heat and sound insulation (although significantly less that Options 1&2). There is a full bond between the PE Foam and the outside PE skin. The density of PE Foam can be adjusted over a limited range, the minimum practical density that can be achieved is approx. 0.200 g/cm³ and the maximum density is, theoretically, the density of the PE used in its formulation (i.e. zero foaming).
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Ask Dr. Nick: A Basic Review of Foam in Rotational Molding