The majority of foam rubber is made up of the following basic materials: 50% polyol, 40% polyisocyanates, and 10% water/other chemicals – these reactive materials contribute to the foam manufacturing process.

With this in mind, manufacturers need to be aware of the correct, responsible production and risk management for foam production. This guide breaks down the risks, preventative measures and responsibilities that are taken into account in this industry.

How is foam made?

There are two basic types of foam and its production varies from a continuous process for producing laminate or standard sizes, or a batch process for producing varied shapes through cutting or moulding. MSA specialises in both types of foam production, saving your organisation time and money with our custom foam and DIY foam options.

Foam is created by producing gas bubbles in a plastic mixture using a blowing agent. The three materials that are used in foam production are made up of polyol, polyisocyanates, and other reactive chemicals that need to be treated with respect and caution in the workplace. Once well combined, the mixture is placed onto a conveyor belt and passed through a foaming head.

Polyurethane foam products

Polyurethane is a type of plastic that comes in a variety of shapes found in foam production. It can be designed to be firm or flexible, and it is the material of choice for a wide range of products, such as insulation for buildings and cushioning for furniture.

The organic chemical compounds used in foam production means the industry has implemented a number of safety standards to protect the health and well-being of employees and factory workers. Unsafe practices can lead to exposure to chemicals that increase the risk of cancer and scarring through varicose veins.

Risk management for foam

There are a number of practices that companies need to adhere to in order to protect their employees on the production line. Whilst there are literal processes and building requirements that need to be a priority, personal responsibility is also important. Employees are required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE), such as respirators – these aid in reducing the number of fumes absorbed by employees.

Alongside PPE, employees will commonly be given extensive training on how to work with these chemicals, including controls for production, off-loading, and emergency shut down in line with safety measures, too. Controls for stack engineering and scrubber technology are also common in such environments.

Good ventilation systems are essential for mitigating the impact of isocyanate emissions – isocyanates are a group of highly-reactive chemicals. This is achieved by capturing and removing harmful vapours from the production line using extremely powerful exhaust systems, ensuring that no more than 1.6 ounces of isocyanate per tonne of polyurethane foam are emitted. Excess Isocyanate emissions are correctly regulated using stack engineering systems.

Why you should invest in foam inserts with MSA

Combining the proper foam inserts with a protective case is critical for safeguarding a variety of important objects, from specialised tools to expensive cameras and accessories. Our cutting-edge foam design services enable you to totally customise your foam inserts to meet your exact specifications, putting it in the capable hands of our skilled staff who can build custom foam inserts to satisfy your criteria.

We work with the following industries: Aerospace, Automotive, Broadcast, Defence, Energy & Renewables, Engineering, Marketing and Medical. So whatever your needs for making suitable protective covers with foam inserts, we can help. Please contact a member of the MSA team, who would be pleased to assist you with any further queries.