Frequently Asked Questions About Foam | Polyformes Ltd

Frequently Asked Foam Questions



Primary Products - Foam Sheets and Cut Pieces

  • Are all full sheets trimmed?
    • Only laminated sheet is trimmed, unless otherwise requested, to remove the overlap created in the process.  There is an extra cost if you require the sheets to be trimmed square & accurate as this involves more time. If the sheets are left untrimmed you may get a better yield but we cannot guarantee this beyond our tolerances.

  • What are laminations?
    • To increase the thickness of the raw material we heat weld/laminate sheets together.  We can offer such competitive prices as we maximise yield.  Laminating allows us to achieve this.   If you do not want a faint but visible join in your material, you must specify this when requesting a quote but this may cost more. To produce most grades of Plastazote and Evazote over 30mm thick we must laminate. There are greater tolerances on the length and breadth of laminated sheets.

  • Do you charge for samples?
    • For sheet material we offer small swatches that can be despatched in the post.  Anything larger would constitute an order or development sample which would be chargeable.

  • Is a quote conditional on quantity?
    • We will always offer price breaks where bulk savings can be passed on. If you order less than you were quoted, your order may need to be re-priced.

  • Do I have to order in yield quantities?
    • Yes, if you want the best possible price, you must order in yield quantities to minimise waste.  We do however reserve the right to complete the contract within +/- 10% of the ordered quantity to cover manufacturing anomalies. If you need exact quantities, this must be made clear at the time of ordering.

  • How are our goods delivered?
    • We either use our own transport or overnight third party carriers.  We do expect our customer to be able to off-load pallets. Our standard packaging for sheets is black polythene/shrink wrap. To reduce waste, we may reuse packaging material.  Specific packaging requirements (such as bubblewrap, pallet size etc.) must be specified at the time of ordering and may incur additional costs.

  • Do you have a minimum quantity/order value?
    • Yes.  Our minimum order charge for primary sheet material and cut pieces is £100 nett and excluding carriage & VAT.

  • What are your lead times?
    • The despatch date from Polyformes or the date it is ready for collection will be on our Order Acknowledgement.  Subject to sufficient stock, this is generally 3-4 days from confirmation of order. For non-account customers, all lead times are from receipt of payment. Most goods are shipped on an overnight service so would generally be with you the day after the despatch date shown.



Manufactured Products - CNC Routed Foams

  • Do you charge for samples?
    • As a rule we will charge the tooling/programming cost and for the 1st off sample from the overall order quantity for CNC routed foams. Depending on the product and order, sometimes we will supply an foc sample.

  • What are your approval procedures?
    • For new (not repeat) orders, a 1st off pre-production sample is despatched which we ask you to approve prior to production. At your discretion we can dispense with this procedure but, as we do not recommend it, we insist that you indemnify us. We are ISO 9001 accredited and we can work to accurate engineering drawings or electronic drawings (preferably DXF files), but experience has shown us that there is no substitution for a customer appraising a 1st off sample, particularly if you are unfamiliar with the performance and tolerances of the material.

  • What if the sample is not what we want?
    • Any modification that requires a change in blank size will need to be re-quoted. If you are responsible for modification you will be charged.

  • Is a quote conditional on quantity?
    • We will always offer price breaks where bulk savings can be passed on.  If you order less than you were quoted, your order may need to be re-priced.

  • Do I have to order in yield quantities?
    • Yes, if you want the best possible price, you must order in yield quantities to minimise waste.  We do however reserve the right to complete the contract within +/- 10% of the ordered quantity to cover manufacturing anomalies. If you need exact quantities, this must be made clear at the time of ordering.

  • How are our goods delivered?
    • We either use our own transport or overnight third party carriers. We do expect our customer to be able to off-load pallets.  Our standard packaging is black polythene/shrink wrap/cartons. To reduce waste, we may reuse packaging material.  Specific packaging requirements (such as bubble wrap, pallet size etc.) must be specified at the time of ordering and may incur additional costs.

  • Do you have a minimum quantity/order value?
    • Yes. Our minimum order charge for all manufactured goods is £250 nett excluding tool/program costs, carriage & VAT.

  • What are your lead times?
    • Where manufactured goods require 1st off approval, we quote on our Order Acknowledgement, a despatch date for the 1st off.  This is generally 5-7days from confirmation of order. The balance of the order is generally 7-10 days from receipt of approval. This production run is subject to manufacturing capacity. The sooner you approve, the sooner we can complete the order.  For non-account customers, all lead times are from receipt of payment. Most goods are shipped on an overnight service so would generally be with you the day after the despatch date shown.



Manufactured Products - Compression Moulded Foam (Thermoforming)

  • Do you charge for moulded samples?
    • As a rule we will charge the tooling/programming cost and for the 1st off sample from the overall order quantity for CNC routed foams. Depending on the product and order, sometimes we will supply an foc sample.

  • What is a single part tooling cost?
    • If a customer provides the tooling himself he would have full title.  All tooling that is produced by Polyformes Ltd. is charged on a single part-tool basis only. The tooling will be used exclusively for your work but you will not have full title to the tools, even when you pay the invoice.  The value of the tooling is in two parts.  As well as the physical cost of manufacture, there is our origination and design.  The tooling will include intellectual property and infer proprietary manufacturing techniques unique to Polyformes Ltd. which we would not sell as it could be commercially useful to our competitors if the tooling were to leave our premises. Tooling is invoiced when a 1st off is produced from it.

  • How long do you keep moulding tools?
    • Tools that are not used for two years are destroyed.

  • What are your approval procedures?
    • For new (not repeat) orders, a 1st off pre-production sample is despatched which we ask you to approve prior to production.  At your discretion we can dispense with this procedure but, as we do not recommend it, we insist that you indemnify us.

  • What if the sample is not what we want?
    • If you are responsible for modification you will be charged to have the mould tool amended.

  • Is a quote conditional on quantity?
    • We will always offer price breaks where bulk savings can be passed on.  If you order less than you were quoted, your order may need to be re-priced, particularly if the cost of tooling is amortised into the unit price.

  • Do I have to order in yield quantities?
    • Yes, if you want the best possible price, you must order in yield quantities to minimise waste. We do however reserve the right to complete the contract within +/- 10% of the ordered quantity to cover manufacturing anomalies. If you need exact quantities, this must be made clear at the time of ordering.

  • How are our goods delivered?
    • We either use our own transport or overnight third party carriers. We do expect our customer to be able to off-load pallets.  Our standard packaging is black polythene or cartons. To reduce waste, we may reuse packaging material.  Specific packaging requirements (such as bubble wrap, pallet size etc.) must be specified at the time of ordering and may incur additional costs.

  • Do you have a minimum quantity/order value?
    • Yes. Our minimum order charge for all manufactured goods is £250 excluding tool costs, carriage & VAT.

  • What are your lead times?
    • For new orders we quote on our Order Acknowledgement a despatch date for the 1st off.  This is dependent on delivery of the tooling from third party suppliers.  Die cut tooling requires two ­ three working days.  Lead time for moulding tools depend on their complexity.  For prototype development, in some cases, we can offer cheaper and quicker “soft” tooling but any mass production will require more expensive “hard” tooling.  Any subsequent production run is subject to manufacturing capacity.  The sooner you approve, the sooner we can complete the order.  For non-account customers, all lead times are from receipt of payment.  Most goods are shipped on an overnight service so would generally be with you the day after the despatch date shown.



General Questions

  • What are your reject procedures?
    • If the goods have been damaged in transit, no claim will be accepted unless this is marked on the delivery paperwork.  For all rejects you have seven days to inform us of a problem.  If the goods are faulty they should not be used.  We require to inspect them in either the condition they were delivered or, at worse, in a state that we can salvage the raw material before we accept liability. Faulty goods will be credited, subject to inspection by us, and a new replacement order will be raised where necessary.  We do not accept consequential loss as we expect reasonable opportunity to remedy a problem.

  • Why are your general tolerances so wide compared to other material such as metal or wood?
    • Our tolerances reflect the physical qualities of the foam, not our ability to machine it. Whilst we have the engineering equipment to manufacture to a tighter tolerance, polyethylene foam is a thermoplastic material and as such responds to any change in ambient conditions. Our tolerances allow for this expansion & contraction under non­extreme conditions.  Alternative tolerances can be agreed before quotation; for example, for an insert or a cut piece, you may wish to specify no maximum or no minimum tolerance.

  • What are your carriage charges?
    • All prices quoted are ex works, including scheduled, call-off and kanban orders . Timed deliveries may incur extra charge.  If you want carriage amortised into the unit price you must request this at the time of quoting.  Please note that most carriers “volumise” foam shipments. Each schedule/kanban/call-off is treated as single order.  Additional carriage charges apply for private addresses or if within the London Congestion Charge zone. Our standard terms and conditions of supply apply to all our orders.  These FAQs are offered as clarification, not as a substitute.

  • How is foam manufactured?
    • Manufacturing the type of foam used for a number of different applications including foam packaging, foam inserts and foam seals (usually polyurethane), is a complex process combining six key components, which include:

      Polyols – A polyol is an organic molecule which helps produce the foams resistance to heat and chemicals.

      Diisocyanates – Diisocyanate compounds are used at varying levels during the foam manufacturing process, to help determine how rigid the foam will be, how water resistant it is, and how quickly it degrades.

      Blowing Agents – Blowing agents help to create and decide the foams cellular structure. These agents could either be chemical, such as boric acid or polycarboxylic acid, or physical agents, such as liquified CO2 or methyl chloride hydrocarbons.

      Surfactants – Surfactants help the foam to set and remain stable by controlling the cell size.

      Catalysts – Catalysts help to regulate the rate of gas generation, which helps prevent the foam shrinking as it cures.

      Cross-linkers and Chain Extenders – Cross linkers and chain extenders are used to help in the polyurethane curing process.

      The manufacturing process of polyurethane then happens in two parts. First the components are combined through a mixing head - a process where the components begin to foam and rise via processes of polymerisation and gas generation.

      This ‘foaming’ or ‘rising’ is then controlled using various foaming techniques and technologies, depending on the foams intended final use. Once all these processes are complete the foam is cured and made ready for cutting to manufacture foam materials and foam products.

  • What is foam packaging called?
    • Foam packaging has various names depending on the type of foam material its manufactured from. At Polyformes Ltd., we manufacture foam packaging from a range of different foam materials, including:

      Plastazote – Plastazote is a polyethylene based foam with characteristics such as durability, flexibility, water resistance, and mouldability, making it a perfect choice for foam packaging, particularly for electrical components.

      Stratocell – Stratocell is a polyethylene based foam ideally suited to packaging due to its lightweight (for transportation) and ability to be reused numerous times without any degradation.

      ARPLANK – ARPLANK is one of the best foams for absorbing and dissipating energy, which makes it one of the best types of foam for the packaging of delicate objects, such as electronic components, food products and antiques and artworks. Another key benefit of ARPLANK is that it’s 100% recyclable, which can help businesses reduce environmental waste.

  • Is foam good for packaging?
    • Yes, foam is one of the best forms of packaging for a variety of products, including food products, electrical products and whole range of other items that require protection during shipping. The key reasons foam is a superior packaging material are:

      Foam provides excellent cushioning – During the shipping process, your product is bound to be affected by sudden impacts and vibration. By using the right type of foam packaging, the effects of these shocks or vibrations are significantly reduced due to the foams unique cell structure that naturally absorbs and dissipates energy.

      Foam protects against extremes of temperature – Another potential issue that could arise during shipping is a significant change in temperature, which could have an adverse and sometimes dangerous effect on the product. The cell construction of certain types of foam will act to counter these changes in temperature, and help to regulate the immediate environment surrounding the product.

      Foam is extremely easy to form – Using a variety of foam processes, such as routing and machining, moulding and forming or waterjet cutting, foam packaging can easily be formed to very close tolerances, and made to fit and protect any product no matter what the shape or size.

  • Is polyethylene foam good for back pain?
    • Yes. Polyethylene foam materials, such as Plastazote or Evazote are commonly used in the manufacture of a number of foam products used in mobility and healthcare, including those used in the treatment of chronic and temporary back pain.

      Due to their ability to be formed to a patient’s body shape, pads, supports and headrests etc. manufactured using Plastazote or Evazote provide exceptional protection against impact, as well as the comfort and temperature control required for patients using the products for long periods.
  • Is polyethylene foam recyclable?
    • Yes. Categorised as a class 4 material, polyethylene foam is 100% recyclable. This means, that as a thermoplastic, polyethylene foam has the ability to be melted down, cooled and then reused.

      This recyclable characteristic of polyethylene foam, makes it an ideal material for foam packaging specifically, as other types of packaging materials can’t be remoulded, and have limited or underfunded sustainable disposal facilities.
  • Is polyethylene foam heat resistant?
    • Yes. Polyethylene foam is an exceptionally good heat resistant foam material, used in a number of products where heat insulation is vital, including commercial and industrial products and packaging, as well as military equipment and packaging.

      Some crosslinked polyethylene foams can withstand heat up 110°C, and are also flame retardant, helping products reach high performance levels to satisfy the tough demands of certain industries, such as plumbing, construction and electrical industries.
  • What is the most protective foam?
    • Polyethylene (PE) foam and polyamide foam are two of the most protective foam types available, and are used as foam packaging for a number of products requiring extreme protection from a various different risks, including:

      Vibration – During transport, whether by road, sea or air, prolonged vibration can be hugely detrimental to a variety of products, particularly electrical components, pharmaceutical products or ceramics.

      Polyethylene foam materials such as Evazote, Plastazote and ARPLANK, or polyamide foam ZOTEK® N, have superb cushioning and anti-vibration properties, as well as having the ability to be formed into intricate shapes, suited to most products.

      Moisture – many different products, particularly food, pharmaceutical, automotive products or fireworks etc., rely of a moisture free environment at all times, especially during transportation.

      Due to its closed-cell structure, polyethylene foam provides a high level of moisture and water-resistance, whilst also acting as an excellent thermal insulator, a prerequisite in the transportation of many food and medicinal products.

      Impact – During transportation, it’s sadly inevitable that packaged products will be at risk from impact, whether it’s due to pallets tipping over, boxes colliding or down to incorrect loading or unloading methods.

      Many polyethylene foam materials have been specifically created to absorb impacts. Plastazote for example, is a closed-cell foam material, consisting of individual, nitrogen-filled cells able to absorb repeated impact and still retain their original form.

      Heat and cold resistance – Resistance to extremes of temperature is vital when it comes to transporting a number of products, whether for the pharmaceutical industry, the food industry or the electronics industry.

      Although polyethylene foam has exceptionally good insulative properties, for products requiring protection from heat and cold, one of the best foam materials is ZOTEK® N, a polyamide foam able to withstand temperatures of up to 200°C+.


Any Other Questions

Should you have any other questions whatsoever with regard to our products, services or materials, please do not heistate to contact us on 01525 852444 - we will be pleased to be of assistance.