XPE Foam is a closed-cell, cross-linked polyethylene foam material used for various applications, particularly in the automotive industry, as a lightweight alternative for interior components, and also as an aid to noise reduction.
The ‘X’ in XPE foam is to show that XPE foam is a cross-linked foam, which means the polymers, or chains of molecular units of the foam material, bond together by crossing in a repeating pattern. The repeating, cross-linked pattern in foam materials like XPE, gives it various properties, including the ability to bear heavy loads and return to its original form, and to stretch without excessive degradation.
The PE in XPE foam stands for Polyethylene, and represents the low-density polyethylene resin used as the raw material in the production of XPE foam, whether in roll form or block form.
XPE foam or crosslinked polyethylene foam is equipped with a range of standout properties, making it ideal for use in industries, including automotive, refrigeration, packaging, shoe manufacturing etc... The properties of XPE foam include:
Cushioning – This cushioning property of XPE foam allows it to absorb and reduce the effects of impact, making it an ideal packaging solution for sports shoe components or medical foam etc.
Sound absorption – The phenomenal sound absorption property of XPE foam makes it one of the most widely used foam types for the reduction of noise in various automotive components.
Heat insulation – Another key property of XPE foam is its ability to insulate against heat, another reason it’s often used in industries including automotive and packaging.
Water-resistance – XPE foam is exceptionally resistant to water and moisture exposure, making it highly adaptable to pipe insulation, expansion joints, and for refrigeration components.
Formability – XPE foam is extremely easy to cut and shape using various machining methods, making it one of the best solutions for the manufacture of intricate packaging.
Odourless – Because XPE foam is odourless and non-toxic, its uses range from sports and yoga matting, to foam handles, and food packaging.
Yes. XPE foam has an extremely high fire rating and satisfies the UL94 test - a flammability test under laboratory conditions for plastic/foam materials, to measure the ability of the plastic/foam to extinguish the flame and stop dripping behaviour, after ignition from radiant heat or a small flame.
The fire retardancy of XPE foam makes the material ideal for use in components that are likely to reach high temperatures, such as high-powered motors in various machines used in construction or the automotive industry.
The key difference between XPE and IXPE foam is in the cross-linking process during manufacturing. XPE foam is cross-linked with the addition of a cross-linking agent, whereas IXPE foam is cross-linked by an electron accelerator.