EPE Foam or Expanded Polyethylene Foam, refers to foams made from polyethylene. Typically, it is made from expanded pellets (EPE beads) with the use of a blowing agent. It has varied physical and chemical properties due to which this plastic has widespread use in the packaging industry.
Properties of EPE foam:
- EPE foam has no odour or taste and is a harmless plastic.
- It is light in weight and flexible.
- It is a very good shock absorber and provides the required cushioning to delicate objects.
- EPE foam has high thermal resistance. It can be heated and melted many times and can be reshaped into a new object due to the high EPE foam temperature range.
- Also, this foam is resistant to water, oils, and many chemicals. It is a very good insulation material. It is available in various sizes and densities according to its application or purpose.
- It is usually white in colour and a dye or colour pigment is added to make it colourful.
Applications of EPE foam sheets in flight cases:
- EPE is a very flexible material and gives maximum protection to oddly shaped objects. It can be designed and moulded in the shape of the contents of a flight case.
- During transit, a flight case/road case tends to get jerks because of the condition of the road on which it is moving. EPE foam is a closed cell foam, which allows it to take up more volume and be light weight. Thus it gives higher cushioning to the object it is covering and protects the contents from crashes.
- EPE has an edge over XPE foam because it quickly regains its original shape after object placed on it is removed. Thus the EPE foam which has been lined in the interior of a flight case retains its shape.
- It cannot be fragmented, damaged, broken or fractured. Thus it proves to be a strong and sturdy packing material for transport cases.
- It is impermeable and does not allow water or any other liquid to pass through it. It protects the package contents from getting damaged by water. This makes the road cases water proof.
- Some items tend to get damaged due to the heat of the sun during transportation. EPE has very low thermal conductivity and offers the best insulation against heat.
- EPE foam is fairly easy to use. It is easily cut, moulded, shaped and glued to other objects or to itself. It can easily be shaped into various objects without the use of expensive equipment or moulds. It can be effectively used for items which are small in size and have to be kept apart from each other in a road case.
- It is extremely light-weight and does not add to the weight of the flight case. This is particularly helpful where the contents of the road case are heavy.
- At times, medical equipment, scientific instruments, musical instruments, etc. require a thick sheet of packing foam. EPE foam is customizable and provides very good shock absorption to the delicate parts of machinery.
Although EPE foam is costlier than XPE and other foams, it is extensively used to provide protection from breakages/scratches to the contents of a flight case. It is environment friendly. It can be heated and reshaped into any size or form and can be reused. This foam neither needs to be burnt for disposal nor it should be dumped into land fillings. It can be melted and reprocessed.