When we begin conversations with prospects considering injection molded foam as an option, there’s always a point where the discussion leads to what the finished product will ultimately look like. Most designers and engineers are familiar with basic molding processes and through their experience can quickly grasp the options. Others that are new to manufacturing processes or just have never worked in plastics appreciate understanding more about how these feature details can be applied to injection molded foam.
Ultimately, it is this understanding that empowers designers to consider what colors, and textures will be available to them.
When Can You Consider Color and Texture?
Most 3D designs are initially drawn and reviewed displaying no texture, no logos, and in a standard CAD generated color. These designs are fluid and will likely be changed so investing the time in the final features is a bit premature. As the design gets closer to sign-off the color, texture, and logos can be implemented.
Where Do Color Numbers Come From?
Several companies have generated color matching systems in an effort to standardize color call-outs so color needs can be communicated across the creative process. One of the most popular is Pantone LLC’s PMS or Pantone Matching System. Pantone issues numbers for their PMS colors and most often you can search colors via the web and see a wide variety of offerings, but for a fee, Pantone will provide color selectors which reference 1000’s of colors that you can choose from. PopFoam’s process usually refers to the “un-coated” Pantone examples or reference numbers ending in “U.”
Surface Texture - Almost Just Like Molded Plastics
Since injection molded PopFoam was developed around the use of aluminum tooling; machining and finishing techniques have trickled down from molded plastics. This is where we gained the use of textures, which is a surface finish placed on the tooling that transfers to the finished part. Some textures are applied with simple processes like bead blasting while others with deeper texture are CNC milled into the surface. Resources for texture examples can be found via the web or by reviewing plaques we’ve used here on the PopFoam website. One notable effect that needs to be considered when reviewing plastics textures is that when molded in PopFoam the texture will be slightly larger in scale due to the expansion process of injection molded foam.
Big Opportunity to Brand and Label Your Foam Parts
PopFoam’s process allows for details in tooling that deliver crisp words and smooth logos, items which are not easily obtained in other foam molding processes. This is a high-pressure injection process which forces material into tight detail, so words and text are sharp. Low-pressure molding processes can trap air and lead to voids around text and tight fill areas making finished parts look incomplete. When logos and text can be molded in, the life of the brand will last much longer than printed parts.
PopFoam – More Pop for your Foam parts
Finished parts need to be great and deliver some WOW factor when the end-user puts them to use. PopFoam’s tough molded foam coupled with the finish details we have been discussing can provide long-lasting solutions to soft, flexible parts.
Randy Millwood is the National Key Account Manager at PopFoam and has been servicing the closed cell foam industry for over 20 years.