Most designers are fully aware of the important role that material plays in their design, but many overlook the need for — or the potential of — using multiple materials when a design is particularly complex. Bringing in another material can complement a design’s primary ingredient. Designing products with injection molded foam offers an easy way to drastically improve the fit and finish of the final product.
PopFoam is a versatile medium on its own, but it also plays well with others.
When used in conjunction with other product design materials, PopFoam’s unique properties can multiply a designer’s options.
Properties of PopFoam
PopFoam expands when it pops out of a mold, and as the part cools, it shrinks back down to its final size. That gives designers a chance to surround hard plastics or other materials with soft PopFoam, which then shrinks and adheres to the other material — like a sleeve around an axel.
PopFoam also creates strong bonds with other materials, such as plastics, which makes it a perfect choice for adding a soft feel to high-touch areas in a design. It’s lightweight, durable, and easy to clean, making it an ideal choice to offset the wear and tear your end product will inevitably experience. PopFoam can also be bonded or stitched to fabrics, meaning it can protect backpacks or work bags as well.
And because PopFoam can be molded with undercuts, it’s well-suited to the task of encasing another product (think tablet or laptop cases), and its combination of softness and durability ensures long-term protection for whatever fragile product is cocooned inside.
Personally, I love using PopFoam just for its visual properties: Whether it’s the contrast between hard and soft or the simple use of an accent color, it can make your product pop (pun intended).
Really, the only limit on PopFoam’s possible applications is your imagination.
Assessing PopFoam for Your Application
To help jump-start your imagination, I’ll quickly run through some PopFoam resources that can help your project. The best way to determine whether PopFoam is right for your design application is to contact its engineering and manufacturing experts. It’s a good idea to do this in the design conception stage.
Reading this blog and the others on the PopFoam site is a good place to begin familiarizing yourself with the product and its many potential uses. Testing your design idea can help tell you how PopFoam might work for you, and looking at other products produced with PopFoam — whether as a primary or complementary material — will help give you an idea of its versatility. PopFoam also has design resources available to cover the basic rules of the material.
If you think PopFoam's product design materials could be a good fit — even if you’re not 100 percent sure — reach out to the team with a description of what you’re trying to achieve, whether it’s a basic drawing or a finished CAD file.
The properties of PopFoam have allowed me, as a designer, to bring ideas to life that other foam factories simply can’t, and the team’s guidance and insight is always helpful.
Even if you think another product material might work better as your design’s base ingredient, PopFoam offers some complementary features that are worth exploring. As a designer, I find it impossible to make a crucial decision about a new material without first holding it in my hands and playing around with it. PopFoam can provide pre-made sheet samples just for this purpose.
Sporting equipment, tools, shoes, gloves, bags, dog toys, electronics cases — in one way or another, PopFoam can fit into just about any design you can dream up.