Glossary of Foam Industry Terms

In the foam world, it is easy to get bogged down with the endless terms that you may come across. To help clear things up, we here at Foam Factory, Inc. have decided to put together a comprehensive list that breaks down and explains commonly used industry terms. With this Glossary, we hope to make the process of finding the right product a more enjoyable experience, without the headaches!

Acoustical Foam
Foam that is designed to attenuate or dampen vibrations and sound waves

Anti-Static Foam
Foam that has been merged with electrically conductive materials to prevent static electricity buildup and promote static dissipation

An agent that kills microorganisms or stops their growth

Amount of air that goes through a foam expressed in cubic feet per minute. Usually measured by drawing air through a 2”x2”x1” sample

The reduction of the intensity of a sound signal

Back Cushion Foam
Flexible foam used for the backs of furniture, usually a lower firmness than foam used for seating.

Gluing, adhering, laminating, or rebonding foam together

Amount of air that can pass through or be expressed, see: Airflow

This is the process of tying molecules together to form certain foam types.

Known as a bubble, or pore. This word refers to the cavities left in a foam structure after the bubble walls have completely polymerized as well as solidified, or, in some cases of foam, curled back and fused into the boundary joints, forming the skeletal structure. You’ll see this used to describe both closed-cell or open-cell foam

Cell Count
The number of cells, open or closed, per lineal inch or centimeter

Closed cell is a property of foam where each cell or bubble is sealed off completely and has no connection to any of its neighboring cells. Since the cells are sealed, water and gas cannot be exchanged between cells.

Clothbacked Foam
Clothbacked foam, or Remay, is a thin sheet of polyurethane foam with a fabric backing. It is commonly used for upholstery applications.

The weight of foam; typically expressed as lbs/cubic foot.

How well and how long the foam retains its comfort, support, and shape over time.

Polymers that resist and recover from deformation produced from force, like memory foam

Elongation is the measure of the extent to which the foam can be stretched before it begins to break. Elongation is often measured at the same time as tensile is determined

A tendency to soften under cyclic stress. For example, over the years, dense foam for cushions may flatten. Fatigue is often measured in samples by compressing and relaxing a flexible piece of foam and measuring how it changes.

Flame Retardant
Foam that has additives that allow it to be fire resistant, or burn slower than other materials.

High Resilience (HR) foam
Flexible polyurethane foam that has an exceedingly rapid recovery from extreme compression

Specifically created make allergic reactions unlikely.

Can absorb moisture

Resistant to moisture

ILD or Indentation Load Deflection (Surface Firmness)
A measure of the load-bearing capacity of flexible foam. ILD is usually measured as force (in pounds) required to compress 50 square inches. This is tested by compressing a 1 foot diameter indenter into a 24” x 24” x 4” sample until the foam has been compressed 25%

K Factor
A measure of the rate that heat flows through a material. Lower values indicate better insulation materials

Latex Foam
A latex rubber foam product not related to polyurethane foams

Polychloroprene, a synthetic rubber. Used in the creation of expanded rubber primarily for its resistance to oils and solvents

Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC)
A rating on how much sound an acoustic foam product can absorb.

A specific process that creates a foam that expands during the manufacturing phase. Open-cell foam is defined by cells that are not fully closed by walls, and are open to the surface. The primary characteristic is that water, air, or gas can pass through, much like a sponge. This type of foam is excellent for padding, cushioning, outdoor furniture, and applications where low compression is desired

Flexible polyurethane foam that has been glued together from two or smaller pieces. Commonly seen in cushioning to create special shapes or properties, or to make use of very small pieces during fabrication

An indicator of the surface elasticity or “springiness” of foam. See also, durability

The normal or natural mode of vibration of air through a foam or similar material

Support Factor
Also see comfort. The function of a foam that is also an indication of how much body a foam has and how much weight it supports when in contact with weight. The higher the number, the more supportive the foam will be

Tear Strength
Tear strength is a measurement of the force required to continue a tear after a split has formed.

Tensile Strength (PSI)
The testing of a foam’s tensile strength which applies to slab, bonded and molded flexible cellular urethane foams and measures how well the foam can be drawn, stretched or how well it performs under tension

Materials designed to keep liquids from entering a foam.