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The Ins & Outs of Foam Fabrication

Custom Case Manufacturing


Any stock case can be converted into a custom application with a foam interior. Foam is available in a variety of colors, densities, textures and chemical formulations. Materials include polyether and polyester urethane, polyethylene, cross-link foams and expanded styrenes.

The Different Foam Fabrication Processes

Foam inserts can be easily prototyped and when it comes to production, inexpensive cutting dies produce the most complex shapes. Layers of foam are laminated and trimmed to properly fit any case for protection and presentation.

The three fabricating processes are as follows:

Fabricated: Multiple pieces of foam are laminated together to create square- or rectangular- shaped cavities. Cases By Source recommends at least 2” of foam around the perimeter of the case, and 1”-3” between items depending upon their weight and size.

Die-Cut Foam: This custom interior is cut from a steel rule die formed to your exact specifications and is cost-effective for purchases of multiple cases that require identical foam interiors.

The die-cutting process.

Water Jet: This process of cutting foam uses a high-pressure water stream. The smallest details are easily cut with great accuracy. The cavity walls are straight at full depth unlike the die-cut method, which leaves the walls slightly bowed. There is no tooling charge, but there may be a computer programming charge.

Types of Foam Commonly Used

Polyurethane: The most common polymer used to make foam. Polyurethane foam has an elastic cell structure that provides a wide range of performance possibilities. This soft, open-cell foam is best for delicate and lightweight items.

Polyester/Polyurethane: This is an open-cell, flexible polyurethane foam ranging in density from 1.5# to 6#. It is also available in anti-static formulations.

Polyether/Polyurethane: This is a low-cost, highly resilient open-cell foam that is available in densities ranging from 1# to 1.8#. It is also available in anti-static formulations.

Polyethylene: This closed-cell foam will not absorb water or moisture. This firm, dense foam meets MIL P 26514, Type 1, Class 2 specifications. It is generally used with heavier products, and is great for positioning and cushioning. Polyethylene is impervious to most chemicals.

Crosslink/Polyethylene: A rigid polyethylene with little give and impervious to most chemicals. It is available in anti-static formulations. Crosslink is generally more expensive, but when aesthetics and durability are necessary, they should be considered. It is available in a variety of colors.

EVA/Polyethylene: A polyethylene foam that is firm, but with a softer feel compared to crosslink. It is impervious to most chemicals and available in anti-static formulations. EVA is generally more expensive, but when aesthetics and durability are necessary, they should be considered. It is available in a variety of colors.

Let Cases By Source Help With Your Foam Fabrication 

The correct choice of material for foam fabrication is made by considering the weight and fragility of the product, as well as the positioning and cushioning requirements of the product. When fabricating a foam interior for a consumer product, flocked foam with rich color saturation is available.

Cases By Source will work from your drawings or product to construct a custom foam insert. Our design team will determine the best type of foam to most effectively protect your product. A cutting die is created and inventoried at our plant so that you can repeat your case order in the future exactly as it was provided before.

A Foam Fabrication Example from Cases By Source

A tool company approached Cases By Source looking to design a durable tool tray to organize and protect tools stored in their 50 service vans. Previous trays quickly deteriorated from the constant use of foam not suited to handle this level of use. Our customer wanted a more permanent solution, as their current trays had to be replaced every other year.

Cases By Source was sent a set of the tools/instruments and together we designed a new layout that was optimal for the technicians. We designed a work station tool tray that would provide the proper protection and support the weight of these expensive tools. Each tray was constructed with a polyethylene (PE) and cross-link polyethylene (XLPE) combination. The XLPE was laminated to the PE to give the tray additional durability, while the PE controlled the overall cost of the tool tray.

Cases By Source provided technical drawings for customer approval. Following sign-off, first articles were produced to assure the fit. Slight design modifications were made, and we produced the balance of the tool trays to fully outfit their fleet.


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