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The Complete Guide to Foam Fabric: What you need to know about Foam Fabric

2021-09-15

As a business owner, choosing the right textiles for your product manufacturing processes is one of the most significant challenges you’ll ever encounter. The decisions made will influence the quality of the goods produced, production costs, and the response of existing and prospective clients. In short, you cannot get it wrong, And foam fabric is a solution that should be on everyone’s radar.

By now, you’ve probably heard a little about foam fabric, which has seen its popularity grow at a rapid pace in recent times. This simple guide will answer all of your burning questions about the material, including but not limited to;

  • What is foam fabric?
  • What are the key attributes of foam fabric?
  • Why choose foam fabric?
  • What can foam fabric be used for?
  • What is the best foam fabric material?

Here’s all you need to know about foam fabric for textiles and more.

 

The carbon footprint dilemma

 

Before analyzing any material, it’s important to highlight the reasons for giving your decision the attention it requires. Society has caused monumental damage to the planet, particularly in the last 100 years, and the textile industries have been among the worst culprits. Some of the most alarming statistics include;

  • The fashion industry uses 93 billion cubic meters of water each year.
  • Half a million tonnes of microfibers are released into the ocean from washing synthetics annually. 
  • A shocking 84% of clothes end up in landfills.
  • Some of the worst non-biodegradable fabrics used for clothes and furniture take up to 200 years to break down.
  • The global atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide is 414.01 ppm.

In short, the level of damage caused to the planet means that all industries must take immediate action to adopt greener practices and the textiles sector is very much at the heart of this. Fabric choices should play an integral role.

Aside from the need to protect the planet, manufacturers and retailers alike should acknowledge the fact that more than 80% of consumers actively believe that companies should design environmentally conscious products. Consequently, selecting the right fabrics can become a key part of the brand story, leading to greater conversions and sales prices.

Choosing natural materials like wood for furniture or wool for clothing can work wonders. In recent times, though, foam fabric has established itself as one of the most significant materials available for businesses in the textiles sector.

Meanwhile, closed cell polyurethane uses its liquid compound and air elements to form durable midsoles, sole units, treads, and high heel outsoles. High-density PU is used for the latter while softer PU can be used for more cushioning parts of the shoe’s sole, such as sneaker midsoles.

The soft yet durable (and highly moldable during manufacturing) properties also make it great for creating bags. In both cases, the compression sets and durability are further supported by recyclable abilities to ensure that the materials cause far less environmental damage while still producing a soft footbed for the user.

 

What is foam fabric?

 

Foam fabric is a textile that can be made from Polyethene, Polyurethane, Ethylene Vinyl Acetate or Styrene Butadiene Rubber . It undergoes heat and pressure treatments so that the Polyurethane can bond the foam to the fabric. It can subsequently be used as a technical lining for footwear components, providing a comfortable solution for padding while it can similarly be used with waterproof items and knitted products.In the case of ARIAPRENE foam fabric, the material is TPE (thermoplastic elastomer) based.

The textile also has a range of additional winning properties that make it a great choice for furniture upholstery, floor insulation, quilting, and more. It is often used to support other materials due to their elasticity. Some of those key attributes include, but are not limited to;

  • It’s non-toxic, causing far less environmental damage than chemically-treated fabrics,
  • As well as providing shape to products, the robust material will retain its shape,
  • Hypoallergenic attributes mean that they can be universally used.
  • It offers comfort, insulation, and resilience as well as versatile functions.

Foam is a permeating, lightweight material that is produced by pushing gas bubbles into a polymer material, making it a type of expanded plastic and rubber. Foam fabric can also, when used alongside corrugated packaging, be used to protect products during transportation.

 

Open cell versus closed cell 

 

Foam fabric is available in many forms, including Thermoplastic Elastomer, EVA (Ethylene-vinyl acetate) foam, PE (polyethylene) foam, PU (polyurethane) foam, and foam rubber materials. They are commonly split into two categories: open cell or closed cell materials.

Open cell materials are commonly softer, breathable, and more flexible due to the fact that the cells are purposely left open. Conversely, closed cell foam has been pressed to stop moisture or air from penetrating the material. Closed cell foam fabrics are also denser and have a higher resistance to heat flow (R Value). 

There is no distinct answer to which is better, as they can be used for different purposes. In many textiles-based circumstances, though, a closed cell fabric works better.

 

The benefits of foam fabric

 

Knowing that foam fabric can be used for a versatile range of applications is one thing, but knowing why to adopt it is another. Every change to your business should be a calculated decision, and the move to this type of material offers many rewarding features for companies working in the textiles industry. 

The biggest incentives for losing alternative synthetics in favor of foam fabric are;

  • Foam fabric is better for the environment as  fewer carbon emissions are made during its production while it is also more recyclable than many other synthetic materials currently used in fashion and furniture production.
  • The foam fabric is available in various colors and can be cut to various shapes and sizes. Even when using it for hidden cushioning and insulation, this level of design flexibility can have an immensely positive impact.
  • Its recyclable nature reduces the waste of time and money, aiding your company’s production and supply chains with immediate and lasting results.
  • Its waterproof and moisture resistance makes it perfect for protecting more expensive products or less eco-friendly materials that would need to be trashed should damage occur to them.
  • Foam fabric makes better use of waste materials than plastics and rubbers while it can also be produced quickly, even in large quantities. 

So, foam fabric helps reduce the carbon footprint without causing any negative impact to the environment. The global eco fiber industry was worth over $40bn before the pandemic and continues to grow in the modern era. Bamboo, hemp, and lyocell are all great materials to incorporate into your operations. However, foam fabric should be close to the top of your agenda.

Furthermore, simply knowing that you’ve improved your operations by adopting a better fabric will put your mind at ease while simultaneously giving employees a reason to feel proud of the company. It can additionally encourage you to implement further upgrades. 

 

An introduction to ARIAPRENE® foam fabric

 

While most foam fabrics offer economical and environmental benefits compared to many textiles currently on the market, not all foams are the same. ARIAPRENE, is a GRS (Global Recycle Standard) certified fabric that is designed with sustainability at its core, which is underlined by its solvent-free lamination, toxic-free foam-core, and hypo-allergenic properties.

ARIAPRENE® foam materials are made in a variety of colors and hardness levels. With the new product lines TERRA used either 20% or  100% manufactured from recycled foam. ARIAPRENE® can be used for the same applications as other foam materials, including footwear, backpacks, sports accessories, and apparel. 

Synthetic foams like ARIAPRENE® can be used in medical and automotive goods, but the textiles sector remains the most common solution.

 

ARIAPRENE: a TPE material

 

ARIAPRENE® is a type of thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) and is a closed cell fabric that’s both moldable and customizable. It is often characterized by a hardness level of between 8 and 30C, as well as a thickness of between 1 and 15mm. Unlike many materials, the mill production waste is  recyclable, giving it a huge advantage over other foams.

It has lower heat shrinkage than normal TPE foam and other key attributes also give ARIAPRENE® greater efficiency throughout the production and supply lines. Fewer emissions and energy are used while waste materials are minimized and recyclable. In addition to being good for the environment in relation to carbon emission, it avoids the need for animal materials. 

Crucially, its high stretch and shock-absorption options provide manufacturers the flexibility to create premium quality products that are perfectly matched to the consumer’s requirements. The durability also brings better value for money, leading to happy customers and, therefore, happy retailers. 

 

An eco-friendly company

 

ARIAPRENE® isn’t only dedicated to creating a greener foam fabric for use in a variety of applications. It lives and operates by its mantra of promoting sustainability too. One solution it uses is to recycle its production waste to produce ingredients for secondary products and slow the demand for virgin materials to be used unnecessarily.

The latest collection ARIAPRENE® TERRA realizes the closed-loop approach to recycling additionally creates an added level of transparency throughout the supply chain due to in-house recycling and the increased efficiency of surplus materials from the primary production line.

For companies who care about actively helping the environment, and not only for vanity or brand image elements, partnering with eco-friendly material suppliers is essential

 

Conclusion

 

Whether your company manufactures fabrics for footwear, backpacks, protections, or any other purpose, the right choice of materials will improve the quality of products, the ethical nature of the brand, and consumer appeal. Ultimately, those outcomes will lead to a better bottom line.

Foam fabric is an essential addition to any modern textiles company and ARIAPRENE® is undoubtedly one of the best versions available. Get in touch to learn more about the material today.

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2019-07-19

With the future of our planet in the hands of the humans who inhabit it, we all must do our part to make a change. AP Terra is a new line of materials made from recycled Ariaprene products. Terra is made in-house from up to 100% recycled Ariaprene material, ensuring our unused product is being repurposed correctly. By repurposing what would normally be considered waste, Terra reduces negative environmental impact and helps reduce our carbon footprint.