Plastics Foaming

industrial gases for Plastics Foaming applications 

What is foaming in plastics?

Foaming of thermoplastic polymers in general is a process of melting plastic and then adding a foaming agent to create a cellular structure within the molten plastic. The foamed plastic is formed by an extrusion or molding process. Foaming technology is used to produce plastic parts with a foamed cell structure inside. The cell structure can be created with usually carbon dioxide or sometimes nitrogen.

Overcoming the environmental challenges of conventional foaming

Plastic foaming processes often rely on conventional foaming agents such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) or hydrocarbons. Increasingly strict regulatory controls are restricting or prohibiting the use of compounds such as these due to their high global warming potential (GWP) and ozone depletion potential (ODP). Many manufacturers are thus looking to replace or phase out these agents. Industrial gases can be an environmentally sound way to support phase-out strategies.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is an excellent, well-established alternative to these harmful agents. It is an ideal physical blowing agent for foamed polymers such as building insulation, for example, XPS insulation boards and packaging such as high-density PE foams. CO2 combines low GWP and zero ODP with good plastic compatibility. In addition, the use of CO2 offers considerable cost benefits.