Foam Expo North America 2019 preview

The third edition of Foam Expo North America will take place from 26 – 28 March 2019 in Novi, MI, USA. According to the organiser, Smarter Shows, the event is North America’s first free-to-attend exhibition and conference for the manufacturers and buyers of technical foam materials, products and services.

(Source: Smarter Shows)

Leading suppliers to present their latest product applications

More than 350 exhibitors and over 6,000 visitors are expected to attend the trade show. The exhibition will serve the entire foam manufacturing industry, including raw materials, chemicals, manufacture and process equipment and all associated services. Foam Expo North America will highlight the latest product applications, services and equipment from multiple sectors, including: adhesives and sealants, converting and fabricating, equipment and machinery, foam manufacturing, raw materials, recycling and testing from the following industry verticals: automotive, aerospace, industrial/technical packaging, construction, medical, sports and leisure.

Foam Expo Conference featuring industry big-leagues

The Foam Expo Conference has released its full agenda – a comprehensive schedule featuring industry experts who analyse and address an extensive range of issues and talking points. The three-day, two-track conference will cover market trends, manufacturing challenges, and opportunities for the full suite of technical foam applications. The agenda comprises trends and developments, expert insights, and leadership panels, where industry leaders gather to discuss topics in-depth. 2019 will see the addition of new conference features to the agenda. Spotlight Sessions are an opportunity to learn from end-users in the automotive, aerospace, packaging, sports and leisure, medical, and construction industries about regulations, material requirements, and testing. Sessions dive into specific areas, such as the growing application of foam in the medical industry and material innovations such as lightweighting and better energy absorption. Meanwhile, Material Jam Sessions seek to enhance delegates’ understanding of developments in specific innovative materials, such as PET foam, metal foam, syntactic foam, and spray foam, among others.

Speakers from renowned companies will take the stage. Included in the line-up are Siemens’ Mathias Radziwill, who will participate in a live poll on improving the foam supply chain and discuss advanced technologies for foam processing. Avery Dennison Performance Tapes’ Scott Krusinski will cover requirements and developments in the transportation industry, while Sonoco’s Jim Lowry will explore what’s driving the sustainable revolution in the packaging industry. Elsewhere, NASA Johnson Space Center’s William Walker will examine the changing landscape in thermal insulation and conductivity requirements. Specialists from Ford, Arkema and BASF are also among scores of other speakers discussing topics of particular current interest. They include achieving cost reduction for materials and equipment while improving foam capabilities, updates on fourth-generation blowing agents, where industry heavyweights consider the path taken from regulation to implementation, and the great VOC trade off – a session on requirements, cost, and performance. Other key sessions on the agenda relate technology development and updates regarding flame retardants and consider how to beat the end-of-life challenge, exploring recycling options for foam materials in an era increasingly concerned with the environmental impact of our products and activities. The conference will also address issues that are prevalent industry-wide, including sustainability, optimisation, and difficulties arising in educating, hiring, and training the next-generation workforce.

Demand for lightweighting driving foam ubiquity in automotive

Polyurethane foam is ubiquitous in the automotive industry. Used in applications from car seats to vehicle spoilers, the material plays a crucial role in the build of modern vehicles. By 2019, the global automotive foams market is projected to be worth USD 40.83 billion. Increased demand for lightweight vehicles coupled with growing demand in developing countries is driving this expansion and creating significant opportunities for industry players. Foam performance requirements in vehicles will be a key topic at this year’s Foam Expo Conference. Relevant to the automotive industry are sessions on examining foam performance for noise vibration harshness mitigation in on- and off-road and electric vehicles and a keynote address that will examine the potential for foams in lightweighting efforts. The expo will also cover foam testing, structural foams, and how industry players are working to make the material as safe and durable as possible.

Foam takes off in the aerospace industry

Flexible polyurethane products and rigid foam core materials are used throughout aircraft in a range of applications. Flame-retardant and customisable, the foam materials are used in flight-deck pads and passenger cabin applications such as seating, overhead luggage bins, galleys, and lavatories, among other uses. In 2016, market research company Technavio released a study forecasting growth in the global aerospace foam market at a CAGR of close to 8 % through to 2020. Rising demand for low-cost carrier airlines in emerging regions and the high projected growth of the military aircraft manufacturing industry is behind ongoing growth in aircraft production, which is in turn boosting the global aerospace foam market. North America holds the largest market for aerospace foam in the world and the region is expected to continue to dominate in this area despite intensifying competition elsewhere. Foam Expo Conference will hold discussions geared toward end-user markets including aerospace. Exploring the sound, thermal, and shock-absorption properties of foam comprises a key segment of the conference, during which industry players will review the insulative and conductive properties of foam for aerospace applications. Other sessions will consider how to simultaneously optimise quality and cost, how best to lightweight applications, and ways in which weight and comfort requirements in aircraft can be balanced.

Foam for packaging

Packaging foams are cross-linked structures designed to protect products of any weight during transit. Recent years have witnessed an increase in the use of foam materials in the packaging industry. Emerging economies such as China, India, and Russia are experiencing significant growth in polyurethane, EPS and polyethylene foams for packaging applications. Broadly, the engineered foam market is set to receive a boost from technological advancements through to 2024. The Asia-Pacific region is expected to dominate the market for engineered foam during this period as a result of major growth of the automotive industries in emerging economies including China and India. Major players operating in the engineered foam market include BASF, Dow Chemical, Sealed Air Corporation and Armacell. Many of the industry’s leading names will be in attendance at this year’s Foam Expo Conference, where speakers will address innovations, concerns, and opportunities in the foam packaging market. The conference will present the latest foam research for commercialisation and offer material evaluation relevant to foam packaging companies.

Foam in the construction industry

In the building and construction industry, foam is used for its lightweight, durable properties in sealing and thermal insulation applications. Its flexibility and non-fibrous properties make it an ideal thermal and acoustic insulator. Long used in commercial building applications, today foam is increasingly being utilised in domestic housing. By 2022, the rigid foam market is forecast to be worth USD 99.78 billion, driven by heightened building and construction activity around the world. The various applications of foam products in the construction industry will be covered at the Foam Expo Conference. Sessions include a review of the insulative properties of foams for thermal management applications and an evaluation of foam materials for insulation.

Foams in medical environments

Medical-grade foams are formulated for a range of applications in the medical industry, meeting various challenges present in medical environments. Such challenges include the cleaning of rooms to reduce the risk of disease and germ spread. Medical-grade foams offer unrivalled antibacterial properties, making them ideal for use in environments that must be sterile. Globally, the medical foam market is forecast to be worth USD 30.89 billion by 2026. Foam Expo Conference will explore the spread of foam materials in the global medical sector. Featuring a two-track agenda, the conference covers four core areas: manufacturing, applications, industry trends, and materials.

Foam materials in sports applications

Foam products have broad application in the sports and leisure industry. Flexible foams have a range of advantageous properties which make them suitable for numerous applications. Benefits include low density, low weight, and low heat transfer, and many polymer foams are soft and flexible, offering comfort as well as functionality. Consumers are increasingly demanding performance wear specific to any given activity. Recent years have seen innovations in sports materials, and rising demand for sports apparel is in part responsible for growth in the polymer foams market. Foam is especially popular in footwear, offering significant improvements in comfort in running shoes. Foam materials can also be found in sports products such as gym and yoga mats, athletic supports, helmet liners, handlebar pads, and hand weights. The trends and opportunities for foam applications in the sports sector will be covered at the conference, which addresses all major areas in which foam materials are used.

Product showcase

Foam Expo North America will highlight the latest innovations, solutions and developments in foam materials and manufacturing technologies. Over two days, ten live demonstrations are taking place around the hall showcasing a mix of foam products, latest adhesive technologies, speciality cutting techniques, and more.

Day 1: Tuesday, 26 March 2019

  • Alexander Frenzl, Business Field Manager – Glass, Ceramics, and Building Materials, Netzsch (stand 713): “Thermal conductivity testing of foams via ASTM C518 using new Netzsch HFM 446 Heat Flow Meter”, The operation of the new Netzsch HFM 446 Heat Flow Meter for thermal conductivity measurements of foams will be demonstrated. A measurement will be run and the features of the easy to use SmartMode software will be shown on a Touchscreen computer. The instrument conforms to ASTM C518 and other similar standards.
  • Jeffrey D. Goad, Vice President Polyurethanes, Kevin Ross, HyPUR-cel Product Manager, and Ryan Cooper, Laboratory and Technical Service Manager, Rubberlite (stand 318): “HyPUR-cel polyurethane foams”, The products are medium- to high-density polyurethane foams used in applications where processability, performance, durability and product stewardship are critical to the end user. They are said to set the industry standard for range of availability in terms of density, firmness and thickness.
  • Matt Palinkas, Automotive Product Manager, North America and Scott Krusinski, Senior Design and Application Engineer, North America, Avery Dennison (stand 324): “FT 1943 PP Pressure-Sensitive Tape Construction”, Avery Dennison FT 1943 PP is a 4-mil transfer tape featuring a low-surface-energy (LSE) modified acrylic adhesive that offers high adhesion to textured and LSE substrates, along with very good environmental resistance. Common applications include heat shielding, painted metal, acoustical absorption, and UHMW.
  • Dave Hagen, Director of sales North America, Magnum Tapes & Films (stand 1614): “600 Series Low Surface Energy Permanent Acrylic Adhesive”, The product features very good wet-out and bond to a variety of difficult materials and surfaces such as neoprene, polyethylene and polyurethane foams as well as other LSE materials. It is available in double coated, transfer, and differential tape configurations for various performance needs.
  • Daniel R. Goellner, President, Manufacturers Supplies Company (stand 1400): “Atom Flashcut Twins EMHD 3015 S CNC Digital Cutting & Routing System”, The Twins EMHD models combine cutting and routing operations and are said to be an ideal solution to process a variety of materials with a maximum thickness of 130 mm. The double z-axis head, with independent control, allows the working of 3D shapes from foams of any density, plus rubber, plastics and composites, with high accuracy.

Day 2: Wednesday, 27 March 2019

  • Brett Hungerford, Sales + Service, Edge-Sweets Company (stand 1000): “HPX 50-88: Second-generation horizontal CNC blade contour saw”, The HPX utilises a band knife or tooth blade for fast, accurate profile cutting of flexible polyurethane foams, making it a good choice for cutting flexible PU, viscoelastic memory and latex foam, and semi-rigid high-ILD PU foam. It is used for a wide range of applications in the bedding and furniture, packaging, medical, insulation and automotive industries.
  • Linda Brown, Business Development Manager, Perry Dreyer, Business Development Manager, and Chip Morrow, VP Sales and Marketing, Recticel (stand 924): “Elasticel, Pottscorer 715, Hydroseal, Situsense TT35 and Soundfoam ML HY”, New products with unique features will be introduced, including a stretchable foam with high elasticity, a scrub foam that changes mechanical properties depending on water temperature, a liquid sealing foam, a foam for in-situ applications, and a hydrophobic/oleophobic melamine foam for moist and high-temperature applications.
  • Matthew J. Berg, VP of Sales, Runi Recycling Machinery Inc. (stand 834): “Runi SK200 screw compactor for densifying expanded polystyrene waste (EPS)”, The Runi SK200 screw compactor is the second smallest machine for compacting EPS, recommended for annual volumes of 10 – 30 t. It compacts EPS at a ratio of up to 50:1. The density of the compacted EPS blocks is around 350 kg/m3. The compacted blocks are stacked on pallets and sold for recycling.
  • Steven Schroff, Market Development Manager, MacTac (stand 1620): “CleanTape – Low VOC clean acrylic adhesives”, MacTac’s 100 % solid, pure acrylic adhesive technology is said to be one of the cleanest PSA’s on the market today. The product line is said to offer versatility and very good foam bonding performance.
  • Sam Wilding, Co-Founder, XOnano Smartfoam (stand 520): “XOnano Smartfoam Impact-Sensing Foam Materials”, XOnano Smartfoam generates electricity when impacted. The additive-based technology can be incorporated into just about any foam. Smartfoam was built into a Taekwondo chest protector. The function of the foam in the chest protector will be demonstrated.