What is Integral Skin Foam?
Integral skin foam, also commonly referred to as “self-skinning” foam, is a dual-layer structure formed through a material’s foaming process. This composition, similar to a loaf of bread, features a foam inner core surrounded by a solid outer crust or “skin”. While several materials can be used to produce an integral skin foam, thermoset polyurethanes can offer customizable properties to meet exact design requirements, including density, hardnesses, tensile strength, chemical resistance, and many more. Due to its adaptability, polyurethane integral skin foams can be manufactured through a cast or Reaction Injection Moldingprocess.
Benefits of Integral Skin Foam
- Integral skin foams can display a uniform surface that portrays either a smooth or textured finish. Because of this, product designers can eliminate painting or other secondary operations to achieve a nice aesthetic.
- Integral skin foams can provide a different set of physical properties than the foam layer underneath. For example, the Coefficient of Friction (COF) of foam with an integral skin will be higher due to its smooth, shiny surface, while the exposed foam may portray a lower COF.
- Integral skin foams can prevent any air, dust particles, or liquids from flowing through, creating a non-breathable material. Although closed-cell foams can be achieved without a skin, there is still some level of porosity left behind. To ensure the porosity of the cellular structure is completely closed, an integral skin may be recommended.
How to use Integral Skin Foam in Your Design?
Integral skin foams can virtually be found anywhere that benefits from its physical properties. This is often determined by the product’s overall function or purpose for optimal performance. For instance, products such as structural foam enclosures for robotics or elastomeric foam cushioning for fitness equipment may benefit from an integral skin due to its customizable aesthetics and superior properties.
Wide range of applications
At present, soft self-skinning PU foam products are used in automobile steering wheels, armrests, headrests, bicycle seats, motorcycle seats, easy chair armrests and headrests, door handles, spoilers and bumpers.
Most of the Polyurethane self-skinning PU products are used in the shoe industry to make various leather shoes, overshoes, mining shoes, riding boots, etc.
Rigid self-skinned PU products, also known as “structural foam”, are used in the furniture industry to make solid and beautiful frames such as doors, window frames, tables, chairs, computers, typewriters and pianos, or for sports equipment to make snowboards and surfboards Wait. Its application prospect is very optimistic.