Polyurethane Reticulated Foam Material Guide: Properties, Types & Applications

Frank Lowe offers both ether- and ester-based polyurethane reticulated foam. Read more about the uses, properties and applications of reticulated foam.

Reticulated polyurethane foam is a widely used and very popular material. It's offered as either polyester reticulated foam or polyether reticulated foam. In either case, it’s a very versatile, open-cell material delivering a host of desirable attributes. 

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Since 1955, Frank Lowe has been partnering with businesses across all markets to produce state-of-the-art industrial manufacturing solutions. We offer dedicated industrial contract manufacturing teams who specialize in providing comprehensive services to a variety of markets.From best-in-class materials, customizable products, and a full suite of industrial manufacturing services, we provide whatever it takes to help your business met its objectives. Regardless of the technical or logistics demands of your project, we will work with you every step of the way providing customizable distribution services and support to ensure the contract die cutting is completed and delivered on time, within budget, and to your exact specifications.

At Frank Lowe, we offer both reticulated polyester foam and reticulated polyether foam. Our experienced team of manufacturing experts will work to understand your unique application and guide you to the best-reticulated foam solution.

Whether you need cosmetic applicators, air and liquid filtration, filters for dust particles, or any other application, Frank Lowe will Get You What You Need When You Need It. Continue reading to learn more about the reticulated polyurethane foams offered at Frank Lowe. 

Characteristics of Reticulated Foam

The key characteristics of reticulated polyurethane foam include light weight, porousness, and low density. The term “reticulated” simply refers to its netlike structure from the manufacturing reticulation process. 

There are two different types of reticulated foam: polyester foam and polyether foam. Let’s take a closer look at the characteristics and specific applications for each type of reticulated foam. 

Reticulated Polyester Open Cell Foam

Reticulated polyester foams boast a 3D skeletal structure that provides remarkable filtration properties and reduces the likelihood of open channels. Polyester foam has an open-cell structure.

This open-cell foam is flexible with a uniform cell structure and is porous. The cell wall structure is evenly spaced and has a high proportion of “windows” or closed cells that work to reflect light.

The large number of “windows” — also called controlled cells — in the reticulated foam makes it suitable for fluid management and sealing applications. The closed-cell foam's structure allows it to instinctively prohibit airflow. 

Polyester foam is easily compressed, which simplifies the process of creating sheets with a certain, desired thickness. Additives can be introduced during the manufacturing process to add application-specific characteristics, such as: 

  • Anti-static
  • Anti-microbial
  • Flame retardant
  • Electrostatic dissipative
  • And more

Reticulated Polyether Foam

In comparison to polyester foams, reticulated polyether foams are more flexible and more affordable. With slightly larger open cells than polyester foam, polyether foam will offer superior performance in wet environments. In fact, reticulated polyether foams were uniquely engineered for hydrostatic stability. 

Polyether reticulated foam is a compressed, open-cell, smooth type of polyurethane foam that allows moisture and air to easily navigate through its cell structure. It offers superior solvency qualities, a high viscosity rate, and is resistant to abrasions as well as cutting. One of the most desirable attributes of polyether reticulated foam is its resistance to degradation from moisture over long periods of time. 

Reticulated Polyester vs Reticulated Polyether 

In short, polyether reticulated foams are more flexible, affordable, and will perform better in wet environments in comparison to polyester foam. However, polyester foams are often more shock absorbent, rigid, have a greater density,  and can be more durable than polyether foams. 

While polyester reticulated foam may be more applicable for sponges, secure packaging for transportation, and cleaning; polyether foams are regularly used for a range of different types of filters like sound filters, air filters, and liquid filters. 

Applications of Reticulated Foams

One of the most important characteristics that distinguish different types of reticulated foam are the pores per inch or PPI — ranging from 4 PPI up to 100 PPI. It’s important to understand lower pores per inch values are designed to promote greater air flow.

As the surface area PPI increases, the pores between the foam or the openings will decrease in size. The PPI of the foam material will play a substantial role in the types of applications the material will be used for. 

At Frank Lowe, we’ve fabricated and designed for a seemingly endless range of lightweight reticulated foam applications. This includes cosmetic applicators, medical devices, windows, automobile sound absorption components, and air conditioning filtration devices. 

Because of its high resistance to chemicals, it’s an ideal material for wipes used in clean rooms and filtration applications in small engines. In either case, some of the common applications of reticulated foam with a closed-cell structure include: 

  • Filter foam applications are probably the most common use for reticulated polyurethane foams. At Frank Lowe, we manufacture reticulated polyurethane foam components for dust bag collectors, automotive air applications, air compressors, small engines, face masks, vacuum cleaners, electric equipment, industrial panels, and other applications. 
  • Sound absorption closed-cell foam filters are regularly used in aircraft, microwave covers, industrial-strength vacuum cleaners, and other high-intensity sound applications. 
  • Miscellaneous filtering and cleaning applications, such as hydraulic line filters, powder puffs, paint brush applicators, different types of cleaning pads, lint-free wipers, floor scrubbing pads, metalized high-tech filters, blackboard erasers, and much more. 

Order Die Cut Polyurethane Reticulated Foam Materials & Filters

At Frank Lowe, we offer a full range of different polyurethane reticulated foams with PPIs spanning from as low as 4 up to 100. The majority of the polyurethane components we manufacture are best suited for the mid-range PPI. 

However, our experienced team will get to understand your application and guide you to the best type (polyether vs polyester) and PPI of reticulated foam. Then we’ll use our state-of-the-art equipment to die cut your components to your exact specifications. 

We can die cut your reticulated foams into virtually any shape, form, or thickness and provide the material on sheets, rolls, or even kiss cut. Simply put, we’ll guide you through the entire materials and die cutting process and help you create efficiencies along the way. 

Contact Frank Lowe for Reticulated Polyurethane Foam Materials

Regardless of your needs or where you are in the manufacturing process, Frank Lowe can help. In addition to a myriad of die cutting and fabrication services, we offer expert design assistance to help make sure you have the right material in the most suitable shape. We even offer quick run prototyping to create test components, so you can confidently move forward in the manufacturing process. 

Contact Frank Lowe today for reticulated polyurethane foam.

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