Exploring Next Generation Foam Materials

JUNE 25 – 27, 2024



JUNE 25 – 27, 2024



Next Generation Foam Materials

Growing applications of foam are supporting the development of not only established materials but are also boosting innovations in more novel foams.  

The evolving landscape of application requirements as well as shifting corporate and governmental priorities, such as sustainability, are allowing for exciting headway to be made in the development of next generation foam materials. 

Biobased foams
Biobased materials are made of substances derived from or consisting of biomass (or living matter). When it comes to foams, there are a number of innovative approaches to using a variety of biomass materials already on the market and in the R&D stage, including sugar cane, wheat gluten, and tree bark. As biobased foams can utilize sustainable crops, this also makes them more environmentally friendly.

Biobased foams are particularly useful for thermal insulation applications, as well as acoustic insulation, shock-pad, comfort and leisure.

In addition to the mechanical properties of biobased foam materials, these materials address environmental concerns around the production of chemicals as well as issues around recycling and waste reduction. This makes biobased foams a much more sustainable alternative to traditional materials. 

Whilst biobased foams show promising potential for various applications, with some companies specializing in their development and production, they are not yet being mass produced and are yet to have significant market uptake. However, the biobased foam market is expected to grow significantly over the next five years, and is certainly an area that we will see growing.

Composite foams
Composite materials are a particularly exciting area of material innovation, and there is a large amount of development taking place in composite foam materials. This can be the combination of two (or more) types of foam, or foam and another type of material, namely metal or ceramic. The combination of these materials allows for the properties of the separate materials to be combined, as well as providing other benefits such as weight reduction. 

Composite foams are particularly useful in the aerospace and automotive sectors (where light-weighting is desirable), as well as proving advantages in other areas such as the communications, electronics, and biomedical industries. 

With supply chain issues still ongoing, composite foams provide an additional benefit of addressing this shortage through reducing the reliance on materials which may be scarce to come by. 

Mono-material foam
Mono-materials, as the name suggests, are products formed of a single material. These materials are largely desirable because of their recyclability. 

Given the prominence of foam in areas such as packaging, the development of and subsequent switch to mono-material foam packaging creates both a more functional and efficient solution which supports sustainability.  

The resurgence in material innovation is a clear indicator that the industry is heading in the right direction, and provides ample opportunities for organizations to get ahead in this exciting stage of development.