What is Reticulated Foam?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Reticulated foam is used in a variety of applications and most people have seen it in one form or another. It is light foam with open cells, and each cell has a dodecahedron (12-sided) shape. Uses of it are plentiful. It might cover the grills of speakers, be used as filters in air conditioners, air cleaners, or vacuum cleaners, or make up vital parts of medical or military equipment, just to name a few of the ways it can be employed.

Man with a drill
Man with a drill

Perhaps the most exciting part about reticulated foam is the way in which it is produced. This is an extremely structured and controlled process. Companies that create reticulated foam begin by selecting foam with pores (openings) that are all nearly identical in size. These pieces are placed in a pressured container, into which gases are introduced to create an explosion.

When the explosion is in process, it creates an environment where the majority of the material in each pore or cell has been “blown out.” Very nearly 100% of the foam in each “pore” has been separated from it. This means that each piece of foam now has the classic dodecahedron shape and is much lighter in weight. This can be done on varying thicknesses of foam, and the whole procedure must be orchestrated carefully so that the explosion is contained and operates exactly as it needs to in order to work on the foam but not to destroy it.

While many times reticulated foam is used in various things like medical devices, machines, or vehicles, there are times when people might want this type of foam for other uses. For example it can be used to help make a variety of crafts. However, it can sometimes be difficult to find small sizes of the foam. Best bets are to contact local stores that carry crafts or that specifically sell foam, and to check online.

There’s no doubt that reticulated foam is proving its usefulness in many different ways. For instance, people may want to look all-weather chairs or couches that include this type of foam in their pillows. Because of its open-celled design it tends not to retain water. This means outdoor furniture that gets exposed to the occasional shower will dry quickly and is likely to last longer. Those planning on making their own upholstery for outdoor use may definitely want to consult a nearby foam shop or one online to find reticulated foam for cushions.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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