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Custom Styrofoam Parts?

gabethedragon's Avatar

   I have yet another idea to mind, but I ran into trouble. Part of my product contains a custom lenghted, custom shaped styrofoam or plastic part. However, I cannot find a manufacturer that will produce such thing according to my dimensions. 

Can anyone point me out to a company that produces custom Styrofoam parts?

Thanks, mondragon

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keeztan's Avatargold

Are you looking for a manufacturer to produce a number of parts for production or just a prototype? Look to Thomas register for fabricators of EXPANDED POLYSTYRENE (EPS) Foam products. (Technically Styrofoam is a Dow Chemical trademarked brand of expanded polystyrene foam, this is why you will never see products labeled as styrofoam cups but rather Foam Cups)

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vitaminguy's Avatargold

I'm guessing you want to make a prototype or proof of concept?  You can make a mold from clay and buy expanding two-part polyurethane foam to pour into it. I get such materials from www.sculpt.com.

Robert Pontius
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rpontius's Avatarg8_badge

That's an excellent suggestion Rafael.

Also, especially if the styrofoam part is large, a "hot wire" knife can neatly cut various foam materials. 

Rafael Avila
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vitaminguy's Avatargold

Thanks Robert. I've had a lot of fun making prototypes and costumes out of polyurethane, using two part silicone rubber molds (often with fiberglass backing). Below are some costumes I made out of polyurethane, using silicon rubber molds. At the bottom is a pic of the actual Two-part silicon rubber I like to use. Very strong and great long-term stability. I've used molds made from Rebound 25 after 5 years sitting in my attic. No sticking and no distortions. Beautiful stuff.

Mark Bartlett
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gadgetmanken's Avatargold

You can buy foam packaging that has a thin bag that expans around your product to protect it during shipping. If you cannot find who offers this try getting a plastic bag and some glue stick like lipstick applicator and spray foam insulation for cracks from the hardware store. Spray it in the back and it will expand yo areas where it can move just leave a small opening. Let it harden, trim and shave to your dimensions.

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freyinnovations's Avatar

Rigid foam can be machined.

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joycie's Avatargold

To make a plastic part (ABS or PLA) for a prototype, learn TinkerCad online for free and then purchase an inexpensive 3D printer.  Total cost will be less than $290 if you buy a wireless DaVinci "mini".   That's less than what it will cost to have your parts 3D-printed or made by somebody else (and hope your design is right the first time!)  Then you can design and make all the parts you want.  Not to mention, you can make molds of your part with the 3D printer and use any type of resin you want.  Just design your part on TinkerCad and convert it to a "hole".  Then insert the "hole" into the middle of a solid block and cut the block in half if you desire.  3D-print the two half-molds and pour the resin directly into each half-mold... and that's it.  You can even design the part with tabs and matching holes so if it's cast in two parts, then the parts will snap together.  TinkerCad was recommended recently on the EN blog.  Serious inventors must keep up with the times.  Otherwise, you will be paying a lot of money unnecessarily for parts you may not need or be able to use.  Oh, and I'm proud to say that two of my grandchildren have science fair projects that have won both local and district ribbons, and they're now headed for the "regionals".   Both projects involved 3D-printed parts.   The judges knew they did the work themselves (and not their parents!) by asking how the parts were designed and printed.  It was obvious they know what they're doing!

James Chapman
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kimmyk's Avatargold

That's fantastic, Jimmy's Band!  I hope the kids continue in their success.

James Chapman
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chappy75's Avatargold

Depending on what it is The machine that we are about to purchase can cut foam up to 16'X45"wide. and can plunge details 8". Generally used for surf boards and paddle boards. Like I said, depends on what it is. I don't have my machine(s) yet but there is one  in Rockledge FL and the operator does a lot of 1-offs.

I still have to learn it but we have classes set up after we finish the redesign.. 

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freyinnovations's Avatar

We don't know what your foam parts need to look like, but my CNC router will cut 96"x 48"x 6". 

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joycie's Avatargold

The neatest thing I ever saw in a machine shop was when we were making parts for an autonomous rover for the NASA Space Grant project.  We needed to mill foam (the upholstery type!) to precise dimensions and we had already tried using an electric knife without success.  So a student came up with the idea of freezing the foam with liquid nitrogen and then milling it in a 5-axis CNC milling-machine (Haas Vertical Milling Center).  It actually worked!   The student initially started writing/coding in G-code, but it quickly got overwhelming.  So another student designed the part in MasterCAM, downloaded the converted program to the machine, and away they went!   The Space Grant rover competition is held yearly at the Great Sand Dunes National Park, but we unfortunately didn't win that year.  There are some really brilliant students that take such competitions very seriously.  However, we have won two competitions recently and there are 23 Colorado colleges and universities participating.   It is loads of fun seeing young and tenacious inventors doing their thing! 

Kim L
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