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Polyurethane vs. Polyethylene

Polyurethane

Softer Foam
    -Polyurethane is softer than polyethylene and is usually the standard choice for normal custom foam inserts and the standard choice for
pick & pluck foam. Its density is 1.6 lb/ft3.

Absorption of Water
    -Unlike polyethylene, this foam will absorb water rather close to the capacity a sponge might, so it may not be as easy to clean as a smooth polyethylene surface.

Vibration Dampening / Shock absorption
    -Polyurethane provides excellent shock absorption and vibration dampening for items embedded within it, and is ideal for packaging and cushioning most objects. It is the industry standard.

Mildew, Mold, Rot, Bacteria
    -Because polyurethane can absorb water, its resistance to mildew, fungus, mold, rot, and bacteria is less than that of polyethylene, although if kept dry, no such growths will ever occur. Silica gel is recommended for moist environments.

Thermal Insulator
    -Polyurethane is an excellent thermal insulator, as is polyethylene. Objects stored in the foam will be well insulated from outside temperatures, especially in case.

Chemical Resistance
    -Polyurethane has basic chemical resistance to standard organic solvents.

Polyethylene (PE)

Harder Foam
    -Polyethylene tends to be harder and stronger than polyurethane, making it more suitable to cushion much heavier and/or sharper objects. Its density is 2.2 lb/ft3.

Absorption of Water
    -Polyethylene, being the closed cell foam that it is, makes for a foam with a very low water absorption. This means that unlike polyurethane, it can be wiped clean with a wet rag or towel with minimal absorption at 0.07 lbs/in.

Vibration Dampening / Shock absorption
    -Polyethylene provides excellent shock absorption and vibration dampening for items embedded within it, and is ideal for packaging and cushioning heavier objects.

Mildew, Mold, Rot, Bacteria
    -Polyethylene has excellent resistance to mildew, mold, fungus, rot, and bacteria. This is due mainly to the fact that water can easily be wiped off of the surface of the foam rather than absorbed within it.

Thermal Insulator
    -Polyethylene is an excellent thermal insulator, as is polyurethane. Objects stored in the foam will be well insulated from outside temperatures, this is especially true when the foam and object are inside a case.

Chemical Resistance
    -Compared to Polyurethane, Polyethylene has better chemical resistance as well as corrosion resistance.

 Convoluted foam made out of polyurethane

Custom insert made out of Polyethylene



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