13 Jul Melamine Foam: Perfect for Thermal and Acoustic Insulation
Melamine foam is undoubtedly one of the best thermal and acoustic insulation materials. It is fire-resistant and has exceptional sound attenuation and noise reduction properties. When used for thermal insulation it can help regulate conductive and radiant heat transfer for enhanced safety and comfort. Its soundproofing and vibration isolation properties create a quieter environment for everyone. In this article, we will provide further details on why melamine foam is perfect for thermal and acoustic insulation.
What is Melamine Foam?
Melamine foam is a smooth, flexible, low-density microporous material made from melamine resin, a thermosetting polymer composed of melamine and formaldehyde. To create melamine foam, the melamine resin compound is foamed with blowing agents and then cured. The result is a material with a unique three-dimensional structure characterized by a highly interconnected (open-cell) cross-linked system.
Melamine foam’s high degree of cross-linking makes it more resistant to cold and more thermally stable than traditional foams such as polyethylene, polypropylene, and polyurethane, which have lower degrees of cross-linking. Melamine foam can withstand extremely high (up to +240°C) and extremely low (down to -180°C) temperatures for long periods while remaining stable and functional.
Features and Characteristics of Melamine Foam
Melamine foam sheets have become the ultimate choice for various thermal and acoustic insulation solutions thanks to their incomparable features and characteristics. Not to denigrate other insulation materials, but melamine has far superior qualities. Some of the features and characteristics that define this open-cell insulation material includes:
- Flame resistant
- Waterproof – hydrophobic foam only
- Low flame propagation, smoke generation and toxicity
- Easy to customize
- Semi-rigid, yet flexible
The use of lightweight insulation materials offers many advantages for a variety of applications. They reduce production costs and time, and offer greater flexibility. Melamine foam, which weighs less than 0.75 pounds per cubic foot (lb/ft3), is often the insulation material of choice when the weight of the material can have a significant impact on the application. Just think of aerospace and military applications where weight is of paramount importance.
Thanks to its open-cell structure, melamine foam is lighter than traditional thermal and acoustic insulation materials, and can easily match the performance of thicker insulation materials. There are even melamine foams that are lighter than regular melamine foam. One example is POLYDAMP® ULTRA-LITE (PMFUL) foam, which is 40% lighter than regular melamine foam.
2. Flame Resistant
Any insulation material must be flame retardant for safety reasons. After all, that’s the primary purpose of insulation materials. Flame-resistant materials inhibit the spread of fire and protect buildings and other applications from fire damage. The nitrogen compound in melamine foam is nonflammable and smoke-suppressing, per the UL 94 Safety of Flammability standard. It can resist high temperatures without melting or forming burning drops, making it suitable for high-level fire safety environments.
Unfortunately, standard melamine foam is not waterproof. It is therefore preferable to turn to hydrophobic melamine foams for applications where the risk of exposure to water and humidity is high. A melamine foam such as Polydamp Hydrophonic Melamine (PHM) is coated with a water-repellent resin that is cured by ultraviolet light, making it impermeable to water. Other forms undergo plasma gasification to increase their water resistance. Hydrophobic melamine foam is particularly recommended for acoustic and thermal insulation in applications where extreme resistance to humidity and low flame propagation, among others, are required. This is the case, for example, for aircraft fuselage and walls, ECS ducts and new energy vehicles (NEV).
4. Low Flame Propagation
Depending on pressure and intake temperature, a fire or flame can propagate (spread) through conduction, convection, or radiation. Whatever the method, spreading flames can be devastating, causing irrevocable damage and posing numerous safety hazards. The appropriate insulation can help inhibit the spread of fire and enhance safety. Melamine foam is distinguished for its low flame propagation properties in high-temperature environments and applications. It instead chars when exposed to high heat, reducing oxygen supply and slowing the spread of flames for enhanced safety.
5. Easy to Customize
The ideal insulation should be easy to customize to fit various insulation applications. Melamine foam is one of the most customizable insulation materials. It has an open-cell structure for enhanced versatility, making it easy to cut to size. It is available in different shapes, colors, and sizes to fit your specifications. Moreover, you can decide the ideal melamine foam density for your thermal or acoustic applications. Whether you want to use it for thermal management or as an acoustic foam, the material is highly customizable to meet your insulation needs.
6. Semi-Rigid, Yet Flexible
Strangely enough, melamine foam has a certain flexibility despite its semi-rigid nature. This is because its molecular structure and composition provide some resilience and allow it to deform under pressure or bending without permanently losing its shape. This flexibility enables melamine foam to conform to irregular surfaces and meet a variety of thermal and acoustic insulation requirements while retaining its integrity and efficiency. Some melamine foams are even more flexible and durable, notably POLYDAMP® Ultra-Flex melamine foam (PMF-UF), which can even be used for aircraft upholstery.
Applications of Melamine Foam
Melamine foam is primarily suitable for acoustic and thermal insulation applications. It has exceptional soundproofing, fire resistance, and flame retardancy properties. Besides, it is lightweight, versatile, and durable.
Let’s focus here on two of its main innovative applications
Temperature fluctuations are a safety hazard and can cause irrevocable damage due to extreme heat. Thanks to its high nitrogen content, melamine foam insulation can help regulate heat transfer by conduction and radiation for enhanced safety. Its low thermal conductivity slows flame spread and heat transfer without the need for additional retardants.
Many industries such as aerospace, mass transit and telecommunications use it to enhance safety in their applications where high heat resistance and low flame and smoke spread are required. For example, melamine foam can be used to insulate: truck cabins and engines, ducts in HVAC systems, aircraft walls and fuselages, and much more.
Melamine foam stands out for its sound-absorbing properties. It has a microscopic cellular structure that absorbs sound waves, isolating vibrations and preventing noise from reverberating on floors, walls and ceilings. This property makes melamine foam an ideal insulator for industrial, transportation, aerospace, construction and other applications.
For example, melamine foam can be used to attenuate the sound generated by fans and ducts in HVAC systems. It can also be used to insulate engine compartments, doors, walls and driver and passenger cabins in trains.
Melamine foam is undoubtedly the ultimate insulation solution for thermal and acoustic applications. It is lightweight, flame resistant, waterproof, and has exceptional soundproofing characteristics. It can withstand high temperatures and control noise and vibrations for a more comfortable and quieter environment. Its application cuts across various industries, making it suitable for insulation requirements.
Where can you buy melamine foam sheets? The ID Group is pleased to assist customers across Canada and beyond in their search for melamine foam sheets. We offer standard and hydrophobic melamine foam sheets that can be custom cut to meet your thermal insulation and sound absorption needs. Contact us for more information about our product selection.