Foamex board is a relatively new material, having emerged as recently as 30 years ago.
It was patented by a Swiss company called 3A Composites and the brand name has stuck, though you may have seen it referred to in some quarters as foamlite, forex or palite.
When discussing any of the above we are essentially talking about a sheet of compressed PVC foam.
A stock material, Foamex consists of small cells sandwiched between two smooth outer faces. Together these elements combine to create a strong board, at odds with a name hinting at something far less study. Be in no doubt, Foamex is not ‘foamy’.
The material is available in a wide range of thicknesses up to 19mm and as many as nine colours. It can be painted, engraved, cut to shape, layered and most importantly – lends itself to direct printing.
Foamex’s popularity has steadily grown over the course of the last three decades, due in large part to its quite brilliant print qualities. Indeed, this has proven to be one plastic that is easy to print onto.
A molecular structure makes for a flat and even surface, ideal for digital printing in particular. The latter creates a natural matt effect, though a UV varnish can be applied for added protection. A bright white finish can also be attained.
Foamex takes ink brilliantly and can be printed onto both sides in next to no time. Using routing or thermoforming, its easy to shape thereafter, making it one of the most versatile materials on the market. Having been cut or routed it can be bonded together to realise imaginative shapes.
We’ll touch on common applications in due course, but anything made from Foamex is refreshingly easy to install. This is down to the lightness of the product, a weight belying its durability. That same cellular structure makes for an unlikely strength to weight ratio, one embraced by designers the world over.
This is just one reason why so many deploy Foamex products outside. Another is its remarkable weatherproofing qualities. Helpfully, Foamex is 100% waterproof and won’t absorb liquid. Not only that but it’s proven to be UV repellent, meaning it won’t succumb to scorching sunlight. It can also withstand harsh and changing temperatures.
Foamex is said to last seven years when placed outside and up to a decade inside.
Whether your intended product is slated for internal or external use, its reassuring to know Foamex can be mounted with great ease. Certainly, it can be attached to almost any surface when paired with the likes of double-sided tape or Velcro. This removes much of the frustration born from transportation and installation alike.
One erected, you’ll find your Foamex product easy to clean. Maintenance is too often an after thought but few products stand up as well to soft washing and chemicals. This is one of the clear advantages of a substrate unaffected by moisture.
Another huge advantage of Foamex is its recyclability, something that carries greater significance in an age where printers and designers seek out more sustainable products. Foamex is without question one of the easiest plastics to recycle and is 100% reusable. It can be ground down, melted, recast and reimagined in the form of PVC windows, flooring and even food packaging. This only adds to its very modern appeal.
What Can Be Created Using Foamex?
The sheer versatility of Foamex is best demonstrated when considering its vast and varied applications.
The material is synonymous with flat projects, namely displays and signage.
Short term marketing campaigns often call upon Foamex to realise advertising boards and banners. It has also become the go-to for retailers desiring affordable POS – be that window displays or hanging signs.
Elsewhere Foamex has become an obvious choice for those looking to create directional signage, so too home decoration.
You may also have seen it deployed for menu boards, panelling and wall cladding, among others. See below for a more comprehensive list of Foamex applications:
- Display Panels
- Rigid posters
- Interior and Exterior Signs
- Store Display
- For Sale Signs
- Information Boards
- Menu Boards
- Event Signage
- Wall Graphics
So there you have it, a brief introduction to Foamex – the light-weight, reliable, versatile, easy to install, affordable and print friendly plastic. It’s little wonder it’s so popular.