Custom cut foam terminology: Here are the need-to-knows

Unless you’re a custom cut foam connoisseur or a longtime patron of DIY foam, you have probably come across more than a few terms that you might have had trouble with. Water jet cutting machines, for example. While they might sound a little bit like antiquated interrogation devices, they’ve actually been a vital part of our service for years.

If you don’t know your CAD from your die cut foam, use our handy terminology guide to get to grips with it all.

Antimicrobial Foam

This refers to foam that reduces fungus growth and is usually used for outdoor foams, as well as medical environments where antimicrobial properties are needed as a health and safety precaution.

Anti-Static Foam

This is a foam material that does not generate an electrical charge. It is usually used within electronic devices for motherboards, circuit boards, and computer chips and should therefore not be conducive to electricity.

Computer Aided Design (CAD)

CAD is just a foam insert design that is achieved using computer software to get a precise end product. A vast number of industries use CAD to help produce foam materials (it’s often used in dentistry to create storage solutions for oral prosthetics).

Closed Cell Foam

This refers to foam with individual pockets, complete with a water-resistant cushion. Closed cell foam is completely enclosed within itself, and it is designed as such so that air cannot get within the structure. This has made closed cell foam a very popular product for insulation and construction.

Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Machine

This refers to a machine which creates custom foam products, and they can also be used for wood, steel, aluminium and more. Between CNC routers, plasma cutters and laser cutters, there are various different types of CNC machines.


This is one of the most vital aspects to consider when you’re choosing foam. It’s essentially a measurement of how little air is in the foam. The higher the density, the better grade of foam, generally. Of course, how high a density you choose should depend on your own needs – certain projects will require less density while others will need more. Using our DIY custom foam calculator, you can enter your own density specifications to produce your very own unique foam inserts.

Die Cutting Foam

With die cut foam, a machine that produces 60 tonnes of pressure effectively stamps out shapes in a downward motion. Think of it as a huge pastry cutter! Die cutting foam machines have had a huge influence on foam products across numerous industries, and this technique is now commonly used to produce soundproofing foam, equipment for packaging/ and transportation, sleep products, and more.

Foam Conversion

A relatively easy one. Foam conversion refers to the process of taking a raw sheet of foam and transforming it into the final product.

Indentation Force Deflection (IFD)

IFD is a testing procedure which determines the firmness of foam and how much pressure it can withstand. During the test, a weighted circular plate is pressed into the foam at numerous positions and then the force is read on a scale. The goal is to determine how many pounds it takes to compress the plate 25% into the foam.


Not the laminating you may be familiar with. Here, laminating is used to describe the process of using heat to bond sheets of foam on top of others to achieve a single sheet of foam designed according to any number of specifications.

Laser Engraving Foam

Here, a highly precise laser simply engraves a design from a single piece of foam. It’s a really accurate way to produce the desired results, and is often used for DIY foam where the inserts may be small.

Materials Handling

This is a simple term used to describe the use of foam to protect and transport goods within the manufacturing process.

Open Cell Foam

Almost the opposite of closed cell foam, open cell foam is a type of foam that enables the easier flow of air between cells within the foam.

Pack Density

Pack density is just the economical way in which manufacturers can maximise the number of items they can place within a packaging design.

Reticulated Foam

Reticulated foam is similar to open cell foam in that it has had the cell walls excavated to present an open internal structure. This then allows water and air to pass through, allowing for breathability and the drainage of water.


This is simply a cutting technique that uses a fast rotating tool that swiftly cuts along the X and Y axis so that the foam is cut precisely (while saving time for the operator).


Tooling is the process of selecting and applying a tool that is best for the foam cutting design.

Get to grips with our DIY foam service

A recent addition to our services is our custom tool inserts, in conjunction with Easy Peel. With this new DIY custom foam service, you can take control of your toolbox inserts and receive completely unique inserts that have been cut according to your specifications. Like we said earlier, simply tell us what sizes you need on our calculator page and we’ll give you an instant quote. Once the order is completed we’ll send them straight to you. From here, our handy foam tutorials should see you right.

In the meantime, take a look at our blog. It’s regularly updated with all the news and developments from within the custom foam world. Should you need any help or guidance, just get in touch here.

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