Don’t Mistake Styrofoam® for Geofoam

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Don’t Mistake Styrofoam® for Geofoam

Don’t mistake Styrofoam® for Geofoam. Styrofoam® is a product created by Dow Chemical Company decades ago. Geofoam is Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) and is not the same thing, although some people mistakenly believe the names are interchangeable. They are two different products. Styrofoam is used to make food and beverage containers, aka foam cups or clam shells, and is made of extruded polystyrene. EPS Geofoam is a dense material of polystyrene pellets heated by steam and expanded, then placed under pressure to form blocks, sheets, and so on. The key difference is Geofoam is “expanded” while Styrofoam is “extruded.”

Styrofoam is often used in the shipping industry, like the foam popcorn that can be found in packaging in addition to the aforementioned food industry supplies. Styrofoam is also used for packing when the shape of the item is form fitted with molded Styrofoam. You’ve probably experienced this when you unpacked an appliance like a microwave, steam iron or other small device. Styrofoam is used for dozens of applications, including insulation. Sheets of Styrofoam can be found in construction stores, home improvement chains and the like. EPS Geofoam sheets are there too, but the blocks, which is its major use, must be ordered from a local manufacturer. Polymolding LLC is the nearest manufacturer to NYC, right here in New Jersey.

Geofoam on the other hand, is typically used in construction as road bed, land fill materials for embankments, weight load control for railroads and even for building rooftop garden underlayment. We’ve covered detailed explanations of the multitude of uses for EPS Geofoam in previous articles. Just check our blog.

Another use we find to be quite fascinating is the craft or art industry examples we showcased back in January.

Once, when calling on a potential client, Geofoam was introduced to the construction chief. When the pitch was completed, the boss picked up his Styrofoam coffee cup, crushed it in his hand, and quite emphatically remarked that he was not interested in using foam to support a construction project. He completely misunderstood the difference between Styrofoam and Geofoam. They’re two different things. It takes a moment to wrap one’s head around the difference, when our only exposure might have been that styro cup.

Last Year’s Big Event

In 2015, New York City residents were treated to one of the largest EPS Geofoam creations; Lady Liberty. This event is held each year in NYC as a music festival, and this year is no exception. It will be held on June 3-5, 2016. This from Governor’s Ball 2015, Music Festival:

Foam-Statue-of-Liberty-pedestal-2_1

A Giant Photo-Op Bust

Hard-coated foam prop for NYC’s Governor’s Ball Music Festival

A truck load of white EPS foam (aka Styrofoam) was turned into this incredible, 20-foot tall- UPDATE FOR 2015! Now with her pedestal, she stands 26 feet tall! – hand carved form bust sculpture of the Statue of Liberty, which was a big hit as a photo-op at the show.

Our Lady Liberty is approximately 1/3rd the size of the original statue on Liberty Island, yet still quite massive. Our sculptors all pitched in to create these huge props for the event.

Weeks of planning and sculpting by the whole team were required to create her. Once the foam was carved, it was hard coated with a polyurethane spray resin, and then carefully painted and weathered for just the right patina. We tested a lot of colors to settle on just the right shade of blue-green. For a look at its production, click here.

The interesting and somewhat confusing thing about sculptures of this nature are often described as resin, when they are really it is covered with resin paint. Iin reality they are carved EPS Geofoam. It’s true that resin based paint is sprayed on the Geofoam, but not made from it. Geofoam is the primary component, and the paint is what makes it look the way it does. The artist chooses from a myriad of colors to match up the look she/he is seeking.

In the case of Lady Liberty, the construction and completion of the sculpture can be viewed here.

As we’ve covered in previous articles, there are a lot of different uses for Geofoam. It you can think of a use we haven’t covered, please comment on what it might be. That way, even we’ll learn something new for our product.

So, the next time you are in the market for something to carve on, use for construction or just want to plant a green garden on top of your skyscraper, make sure you ask for EPS Geofoam.

By |March 22nd, 2016|Blog|Comments Off on Don’t Mistake Styrofoam® for Geofoam

About the Author:

If you have a project that might benefit from added strength and lighter weight Damien Choma is the guy to call. He loves finding new and innovative ways to help our clients achieve success in their projects.