EPS is one of the lightest of all construction materials allowing ease of handling and faster construction times. Its outstanding thermal insulation properties and durability ensure performance once used in any building or construction.
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EPS, or Expandable Polystyrene: a thermoplastic product that is lightweight, strong, and offers excellent thermal insulation, making it ideal for the packaging and construction industries
EPS is among the biggest commodity polymers produced in the world. EPS is solid foam with a unique combination of characteristics, like lightness, insulation properties, durability and excellent process ability. EPS is used in many applications like thermal insulation board in buildings, packaging, cushioning of valuable goods and food packaging
EPS has been a material of choice for over half a century because of its technical versatility, performance and cost effectiveness. It is widely used in many everyday applications where its light weight, strength, durability, thermal insulation and shock absorption characteristics provide economic, high performance products.
EPS is an extremely lightweight material which is not surprising considering it is comprised of ~95% air. This characteristic makes it ideal for use in packaging as it does not significantly add to the weight of the total product thereby reducing transportation costs. Energy consumption for transport fuel is also reduced and vehicle emissions minimized – all contributing to lower global warming.
The exceptional durability of EPS makes it an effective and reliable protective packaging for a wide range of goods. The cellular structure of EPS makes it dimensionally stable and therefore does not deteriorate with age. EPS is also odorless and non-toxic.
EPS is a closed cell material and does not readily absorb water. There is no loss of strength in damp conditions, making EPS ideal for cool-chain products. The material is moisture resistant, so the highest hygiene requirements are met. The ability of EPS to resist moisture also lends itself for use in fishing floats and marina buoys. Even when subjected to prolonged saturation in water, EPS will still maintain its shape, size, structure and physical appearance with only a slight reduction to its thermal performance.
The superior thermal efficiency of EPS makes it ideal for packaging any product that is sensitive to temperature change. Products enclosed in EPS containers can be maintained for long periods at temperature above or below ambient conditions and can be protected from sudden temperature changes that can occur in the transport through different climatic zones. Examples include fresh produce and seafood as well as pharmaceutical and medical products.
EPS exhibits excellent shock absorbing characteristics making it the first choice for packaging of a wide range of products including appliances, electronic products, computers and chemicals.
EPS can be manufactured to almost any shape or size, or it can be easily cut and shaped when required to suit any application. EPS is also produced in a wide range of densities providing a varying range of physical properties. These are matched to the various applications where the material is used to optimize its performance. In addition, EPS is also compatible with a wide variety of materials.
Ease of use
For building and construction applications, EPS is considered to be one of the easiest materials to install on site. It is normally supplied in sheet form however can also be molded into shapes or in large blocks.
Main EPS market applications for Europe
Building & Insulation applications
EPS resins are among the most popular materials for building and construction applications. EPS insulation foam is used in closed cavity walls, roofs, floor insulation and more. With its excellent price/performance ratio EPS is also used in pontoons and road construction. In addition to its traditional insulation application in the construction industry, EPS foam also finds a wide use in civil engineering and building: road foundations, void forming, flotation, drainage, impact sound insulation, modular construction elements, cellular bricks, etc. They all exploit the excellent mechanical properties of EPS combined with fast construction / assembly and low subsequent maintenance.
Eggs, meat, fish, poultry, Cold drinks or carry-out meals. All these products are safely packed with EPS packaging materials; by doing so spoilage of foods is prevented. In the western world a combination of good packaging, refrigeration and transportation ensures that only two percent of food is lost through spoilage, compared with 50 percent in developing countries.
No matter what your products package, EPS have long been recognized as a versatile and cost-effective solution for foods and goods packaging. Expensive TV’s and all kind of IT equipment travel safely from the production line to the consumer’s houses. EPS is the leading choice for electronic goods cushioning.
Apart from the typical application in construction and packaging, EPS protective qualities can also be used in crash helmets – protecting the heads and potentially the lives of cyclists, or into surface and other decoration ranging from simple printing of a brand name to an elaborate pictorial representation achieved by mould engraving, or for fun and sports as surfing boards.
Recycling and Recovery
Expanded Polystyrene is completely recyclable. Recycling turns EPS that would otherwise become waste into valuable resources. There are four main waste reduction options for EPS packaging:
Refers to the reduction of natural resources used. By optimizing pack design, molds can reduce EPS usage, thus reducing environmental burden and cost. EPS packaging can be utilized in many ways after its original intended use. As such, they contribute towards protecting valuable resources.
EPS packaging can be re-used as multi-trip packaging, e.g. for the internal transport of partially assembled goods. Another simple re-use of the packaging is to grind it and use it as soil conditioner to improve drainage and aeration. EPS seed and pot-holding trays are often re-used in this way at garden centers.
Is the reprocessing of used EPS packaging to make a new material such as hardwood replacement for garden furniture, slate replacement for roofing tiles and new plastics items such as coat hangers, CD and video cases
EPS has a very high calorific value, higher than that of coal, and can be safely burnt within energy recovery units, or incinerators, without giving off toxic or environmentally damaging fumes.