Polystyrene sheets are typically of two kinds – expanded polystyrene (EPS) or extruded polystyrene foam (XPS). They can also be referred to as insulation boards (or extruded polystyrene insulation boards for that matter), normally are white in color (sometimes can be blue) and regardless of manufacturer, they are sometimes generalized as Styrofoam (a trademark of the Dow Chemical Company of the extruded polystyrene foam kind). Such sheets are available from a number of manufacturers, such as Springvale, Jablite, Kay-Metzeler and so forth, with this size being popular and standard – 2400mm x 600mm x 25mm. Other sizes are available with non-typical sheet thickness as much as 100mm with other sizes also available upon negotiation with the factories/retailers. Newer versions of polystyrene sheets are made chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) and hydro chlorofluorocarbons-free (HCFC) which makes them eco-friendly and a lot less dangerous to the ozone layer depletion.
Their popularity in commercial construction and do-it-yourself home projects is largely due to their light weight, impact-resistance, ease to work with and cut into unique shape as needed, no odor, float on water (buoyancy) etc. Popular applications for polystyrene sheets are flooring, wall and internal roof insulation, built-into home appliances, packaging industry helpers, under roads and other infrastructure to prevent from freezing, inclement weather, pipe insulation, void fill, sound proofing etc. Polystyrene sheets have tremendously low thermal conductivity which is typically measured in watts per Kelvin meter. This calls for good insulation qualities of polystyrene.
Some of their exceptional features include resistance to mold and mildew or any other style of fungi, bacteria or microorganism. What is more, polystyrene sheets will never rot – this could create a rather rare environmental disposal challenge which will be addressed in another post – here it is pointed out as an advantage. Certain brands or distributions can be paired up with water resistance which makes them extremely versatile on the construction arena including wet areas in combination with drywall etc. In addition, some expanded foam sheets inherit inertness from their polystyrene roots which makes them rather resistant to chemical reaction with solvents, light acid, oils etc. In some occasions, manufacturers would add fire retardant additives during the production phases – while this does not make polystyrene sheets fire-resistant, much less fire-proof, it does add an extra layer of safety.
A less popular application of polystyrene sheets is in arts and crafts and mainly by florists or special events organizers. Expanded polystyrene is an excellent base where decorations, flowers, ornaments etc. can be pinned/attached to with ease and no tools. Its shape in the crafts area is not limited to sheets – it can be cones, heavy blocks (to go on bottom of vases), spheres, angles, molded corners, custom end caps etc.
Polystyrene loose fill chips or otherwise known as packaging peanuts are another representative – they allow for snug fit inside large and small cardboard boxes and can easily be scooped before and after merchandise is seated in its transpiration container. Use of proper packing tape is mandatory to prevent cardboard boxes from opening while in transit.
Back home to small cardboard boxes.
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