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Similar types of closed-cell foams, expanded polyethylene (EPE) and ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) foams constitute the largest market segment in its product field. Both have outstanding distinguishing characteristics, such as shock absorption, flexibility, thermal insulation and water resistance. The two can also be produced at reasonable prices and often overlap in function. Nevertheless, a side-by-side comparison of the inherent physical properties of these foams reveals many key differences.
EPE Insulated Containers
Compared with EPE, one of the biggest advantages of EVA foam is its durability. The average density and tear strength of EVA foam are five or more times that of ordinary EPE foam. Due to its closed-cell structure, both have excellent cushioning and shockproof functions, but the EVA foam has a longer service life. This will naturally translate into higher prices, which makes EPE a better choice when cost is prioritized over product life.
EVA foam is more elastic than EPE, and the tensile strength of the former is several orders of magnitude higher than that of the latter. Compressive strength and elongation also change accordingly. EVA foam has higher recovery properties, making it an excellent and cost-effective alternative to rubber in certain applications. Although EPE has low elasticity, it is still flexible enough to wrap impact-sensitive products, making it an effective packaging material.
EPE foam has better thermal properties than EVA. For EPE foam, the typical range of thermal conductivity is 0.01-0.02 BTU/hr-ft°F, and for EVA, it is 0.25-0.29 BTU/hr-ft°F. The low thermal conductivity of EPE gives it excellent heat resistance, making it a good insulating material for walls, ceilings and roofs. Its effective use temperature range is -58°-158°F. For temperatures above this temperature, up to about 176°F, EVA foam will be a better choice.
Both materials show excellent versatility, with applications ranging from sports equipment and packaging to sound and heat insulation materials. EPE foam remains the material of choice for applications where cost-effectiveness is better than durability. Examples of these include packaging, carpet mats, trunk liners, door panels and car seats.
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