Temperature and Mold Size Effects on Physical and Mechanical Properties of a Polyurethane Foam

Document Type



Rigid polyurethane foams are used as thermal or vibration insulators and energy absorption material, and are often molded directly in place, where a smooth, thin skin forms between the mold and the cellular structure. Density gradients and the presence of a skin are known to affect the mechanical properties of the foam. We investigate the effect of processing temperature (25, 40, 65, and 85 C) and mold size (aluminum cylinders with diameters of 29, 41, and 51mm) on the average density and density gradients (radial and vertical) of a free-rise, water blown, rigid polyurethane foam system, and measure the effects on compressive modulus of elasticity and collapse stress. In general, both average density and radial density gradients decrease with increasing processing temperature and larger mold sizes. A reduction in average foam density corresponds with decreases in the elastic modulus and compressive strength. These mechanical properties are compared to reference samples extracted from very large batches of foam with a uniform density of 0.10 g/cc, where normalization of the compressive data shows the elastic modulus to exhibit the strongest dependence on processing temperature and mold size.


Density gradients; Foamed materials – Density; Foamed materials – Mechanical properties; Manufacturing processes; Mechanical properties; Polyurethane foam; Polyurethanes – Density; Polyurethanes – Mechanical properties; Processing effects


Materials Science and Engineering | Mechanical Engineering | Mechanics of Materials | Polymer and Organic Materials


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