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Thread: aviation grade styrofoam

  1. #1
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    Default aviation grade styrofoam

    Hi folks,


    I have a question about styrofoam - the material which is sometimes used in boatbuilding (for example flotations or various sandwiched structures). I have a piece of styrofoam which is in the folk words in USSR was called aviation grade styrofoam. I suppose it was used a lot in aviation industry back days.
    It was also used in old life jackets (see the peace of this material given by my father). Also this material was very popular among fishermen (see the photo of my fishing float which I made from the piece shown in the photo).
    This material is very light, pretty strong and easy to cut, drill/mill or sand.

    My question is: is the any analogue of this material in the west? What is the official/correct name of it? Is it possible to buy it somewhere?

    kind regards,
    Igor
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
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    Default Re: aviation grade styrofoam

    I could certainly be wrong, but to me that looks more like it might be polyurethane foam, rather than Styrofoam.
    You can get rigid polyurethane foam in sheets or blocks from places like this. It tends to be rather pricey stuff though, and you usually don't want to hot-wire cut it as the fumes of some types are toxic.

    https://www.generalplastics.com/rigid-foams

    The pink builder's Styrofoam tends to be very uniform inside if you can live with 2" thickness or laminate it for thicker stuff. It can be hot cut and will give off a few fumes, but they are not poison as such.

    foam-cutter.jpg

  3. #3
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    Default Re: aviation grade styrofoam

    Many modern day aircraft (eg. Cirrus SR-20 and SR-22) use foam core sandwich construction for primary structures (fuselage, flying surfaces, etc.). These materials are carefully manufactured, graded, and characterized so they behave reliably and predictably. I don't know what this particular sample from the USSR may be, but places like Aircraft Specialty and Spruce offer many foam core options.

    https://www.aircraftspruce.com/menus/cm/foam.html

    Good luck,

  4. #4
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    Default Re: aviation grade styrofoam

    I just cut some of that 2 inch Styrofoam with a sabre saw. No fumes. A carpenters saw should work just fine.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: aviation grade styrofoam

    Thread DERAIL warning!!

    [QUOTE=Todd Bradshaw;6707176]
    foam-cutter.jpgQUOTE]

    Oh man (or HO in this instance) does that pic tell me you messabout with model trains too Todd?
    "The energy sources we use to make electricity can be renewable (such as wind or solar) or nonrenewable, but electricity itself is neither renewable nor nonrenewable."

    https://amgreatness.com/2022/09/30/electric-mania/

  6. #6
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    Default Re: aviation grade styrofoam

    Yeah, I'm not a hard-core train geek, but I do have N Scale track running around the tops of the shelves in my office with two 50' loops. Since a fairly wide radius is required to turn the trains around it flares from the normal 12" width at both ends. One end then runs along the living room wall on an oak thing about the size of a fireplace mantel for about six feet before coming back into the office. The other end has a small section in the kitchen above the microwave and the dog food storage area. No train operations as such, I just like to let them run and considering that the total square footage is less than a 4 x 8 sheet of plywood would be, I can run long trains and they actually go away and come back. I used to disassemble, paint, weather and re-label N Scale steam engines and other locos then auction them on eBay, but I haven't done much lately. The base and all the rock cliffs are hot-cut pink styrofoam. Then they got white artist's gesso and washes of diluted acrylic artist's paint. The nice thing about using the hotwire is that there is no foam sanding or sawdust, which can be really difficult to keep under control and lasts forever.

    Video from the kitchen where the train starts its turn around.

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/9qyuzq3lwxi9n22/soo.mp4?dl=0

    UP Challenger, waiting for decals and final clearcoat.

    Challenger3.jpg

  7. #7
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    Default Re: aviation grade styrofoam

    You weren’t kidding when you said ‘long trains’!
    Rick Betterley
    Friendship, ME
    15 Penobscot Wherry
    24 Bridges Point daysailor
    21 Padebco Center console

  8. #8
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    Default Re: aviation grade styrofoam

    foam... I got foam.. PIR foam mostly.. lots of it..
    6067-120420203844.jpg
    where the gallon of glue is, is now the hillside with the mug being where the radar is.

    6067-110322222849.jpg
    the board above, you can just see the edge of on the right of shot..
    6067-250519194333.jpg
    Just an amateur bodging away..

  9. #9
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    Default Re: aviation grade styrofoam

    I got handed a repair job on a light aircraft, after it had flipped in a storm. The wing tanks had leaked petrol and destroyed a lot of the blue styrofoam used as part of the rib structure. All pop riveted with the leading edge shape formed by foam and the ribs behind the single spar foam with thin dural edging. I found the foam at the local big box store.

    Also made composites with Davinycell foam panels. Slight price difference to styrofoam.
    Last edited by Andrew2; 08-10-2022 at 06:01 AM.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: aviation grade styrofoam

    You can tell if its styrofoam if polyester resin melts it. Epoxy won't melt it. As far as "aircraft" goes the only foam I've seen on exp homebuilts is polyurethane with epoxy. Like posted already, Aircraft Spruce would be a place to start. Surfboard blanks are made of poyurethane and strength measured in density...the more pressure in the mold the denser/stronger it is...would also be cheaper than anything "aircraft".

  11. #11
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    Default Re: aviation grade styrofoam

    The blue foam mentioned in post #9 may well be this stuff.



    It used to be available fairly locally in 8'X2' slabs of the required thickness.You can cut it with hot wire as many aero modellers have done.I don't believe it has any place in lifejackets.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: aviation grade styrofoam

    Polystyrene is easily dissolved in various common chemicals like acetone, gasoline, paint thinner, etc. Test with one of them, if the foam melts it is PS, either expanded (many little beads) or extruded. If not it's most probably PU/PIR. Regardless of what it is, to find a replacement you need to know the density, so measure and weigh your sample. Once you know material and density it's easy, lower density foams can be had as insulation, higher densities are ordered from specialist foam suppliers.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: aviation grade styrofoam

    Thanks a lot for your answers!
    I was also searching on russian forums. People say that this material is not producing anymore. The material is based on epoxy. It can have a white or yellowish color.
    It has russian marking (ПУ-101 or ПХВ-1). This material is also popular among knifemakers (making unsinkable knifes).


    Igor.knives.jpg

  14. #14
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    Default Re: aviation grade styrofoam

    I think I found a patent for this material. "Method of obtaining of epoxy styrofoam".

    1-234660-patents.su.jpg

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