How Auralex Acoustic Foam Is Made
The two most commonly-used sound absorption materials are high-quality acoustic foam and specialized acoustic fiberglass (no, not the stuff you buy at the hardware store). For brevity, at times we'll generically call acoustic foam just plain "foam," although there are very dramatic differences in cell structure and density between acoustic foam and the thousands of other types Auralex could manufacture. (This is why you can't just run down to the local SuperMart and buy mattress pads with which to acoustically treat your studio.)
In addition to the two most popular types of acoustic absorption materials, Auralex offers a Class A, fire resistant, natural fiber panel called SonoFiber. SonoFiber acoustic panels are the perfect solution for those budget-conscious projects requiring a Class A fire rating without the aesthetic demands of designer treatments such as fabric-covered panels.
Acoustic sound absorption foam is well-suited to alleviate slap and flutter echo, the two most common problems in rooms not specifically designed for music recording and performance. In fact, foam can turn even the most cavernous warehouse or gymnasium into a suitable acoustic environment.
AudioTile 2" Studiofoam Wedge
Over the last 21 years Auralex have been asked hundreds of times how foam is actually produced, so they decided to put down on paper some of the high points.
2" Studiofoam Wedge
Here they are:
Foam begins life as a bunch of different, mostly imported chemicals which are scientifically blended to an exacting formula. The various chemicals are slowly and continuously released onto a moving, sloped conveyor belt that’s about 7 feet wide by 300 feet long and that moves at a slow, controlled rate of speed.
By the time the chemicals have blended and the belt has moved 6 feet, a chemical reaction has occurred and the liquid chemicals have turned into solid foam that’s grown to about 30” high. By the time the belt has travelled 12 feet, the foam has grown to nearly 4 feet high and its internal temperature is nearly 500 degrees. A star is born.
When the conveyor belt has moved the foam 300 feet down the line, a large machine chops the foam into what we call buns, large blocks of foam that measure about 9 feet long by 4 feet high by 6.5 feet wide. Further down the line a large crane picks up the buns and moves them into the storage room, which is about as big as 3 football fields and about 50 feet high.
From there, the buns are moved to the fabrication department where the top, sides and bottom of each bun are cut off in a process called blocking, thus yielding buns that are all consistently sized. These buns are then slit into smaller slabs from which the nested pairs of Studiofoam, SonoMatt and other Auralex products are produced.
In the case of Studiofoam and other wedge-cut Auralex products, the slabs are carefully and precisely loaded onto the German-made computer-controlled saw, which then cuts the special shapes that give our products their industry-leading performance. In the case of SonoMatt, the slabs are loaded one at a time into a German-made convoluter, a machine with large solid iron, precisely engineered rollers that compress the foam slab while a fast-moving blade in between them slits the slab in two.
The computer control panel of our German-made saw. This machine can measure cuts to thousandths of an inch! A close up of the iron rollers on the convoluting machine
that’s used to produce SonoMatt acoustic foam. One of the Auralex folks relaxing next to buns of foam that have come off the production line.
This is a bun that’s been blocked and is being moved over to the slitter. The slitting machine cutting a bun down into smaller blocks that’ll then be cut into finished Auralex products.
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