Open Cell Sponge Material: Features, Benefits and Emerging Applications

How is open cell sponge made?

Open cell sponge rubber is created by incorporating a gas producing agent such as baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) which gives off gas and expands the mass during the vulcanization process.  Similar to when baking, as the uncured sponge rubber is heated or molded, the agent expands when heated.  The result is a material with a vast network of open cells throughout.

Open cell sponge rubber can be produced in sheets, rolls, and custom profiles to meet engineers’ performance and aesthetic needs.  Highly configurable, the material can be die-cut and special characteristics can be specified.

Open Cell Sponge Material Illustration

Rogers offers a wide range of open cell, cellular rubber products based predominantly on natural rubber, but also include offerings in neoprene and EPDM. Working with open cell sponge or open cell foam provides extreme versatility when partnering with our engineers to develop the exact material and resulting performance characteristics you need for your project.

Features and Characteristics of Open Cell Sponge 

When engineers are choosing a material for their specific application, it’s important to consider which kind of rubber will best serve your unique requirements. The benefits of each type of foam can differ depending on your specific industry, so it’s important to fully assess each option before moving forward.

Given the open cell nature of the end product, gas, air and water can seamlessly pass from one cell to another, giving the material very useful and unique properties.  A key characteristic of open cell sponge (compared to closed cell sponge) is that it generally has better compression set.  Compression set is a measurement of how an elastomeric material returns to its original thickness after being subjected to a specific compressive load or deflection for a fixed period of time.

Put more simply, this test measures how the air will rush out of the open cells whenever pressure is put on it during use – and then gauges how air will rush back in once that compression is released.  Ultimately you want to know how quickly and completely the open cell sponge can recover to its full height (something that is not true of closed cell materials.) The compression set test is used to determine how the material will perform for a certain application type.  The open cell sponge tends to be more spring-like than closed cell, returning closer to its original state after compression, making it soft, breathable, and flexible.

Applications and Uses for Open Cell Sponge Materials

Open cell sponge material offers a wealth of benefits for innovative products and solutions that leverage its superior compressibility, absorbency, elasticity and excellent surface adhesion.  Applications such as industrial cushioning, sound absorption, environmental – dust & dirt seals, space fillers, mechanical vibration dampening, air filters, thermal barriers and insulating, and shock absorbing padding – can all gain from the advanced qualities of this flexible, high-performance material. Typical applications/products benefitting from open sponge cell include: