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What is EVA Foam: Best Uses and Where to Get It

What is EVA foam? EVA foam, or ethylene-vinyl acetate, is the copolymer of ethylene and vinyl acetate. Prized for its durability, flexibility, and low cost, EVA has gained popularity in producing products from sports equipment to packaging and even craft projects.

This article will explore this popular material, its best uses and advantages and provide insight on where to find high-quality EVA foam for your specific needs. Whether you are a professional looking for material solutions or a DIY enthusiast embarking on a new project, understanding EVA foam will be invaluable.

What are the Characteristics of EVA Foam?

A diagonal view of stacked EVA foam mats in a gradient of colors from red to purple, showcasing the textured layers and uniformity of the mats' edges.

EVA foam has several distinctive characteristics:

  • Lightweight: EVA foam is remarkably light, which makes it a popular choice for products that benefit from minimal weight, such as sports equipment or packaging.
  • Low Water Absorption: This foam has excellent moisture resistance, preventing degradation and making it suitable for marine applications and outdoor equipment.
  • Shock Absorption: With its cushioning properties, EVA effectively absorbs impacts, protecting items during transport and offering comfort in footwear and protective gear.
  • Stress-Crack Resistance: EVA foam exhibits enhanced stress-crack resistance to ensure it remains in excellent shape even under demanding conditions.
  • Flexibility: It is a flexible material, allowing manufacturers to mold it into different shapes and sizes without losing its structural integrity.
  • Insulation: It provides thermal and acoustic insulation, making it useful in flooring, sports mats, and the automotive industry.
  • Chemical Resistance: EVA foam stands up well against most common chemicals, ensuring longevity and durability in diverse environments.
  • UV Resistant: EVA foam’s resistance to UV radiation makes it the first choice for outdoor products. For example, fishing rods often have an EVA foam grip. 

What is the Manufacturing Process for EVA Foam?

EVA foam’s manufacturing process involves several steps to transform raw materials into the flexible, soft, yet resilient material commonly found in various products. Initially, the raw materials, including ethylene and vinyl acetate, are mixed under high heat and pressure to create a copolymer. This copolymer is then injected with a blowing agent and subjected to further heat, causing the material to expand and form a closed-cell foam structure. Once cooled, it’s cut into EVA foam sheets or molded into desired shapes. It is ready for use in EVA foam products that take advantage of its lightweight, water-resistant, and shock-absorbing properties.

What are the Three Types of EVA Copolymers?

The EVA copolymer is categorized based on the material’s content of vinyl acetate (VA). Here are the three types:

  1. Low Proportion VA (Approximately 4-30% VA): Sometimes referred to as vinyl acetate modified polyethylene, these copolymers are characterized by their strong intermolecular forces and crystalline structure, resulting in higher rigidity and tensile strength. They are processed as a thermoplastic elastomer material – just like low density polyethylene–and have some of the properties of a low-density polyethylene. They appear in products like flexible films and moldings.
  2. Medium Proportion VA (Approximately 30-50% VA): This range strikes a balance, offering improved clarity, flexibility, and toughness compared to low VA content EVA. It is called a thermoplastic ethylene-vinyl acetate copolymer, and it has some of the properties of a rubber. Companies use it in applications requiring elasticity and excellent impact resistance, such as sporting goods and flexible tubing.
  3. High Proportion VA (Over 50% VA): High VA content translates to increased flexibility, elasticity, and a lower melting point. Referred to as ethylene-vinyl acetate rubber, these copolymers are very transparent and have a high level of stickiness, making them ideal for applications like hot melt adhesives and coating for paper products.

What are Some of the Uses of EVA Foam?

what is EVA foam

EVA foam material is a versatile and durable material known for its lightweight and cushioning properties. Here are some common uses:

  • Sports Equipment: EVA foam is frequently used in sports shoes for midsoles because of its shock-absorbing qualities and in protective gear such as helmets and pads.
  • Yoga and Exercise Mats: EVA foam mats in yoga and exercise studios provide a comfortable surface and support for participants during floor exercises and workouts. 
  • Toys: The foam’s soft yet durable nature makes it ideal for children’s foam stickers and toys, providing them safe for play.
  • Packaging: Its excellent cushioning properties are beneficial for packing and transporting goods as it can absorb impact and protect items from damage.
  • Cosplay Costumes: EVA foam is popular among “costume players” for constructing lightweight, affordable, and moldable costumes and prop pieces.
  • Healthcare: Companies use it to produce comfortable orthotic supports, such as insoles and knee braces, that conform to the body’s contours.
  • Building and Construction: EVA is also used in flooring, gaskets, and, in some cases, as insulation because of its resistance to harsh weather conditions and UV radiation.
  • Misc. Uses: EVA is used with wax and resin additives to make hot-melt adhesives, hot glue sticks, bonding plastic films, and football cleats.

Is EVA a Rubber or a Plastic?

EVA stands at the crossroads between rubber and plastic materials. Because it is a polymer exhibiting properties common to both rubber-like elastomeric materials (like natural rubber) and plastic substances, it’s called an ‘elastomeric polymer.’ What sets EVA apart is its exceptional ability to be flexible like foam rubber, resisting cracks and UV radiation, and tough and clear like plastic. EVA is particularly well-known for providing excellent cushioning, which is why it’s often found in the soles of sports shoes and equipment padding.

Where is EVA Foam Available?

EVA foam is readily available across various retail platforms, including craft stores, sporting goods suppliers, and home improvement centers. Additionally, EVA foam is accessible online through e-commerce giants like Amazon or specialized foam suppliers, allowing consumers to choose from many thicknesses, densities, and sizes suitable for their specific project needs.  For commercial applications, fabricators and distributors like Rubber Resource are the best bet, as they get bulk pricing from the manufacturers and are experienced with producing quality parts from EVA.

Is EVA Foam Safe and Eco-Friendly?

A vibrant close-up image of interlocking EVA foam play mats in various colors including blue, purple, orange, red, and green, each piece featuring a large number embossed in a contrasting color, with a textured surface visible on the mats.

EVA foam is generally considered a safe material for use in various products, such as play mats and sports equipment, due to its low toxicity and softness, which helps prevent injuries. However, regarding environmental friendliness, EVA’s impact is more complex. While it is free of chlorine, a potential source of hazardous dioxins, EVA is not biodegradable. Recycling options for EVA foam are limited and less common than for other materials, posing challenges for disposal and potentially contributing to environmental pollution if not appropriately handled.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, now you can answer, “What is EVA Foam?” EVA foam is an innovative and versatile material that has revolutionized various industries, from sports equipment to construction. Its unique properties, including durability, shock absorption, water resistance, and lightweight, make it ideal for numerous applications. Thanks to its adaptability and the limitless potential for customization, EVA foam will likely play a significant role in creating the future of manufactured products. Whether for daily use items or specialized equipment, EVA foam is a material that represents the harmony of form and function.

If you’re intrigued by the versatility and numerous benefits of EVA foam and are considering it for your next project, don’t hesitate to explore your options further. For a personalized approach and a selection that meets your exact specifications, consider reaching out for a quote. Rubber Resource offers not only a wide variety of EVA foam options but also the expertise to guide you to the perfect material choice for your unique application.

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