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Expanded polystyrene, often shortened to EPS, is a form of polystyrene plastic; it is a thermoplastic made by polymerising the monomer styrene into polymer chains. Polystyrene is made into expanded polystyrene by taking beads of polystyrene, circulating steam through them and then mixing in a small amount of pentane gas. This causes the beads to expand to approximately 40 times their original size, now being mostly filled with air.
It is the airiness of expanded polystyrene that gives it its foam-like properties and makes it such a widely used material in packaging. It is very durable, extremely lightweight, and very easy to shape, making it the ideal choice for the packaging of electronics or other fragile items. Also, due to its low conductivity, it is frequently used for insulation. In fact, expanded polystyrene was first developed in the 1940s to be a replacement for traditional insulation materials such as cellulose and fibreglass.
Due to its many advantageous properties, its low cost and how easily it can be produced, expanded polystyrene is one of the most commonly used foam materials in the world. Some more examples of its applications are in construction materials, consumer materials, geofoam in engineering, aquaculture, agriculture, medical equipment, sporting equipment and more.
Frequently asked questions
Expanded Polystyrene, also known as EPS, is made up of lots of little beads of Polystyrene that are expanded with gas. When bunched together these beads form a rigid material that is lightweight enough to be usable for products such as insulation, packaging materials, outdoor furniture and more.
When set, Expanded Polystyrene is rigid and very tough considering its lightweight; this makes it a popular choice for packaging materials. Whereas this material can be durable enough to be used in products such as coat hangers and outdoor furniture, it is not as hard as some other plastics.
Expanded Polystyrene is relatively a very strong material, considering its lightweight. It is a popular choice for use in packaging materials, but it is also durable enough for use in products such as window and door frames, containers and roof tiles.
Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) is a highly versatile material due to the fact that it is lightweight and tough, meaning it has a wide variety of applications. EPS is a popular choice in packaging materials, but is also used for items such as window and door frames, roof tiles, containers, coat hangers and outdoor furniture.
Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) is made by using gas to expand small beads of Polystyrene. This means that EPS is in fact around 98% trapped air and only 2% plastic; this makes EPS a very cost-effective means of insulation.