Our production systems are geared for the manufacture of pieces from 2D and 3D digital models. We have the capability to carve pieces out of most machineable products although, for reasons of economy, polystyrene foam and fibreboard wood products are most commonly used, however polyurehatne tooling board can also be used for more demanding applications.
Polystyrene foam is also referred to by any of the following names: styrofoam, EPS foam, polystyrene, PS foam, XPS foam or simply foam. They are all essentially the same thing, although the material comes in several different densities and corresponding strengths. ICS will provide a recommendation on the most appropriate type and density for the product proposed.
Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) is made using small polystyrene beads that are inflated using heat and a blowing agent within a block mould, where they expand. Expanded polystyrene is therefore made up of millions of closed cell spheres. The size of the spheres can be varied in the manufacturing process to produce a variety of densities (or grades) with different mechanical and thermal properties. Expanded Polystyrene is available in blocks 2400 x 1200 x 600mm.
Extruded Polystyrene (XPS) is made by mixing liquid chemicals together with a blowing agent, to form a frothing mixture, which is then pushed (or expanded) through a shaping die to give the required size. XPS is generally only available in sheets 2400mm x 600mm and various thicknesses upto 100mm. Extruded Polystyrene is about 8 times the cost of Expanded Polysytyrene, for a given volume.
The majority of 3D products made by Industrial Carving Services utilises Medium Density Expanded Polystyrene, which typically has a density of 19kg/m3. Other grades are used for specific applications.
The very latest polyurethane and epoxy glues enable ICS to manufacture end-products exceeding these base dimensions. However, customers usually request manufacture of elements in sizes that are more easily managed and transported – for assembly of the elements at their final destination.
Due to the relatively soft nature of Expanded polystyrene foam, we commonly apply a tough, durable polyurethane coating to our customer’s products.
Fibreboard, more generically known as medium density fibreboard (MDF), is also quite suitable for carving. It is substantially stronger than polystyrene foam but much heavier. Dimensions of the stock material do not offer the versatility offered by polystyrene foam.