Plastazote, Ethafoam & Stratocell Foam Conversion
Cost effective, performance packaging from the UK’s leading independent foam converters
GWP Protective have over 25 years’ experience as independent, UK based foam converters.
This means that regardless of the industry or market sector you operate in or the products, tools, or equipment you need to protect, your business can source custom size foam inserts and bespoke foam packaging that you can truly rely on.
Please select from the categories below to see all types of foam insert, packaging, and options available from GWP Protective. Alternatively, if you cannot see exactly what you require, please contact a member of our team who will be happy to advise on the best solution for your specific application.
Precision engineered foam inserts with customised protection levels
Please see below for the range of Plastazote foam inserts for cases / containers that GWP can design and manufacture for your business.
High volume, single trip foam packaging for shipping and ecommerce
Low cost packaging foam such as Stratocell and Ethafoam end caps are ideal for minimising shipping damage and costs. Please see your options below.
Luxury foam packaging for use in gift boxes and premium retail / branded applications
Foam can often be overlooked for luxury packaging applications, but it’s a great choice for added value, brand differentiation and enhancing customer experience.
Custom foam trays, dividers, shadow boards and other handling products
Besides packaging applications, foam dunnage can also help to dramatically improve the efficiency of part and component handling in production environments / assembly lines.
Waterproof, aluminium, lightweight plastic, custom built flight cases and more
Besides being leading foam manufacturers, as an independent business GWP Protective can also provide your business with the widest range of protective case options from a single supplier (and offer truly impartial advice as a result). See the case options you can choose from below.
Additional exterior packaging options for your foam inserts
Besides protective cases, you can also source your corrugated cardboard boxes, plastic totes, and anti-static packaging from a single source. And by doing so, your business can see improved compatibility (and therefore performance / cost effectiveness) between outer packaging and your foam cut to size.
Foam Conversion Process
Ways in which foam packaging manufacture takes place
Primarily utilising Plastazote (for high protection applications), Stratocell and Ethafoam (for single trip requirements) plus a range of other specialist foams, GWP fabricate your foam inserts and packaging using a wide range of techniques. Many of these utilise cutting edge processes and CAD CAM technologies.
This variety of techniques employed ensures that your case inserts and / or foam packaging is tailored to your exact requirements, whilst maintaining the performance levels demanded by the your specific market, application or product.
Please continue reading below for further information on the specific types of conversion and technical foam services GWP Protective offers.
Foam Die Cutting
In essence, die cutting is the process of using a tool (die) to press foam to specific shapes, creating bespoke cushion packaging and case inserts (it is also used for non packaging products such as upholstery foam).
Whilst it may sound simple, the process is so precise it can be used to cut through single layers of material (for example where different coloured foams have been bonded together in layers). This in turn allows for the creation of visually attractive results and precise finishes. This is known as “Kiss Cutting”, and is a process widely used by foam converters.
Die cutting as part of the foam conversion process is carried out on a flatbed press. The requirement for tooling however means that it is generally used for larger runs, where the cost of this tooling is more easily absorbed.
As expert foam suppliers, GWP Protective use the latest Die Cutting equipment at our production facility in Salisbury. This ensures your finished die cut foam products are produced to exceptionally high standards.
CNC Routed Foam
One of the main foam conversion processes used for the creation of case inserts at GWP Protective (and indeed many other foam converters) is CNC routing.
This is a computer-controlled process which is linked directly to our designers’ CAD software.
By uploading the 3-dimensional profiles to the machine, the router head is then able to systematically cut away foam material to create exceptionally intricate shapes within your fabricated foam products, to exacting tolerances.
By first digitising the product to be placed within the routed foam insert, GWP also ensures that the match between the item and the case insert is as close as possible.
CNC routing produces consistent, high quality engineered foam products. Also, due to the elimination of physical tooling costs (unlike die-cutting), the process can create one-off routed foam inserts very cost effectively.
Waterjet / Laser Cut Foam
As an alternative to CNC routing and Die Cutting, GWP Protective can also offer you engineered foam items that have been created by water jet cutting.
This equipment effectively uses a CNC controlled jet of water at high pressure to cut intricate shapes in foam materials
Water jet cutting has a number of advantages over traditional die cut foam and routed foam inserts. For example, it leaves no radius in corners, is exceptionally precise and does not cause heat build-up which can affect the properties of the foam.
Besides this, it can also create narrow slots to much greater depths than other methods, and provides a very clean, smooth finish with no dust residues either. It can also boast accuracy of up to 0.005″ (0.13 mm), and repeatability of 0.001″ (0.025 mm).
Besides this, fabrication of foam in this manner produces no hazardous waste, eliminates airborne dust particles and fumes, and uses very little water due to its’ “closed loop” setup.
Foam Conversion Video
Key details in 3 minutes
Besides the details of the manufacturing processes used when producing your foam inserts and / or packaging as per the info above, you can also watch this short video to see them in practice.
Foam Conversion FAQs
Frequently asked questions for foam converters
Below is a list of the most commonly asked questions on the topic of foam conversion.
Can’t see the answer to your specific question? Don’t worry, a member of the GWP Protective team will be happy to help. Simply get in touch on 01722 416 440 or email
What is foam conversion?
Foam conversion is the term given to taking a raw foam material and turning it into a useful product. Whilst this can be for anything from upholstery to shoe insoles, generally the term foam conversion will apply to the manufacture of protective packaging such as box or case inserts.
What methods are used for converting foam?
There are a number of methods of foam conversion. This includes die cutting, CNC routing, waterjet cutting and even laser cutting / engraving. For many protective packaging products, a number of these processes will be used together to create the finished item.
What types of foam are converted to packaging?
Different foams will be used to create different forms of protective packaging. However, the most commonly used (and versatile) are polyethylenes such as Plastazote. This material is widely used in a range of products, including high performance case inserts. Saying that, other foams such as Stratocell and Ethafoam are used for high volume / single trip packaging requirements, such as foam end caps.
Is there a difference between case foam and packaging foam?
As a general rule of thumb, Plastazote tends to be used for foam inserts for protective cases (and other applications such as tool control / shadow boards), whereas lower cost foams such as Stratocell are used for foam “packaging”. This is because Plastazote has a longer life, whereas Stratocell is lower cost (and therefore more suited to single trip applications).
What is Plastazote?
Plastazote is a cross linked, closed cell polyethylene foam that is extremely versatile. It is manufactured by Zotefoams (and is part of the Azote range of products) and is used for products as diverse as swimming floats, sports equipment, gaskets and – of course – protective packaging.
Will foam absorb water / moisture?
The foams that GWP use in the manufacture of case inserts and other forms of packaging are what are known as “closed cell”. What this means is that cells are completely encased in the polyethylene material, meaning that water or other liquids cannot be absorbed into the material.
Is packaging foam different from upholstery / mattress foam?
Whilst there are some similarities between the foams used for packaging and upholstery, the main difference is that those used in furniture / seating / etc. are open celled. This means they are generally cheaper and also more comfortable. They would not generally be as effective in protecting items during transit, as per the closed cell foams converted by GWP.
How do I choose a foam conversion process for my packaging / inserts?
The choice of conversion methods (not to mention material types, grades, and colours) can be overwhelming. Which is why, with over 25 years’ experience, GWP will be happy to offer free, completely impartial advice on what we feel is the best option for your specific application. You can leave the technical aspects of any design you require to a team of experienced, knowledgeable engineers.
About GWP Protective
Foam converters you can trust
There are many companies offering foam fabrication and conversion services. For many, this is simply a way to sell more exterior cases or boxes, with little thought as to how the foam insert can impact the longevity and success of the packaging.
However, with over 25 years’ experience, GWP Protective take a different approach to foam conversion / design projects.
In fact, we will always look to ensure that by working with GWP, your business sees a direct, positive impact on your operations. This is true whether you are looking for high volumes or a one-off design. If you are looking for a precisely engineered level of cushioning protection for high value items, or need to ship large numbers of consumer goods.
With a depth of understanding and knowledge as polyethylene foam converters, your business can tap into a wealth of experience in converting Plastazote, Stratocell and Ethafoam materials (amongst others).
A team of expert advisers will be happy to guide you through the entire foam design and manufacturing process, ensuring your foam packaging is produced to your exact requirements.
And, unlike many other foam converters, this covers everything from transit protection to the presentation of luxury consumer goods, and everything in between.
This level of knowledge and support – your business will be allocated a dedicated advisor and designer – is enhanced further using the latest technology. This includes state of the art of CAD design software, used by a dedicated, highly skilled foam design team.
So, if you are looking for successful, experienced foam converters, GWP Protective can help.
Get advice from a foam conversion specialist
It can seem bewildering when presented with the various conversion options, foam grades, densities, colours etc. But GWP are here to help!
If you would like free, no obligation advice on the best form of foam packaging and / or inserts for your business, then please speak with one of our friendly and knowledgeable foam converters today.