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The next step is to form the elongated beads. There are 2 shape options. One of them is with the help of a printing machine that prints the foam into the exact shape and size needed. Others use block molding machines that make foam blocks or slabs, 3' x 2' x 8' to 5' x 5' x 24'.
The expanded EPS beads are poured into the press for secondary heating by steam. This causes the foam to swell and press against each other until it becomes one solid piece of foam.
The two most commonly used blowing agents are pentane and carbon dioxide. This process, called polymerization, fills polystyrene with millions of air pockets that help it expand and also provide low thermal conductivity. During expansion, products can be shaped into various shapes and sizes. The end product is 90% air, but excellent EPS can have compressive strengths of up to 40psi.
In the final step, the EPS foam is removed from the press and cooled. If you use a molded model and make a smaller EPS mold, the cooling time will be faster than making an entire foam block. The larger the foam, the longer it has to cool. Printed EPS should be stored at room temperature (approximately 70F).