Why is UK manufactured acoustic foam not black?
Having operated in the acoustic foam sector for over 10 years this is something we get quite a lot of questions about.
Unfortunately in recent years the UK market has been flooded with vaccum packed black, compressed foam from China and the far east which is sold under different brands.
Acoustic Foam in UK and Europe is manufactured by a handful of manfacturers who have to comply with very strict fire and material safety standards. The foam that is used in acoustic treatment has to be combustion modified to at least Crib V in the UK or UL94 HF1 in the US.
This fire rating means the foams will not catch fire if exposed to a burning match, something that would be catastrophic for the end user were it to occur.
In order to make foams fire retardant, a significant amount of fire retardant is applied to the foam mixture which creates a combustion modified foam.
The fire retardants however, also react with the pigments creating variations in colour. Most notably any black pigment used to colour foam blocks will become grey or dark grey depending on the grade due to the reaction of the pigments and the foam. This is the reason why there is no European or UK manufacturer able to produce and supply black acoustic grade foam.
Further more, foam in the European markets, unless for bespoke applications is visually graded using colour. This helps converters and manufacturers identify simply by looking what grade a particular foam block is. Grey has become the accepted colour for acoustic foam with darker greys reflecting higher density. Black foam can be produced in sheets by impregnating carbon into the foam this makes his fireproof. This specialist foam has a very strong chemical smell and isn't designed for panels that are visible but rather hidden behind machinery parts and car hoods. This foam also isn't available in blocks to be cut into acoustic panels using CNC machinery.
It is possible however, to get black "acoustic" foam from the far east being sold on ebay and amazon market. However, user feedback has shown that these are of lower density, have very strong toxic smell and are not tested to UK/EU fire and safety guidlines.
Don't put your life and those of your loved ones at risk. Buy foam manufactured and tested in Britain for peace of mind.