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Foam board is one of the commonly used products in lighting design because of its ability to assume various shapes upon curving. This product is commonly used in mounting graphic prints, paintings, 3-dimensional designs, and in picture framing (Gibbs 70). The product is made up of three layers which not only to give it the strength needed in different designs but also to add to its ability to withstand unique carvings which are sometimes needed in 3-dimensional designs. According to Pile (90), Monsanto Company introduced foam board into the graphic industry in the late 1950s following the growing concerns that the wood that was used during this time was no longer effective enough to support the new designs that were needed. Because of its effectiveness in light designs, picture framing, document mounting, and other artistry works, Foamboard gained massive popularity in the United States, and later to other parts of the world. Currently, this product is still very popular, especially in lighting designs. The lighting designs used for hotel decorations, home lightings, club lighting designs, and many other lighting designs use this material because of its ability to withstand heat and the fact that it can be curved to assume different shapes. In this research study, the scholar will investigate and document the raw materials needed in the manufacture of foam boards.
Raw Materials Acquisition
It is important to understand the specific raw materials which are used in the manufacture of foam boards. According to Bliss (113), there has been a massive transformation in the process and materials used in the manufacture of the foam boards. The main material used in the manufacture of the foam boards is paper. The research by Jeferson (89) shows that the invention of the foam boards came from the realization of the fact that paper could be reshaped to form different materials that may include different suite functions. The original foam boards were manufactured using papers and water. Even in the current world, paper remains the single most important raw material in the manufacturing of this product. The papers used in the manufacturing of the foam boards can be obtained from various sources. In most of the cases, the papers used in this process are waste materials, especially from the old newspapers. The newspapers form a perfect raw material because it can easily be dissolved in various solvents to assume different shapes with the desired thickness. Old newspapers are also readily available in this country because many people still value reading the newspapers for varying reasons.
Some of the papers are obtained from the old discarded books in the major libraries across the country. According to Gibbs (47), in the past, manufacturers found it difficult to use some form of papers, especially those from books because of their slow ability to dissolve in some of the solvents. However, this problem has been solved with the invention of advanced technologies in this field that makes it almost possible to use any form of paper to manufacture foam boards. Using this new technology, manufacturers are currently able to use old books, including their hardcovers, to make foam boards. These old papers would be collected and assembled at a strategic location and later transported to the manufacturing plant.
At this stage, it is important to understand the source of all forms of papers. As Jeferson (40) says, papers are made from trees. Not all trees are able to provide papers. There are specific woody trees that are needed to manufacture papers. After obtaining the huge logs of wood, they are always subjected to a series of processes that include the use of relevant chemicals to eliminate any coloration on the wood before it becomes a paper. The final result of these processes would be sheets of paper that could be used in different fields. It is this paper that will form the primary raw material for the manufacture of foam boards.
Besides the paper, there are other raw materials that are needed to transform the paper into a foam board. According to Lynch (56), the relevant solvent is another primary ingredient needed to manufacture foam boards. Water was the main solvent that was used to manufacture the foam boards in the past. Pure water was considered effective because of its ability to dissolve newspapers and other similar papers. Some manufacturers prefer using alkaline materials to dissolve this material, especially when dealing with heavier papers. Sometimes it may be necessary to discolor the papers before they are put into use. This is always the case when dealing with newspapers. To do this, many manufacturers use special acidic solutions that wipe out the colors from the papers before they can be transformed into finished products.
Foams used in light design always require the use of different colors. According to Gibbs (78), colors play an important role in lighting designs. Depending on the locations of the lights, blue, white, red, green, violet, or an array of other colors may be needed. In American society, color is considered important because they are considered to convey a specific message. The colors used in lighting designs to be used in hospitals are different from that which is used in night clubs or at restaurants. This means that paints of different colors will be needed to give the right impression based on the place where the product will be used. According to Piotrowski (89), the main raw material for the foam boards is paper. The paper may not work well with water paints. The water paints may erode the paper, making it lose its attractive shape. Rendow (23) also says that water paints do not give sharp impressions that are always needed for lighting designs.
Another factor that makes water paints undesirable for this process is the fact that it does not last. Any small touch on the water paint will make it fade away. In lighting designs, the option to repaint is always not common because the client may not be in a position to return the product to the company for repainting. They may also not be in a position to do the painting themselves. This means that the use of such a lighting design will come to an end as soon as the paints wear off. Given the ease with which the water paints wears off, the product will be short-lived, a fact that may lead to customer satisfaction. It is for these reasons that many manufacturers consider using advanced paints that use kerosene instead of water. These advanced paints not only give sharp colors on the lighting designs but also lasts for a very long time. They also stick well on the foams, without causing erosion because of their high viscosity. The paints will be needed for different colors.
Manufacturing, Processing, and Formulation
During the manufacturing process, it is important to understand some of the raw materials that would be needed to have the right product that meets the desires of the customers in the market. It is important to note that the raw materials used at this stage will be accompaniments to the primary raw materials discussed in the section above. According to Bonda and Sosnowchik (29), when making the frames using the foam boards, it is always necessary to stick together the edges into a seamless product that no one can detect the joints. In large frames, nails may be needed to offer strong support to the frame. The nails used at this stage will vary in size depending on the size of the frame. Large frames would require larger nails to provide stronger support. Small frames will need small nails to protect the frames from cracking. The color of the nails may not be considered important because as Rendow (97) says, the final product should perfectly conceal these joineries. The finished product should be seamless, and this means that the nails would be completely covered. For this reason, the color may not mean much.
Some of the designers prefer using glue in the joineries. This is specifically common when using thin foam boards such as the 1/8 inch. Such thin boards may not sustain the nails effectively. It is important to understand the fact that not all types of glue may deliver the results needed. Given the fact that the board is majorly a modified paper, the glue that can be used at this stage must be selected with precision. High-end adhesive sprays are commonly used during the manufacturing process. There are cases where manufacturers prefer using hot glue guns as an alternative to the high-end adhesive sprays because of its efficiency. The choice of the glue would depend on the product being manufactured and the quality that is needed.
Distribution and Transportation
During the distribution process, there are some materials needed to ensure that the products reach the market in good shape and at the right time. Fuel can be considered as a raw material at this stage because it will be consumed by the trucks to transport the products to the market. There are special containers that are always used to pack the products before they are loaded into the tracks. These containers are important because they ensure that the products inside do not get damaged while in transit. Most of these products are used locally, so tracks from the main means of distribution. The tacks, therefore, form an important material that enables the manufacturer to make the products available in the market.
Use, Re-Use, and Maintenance
During the process of using these products, there are some materials that are needed to make the product functional. The lighting design frames need to be fixed on the walls. This is always done using bolds and nuts of varying sizes and shape depending on the design and size of the frame. A bulb will also be needed as the last material that will make the entire system complete and ready to give the services it was meant to deliver.
In some cases, the old foam boards are always returned to the manufacturer for recycling. In this case, there are some materials that will be needed to create a new product. There are chemicals that will be needed to break down the material and to eliminate the colors. Glue, nails, and paints will also be needed at this stage to recycle the product successfully.
Waste management is very important when it comes to the disposal of the foam boards. Although the material is bio-degradable, it is necessary to find a way of speeding up the process to eliminate cases of polluting the environment. Some types of foam boards may cost more to recycle than to manufacture new ones. In such cases, the products would be piled, and specially treated lumber would be dropped into the PPile to speed up the process of decomposition.
It is clear from the above analysis that lighting designs made from foam boards undergo a series of processes and uses various raw materials before it can finally be used to give the desired services. The discussion revealed that the main raw material for this product is paper. Paper can be collected from various sources, majorly from the old newspapers. Other important raw materials include relevant solvents, paints, glue, and nails. When fixing the lighting designs, special bolts are required to hold the frame on the wall.
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