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Why Shadow Foam is perfect for Shadow Boards - Shadow Foam

Why Shadow Foam is perfect for Shadow Boards

For years the tool shadow board was thought to be the domain only of aviation engineers. Indeed, that’s how Shadow Foam was born. When MD Jonathan wanted to replicate these levels of tool control using shadow boards the only options out there were expensive, involved sending your tools away for too long, or required specialised cutting equipment. And as the shadow board is something that can be used by anyone, in any walk of life, he wanted to bring it to the mass market.

Shadow boards – no longer just for aviation engineers!

Years later following much research and development, shadow boards are being used by thousands to organise and protect their tools. Here’s how and why Shadow Foam has become the perfect technical foam product with which to create your tool shadow board.

Durability and sustainability

The first guise of Shadow Foam was called Shadow Foam Original. This was great, it was a soft polyurethane foam that was black to the base and coloured on top. But it had some drawbacks. Manufacture was a difficult process. Also polyurethane foam isn’t widely recycled which meant it didn’t meet our sustainability aims either. Also, for anyone not adept with a blade, it could be slightly tricky to work with as you’d have to not only cut around the profile of the tools, but beneath them too. Whilst the product could sustain repeated daily use and last a long time, given the makeup of the product it wasn’t as robust and long-lasting as we would like it to be. Lastly from a cleaning perspective, as it was a softer material it wasn’t particularly easy to clean. Not least for these reasons, we needed to find another solution.

An example of the wear-and-tear that could happen with the old Shadow Foam Original following daily use over around a 7 year period.

So how could we improve…?

So a few years ago the product we now know and love was born. Originally called Shadow Foam Easy Peel just to differentiate it from the Shadow Foam Original product. This was going to be a game changer.

Now of course it’s just called Shadow Foam. And as of 2021 it’s the only grade of foam we offer. It’s manufactured from Polyethylene. That means that not only can we use recycled Polyethylene foam in it’s production, but also means that offcuts are now widely recyclable. The method of manufacture also meant that the colour could be on the base of the foam, giving it a much broader appeal. That said, the product has been manufactured to be able to be worked on from either side. So, if you prefer that bright pop of colour, just flip it over and work on the reverse. It was more robust so would not only last longer but would be more cleanable. And importantly, because of those peeling properties it would be infinitely easier to work with than the Original with only the minimum of equipment and instruction.

We are now thrilled to be winning technical foam awards for this product, and better still to see so many happy customers getting creative in it’s use. This product designed for a shadow board has now become so much more!

Properties of Shadow Foam

Shadow Foam® is a closed cell and non-cross-linked Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE) foam. It is 100% LDPE and as such, is easily recycled. To achieve the required thickness, layers of material are laminated using heat and pressure. No adhesive is used anywhere in the lamination process or any other processes. The material is free of heavy metals, HCFC
and CFC’s. Should you require any additional information or a full MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) please get in touch.

material Low Density Polyethylene foam (LDPE)
PE Polyethylene 9002-88-4 ; 96-99%
Masterbatch Colour Pigment – %0-4
construction 100% LDPE
closed cell
non-cross linked
Density 20kg/m3 – 40kg/m3
Colours Black, Blue, Teal, Green, Yellow, Orange, Red
Depths 30mm, 50m, 70mm
Layers laminated layer depth at appx 10mm intervals
HCFC Hydrochlorofluorocarbon free and odorless
Recyclability 100% recyclable (where available)
ESD Anti static characteristics
UV UV resistance
Cleaning Easy to clean using soap and water or alcohol where required
Resistance Water and common chemical resistant
Hazard class Not considered hazardous according to EC directives
Regulatory It does not contain substances in the RoHS Directive 2015/863/EU
It does not contain substances in the SVHC list published by ECHA

Working with Shadow Foam for Shadow Boards

We know that people often successfully work with our product using laser cutting, CNC or machine cutting techniques. But please remember that this material was specifically designed not to have to be machined. To make it more cost-effective and accessible for people to use at home. So our recommended way of working with the product is by hand cutting. If you want to try other methods, please feel free. If doing so, you’re able to obtain samples of the product to allow you to try your own techniques. But we’ve developed our recommended ways of working after years of development and getting to know the product, and are always happy to share what we find works best. That’s why hand cutting is our only recommended way of working with the product.

As we show in many of our Youtube videos, it’s perfectly possible to achieve results every bit as good as machine cut shadow boards when doing it by hand. All we ask is that you take time to review our safety guidelines and advice on the best cutting and peeling techniques before getting started. We have heaps of resources available to help you when you’re shadowfoaming. We’ve spent years making mistakes and learning the best techniques so don’t have to! So please do take advantage and watch as much as you can before getting started.

If you need something of a different depth or shape.

Here at Shadow Foam we have just the three depths of foam – 30mm, 50mm and 70mm. But what if you need something deeper or more shallow…? Often, that’s no problem either.

Deeper – you can layer the foam to suit. Use a combination of our standard depths and use our Spray Adhesive to bond them together achieve the depth of foam you need. Take a look at how we have done this ourselves in the past here.

Shallower – bear in mind it’s better to not cut all the way through the foam when using it as a shadow board if you can help it. Keeping a base of around 10mm on the bottom helps give the foam strength and rigidity. So as long as the depth you need allows for that, you could try one of our techniques for removing some of the depth from the foam from the reverse? We did something similar here where we needed a 10mm depth insert for the lid of a toolbox.

We’re sorry to disappoint, but at the moment we can’t offer foam in other custom depths, shapes or colours that we don’t already stock. But if you are looking for a particular size and can’t see it on our website, please do feel free to get in touch and we’ll see if we can help. You can usually find inserts for your cases and toolboxes here. Standard sheets and packs here,. And you can get custom sized foam in anything up to 2m x 1m sizes here.

Last but not least, make sure you have everything you need to allow you to create your tool shadow board safely and accurately by taking a visit to our Extras store.

Happy shadowfoaming!


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