Have you ever wondered what sound absorption materials are used in acoustical sound absorption panels? There’s is a variety of materials that manufacturers use. But which ones work the best? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of several materials.
One of the methods than manufacturers use is fiberglass insulation. While fiberglass can do a fair job of absorbing sound, it will go flat over time putting it’s effectiveness in jeopardy. Fiberglass is fabricated with ingredients and machinery that can be harmful to your body in a variety of ways. Not only does fiberglass insulation use more energy to manufacture than other materials, but most traditional insulation contain formaldehyde and can put out dangerous gasses.
Another method of sound absorption used is foam. Many types of foam are used in sound panels. The key to absorbing sound waves is open cell (soft) foam. Polyurethane and melamine are the two most popular types of foam that are used to fabricate panels. The question has been raised by many consumers “How can I tell the difference between them?” That’s a very good question. The issue of whether manufacturers are using the foam that they say they are using has been raised many times. The thought that some manufacturers may buy economy foam and use it for a larger profit margin has been asked more than a few times.
Another issue with foam is the relatively short life span. From the moment that foam is manufactured, it begins an oxidation process in which white foam will turn yellow relatively quickly. It is common knowledge in the foam industry that this is the reason why most foam is now colored (usually dark gray.) It does not solve they problem of oxidation…it merely disguises it. After a relatively short time, foam goes flat and begins to disintegrate. A good example of this is most automobile headlining fabric in the 1980’s was laminated to foam. The headliner would “sag” when the foam disintegrated.
Mineral wool, also known as rock wool, is another Ceiling Rafts material used that is man made using fibers made from natural or synthetic materials including fiberglass, ceramic fibers and rock or stone wool. These ingredients can be absorbed into the body by inhalation. It can also irritate the eyes, skin and respiratory tract. Prolonged exposure could lead to serious health issues.
Cotton blend fiber is another method that has become increasingly popular over the last few years. The natural fibers used to manufacture cotton fiber are 100% recyclable. It requires minimal energy to produce and is Class-A fire rated. There are no chemicals that cause irritations and is not a health risk of any kind. The physical properties are also highly rated. Along with a Class-A fire rating, it is also corrosion, fungi, bacteria and moisture resistant and has a superb ability to absorb sound waves.
All of the previously mentioned materials will absorb excess sound waves. In general, some materials are good short term solutions while others are long term solutions. Some materials pose a health risk and others are environmentally and user friendly.