Custom Case Foam

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by mdemeyer, Feb 5, 2007.

  1. mdemeyer

    mdemeyer Active Member

    I recently tried out a company that makes custom foam inserts for cases (Pelican, Hasselblad, etc.). Thought this would be of interest to those on this forum who, like me, are tired of cutting poorly-fitting foam to hold your mics in your road cases.

    Here's a photo of the first one I had made by them, a Pelican 1500 customized to hold a pair of Schoeps M222's tube mics.

    (Dead Link Removed)

    I probably should shoot another photo with the contents removed so you can see how nice the work is. This one is actually pretty complex. For example, under the 2" deep cut-outs for the power supplies are additional cut-outs to hold 6 more capsules.

    The foam is high-quality, closed cell PE with a very soft finish. The cutting is done on a CNC machine based on files you create with a simple (downloaded) CAD program. You can make pockets in 1" depth increments, and they can be pretty complicated.

    What's the bad news... the cost, of course. This insert, because I went a little overboard on the number of pockets, was about $150 with shipping. If I took some time to combine them (there is a per-pocket charge), I probably could have reduced it by $20.

    Was it worth it? For me, for this gear, yes. :cool:

    Your milage may vary, but if you want to pamper your gear and be able to pack a lot into a safe case, it's worth a look. http://

    And no, they didn't pay me to write this. :D


    PS. One other thing... if you get one, make sure to bang or vacuum out the little bit of cutting foam 'dust' that is left after the milling process.
  2. pr0gr4m

    pr0gr4m Well-Known Member

    That is very nice looking. I did something similar on the cheap. I needed a case for my portable MiniDisc recorder. They offer a foam that is perferated so that you can customize it yourself when you get the case. I think it's perferated into 1/4" or 1/2" squares and you just pick out in the areas where you want to put your equipment.

    It works great for that, but if I needed to transport some expensive gear, then I'd have to go with the custom cuts.
  3. mdemeyer

    mdemeyer Active Member

    Yes, I've done plenty of 'pick and pluck' foam in my days - which is the standard foam in the Pelican cases. I feel it's OK for larger items, but I find that type of foam (usually fairly low-density Polyurethane) to be both too soft and too imprecise for holding smaller or odd-shaped items. For example, in this case the sections that hold the ends of the power supplies in place are fairly small (to accomodate the switches, knobs, and jacks). These would not be possible or strong enough with the standard pick-and-pluck foam.

    Or maybe I'm just too fussy... :wink:

  4. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Not to mention, pick and pluck foam falls apart easily and those little bits of foam find their way onto your mic diaphragms......$200 per cleaning...yikes.

    What I do for my molded stuff is go to Joann fabrics, buy some couch foam and some fabric. I heat a wire (using an old/pos soldering iron) and use it to cut through the foam. (when hot, the wire slices through like butter!) If you're not steady handed, it doesn't hurt to use a jig.

    Then, I adhere the fabric to the foam so that the mics and equipment never come into contact with the foam.

    The whole thing will set you back around $20 or so (provided you already have the crappy soldering iron, a piece of picture hanging wire and some spray adhesive.)

  5. hughesmr

    hughesmr Guest

    Looks nice! Can you tell me if that foam is as dense as the blue stuff that ships with Schoeps factory boxes?
  6. mdemeyer

    mdemeyer Active Member


    Very close, but the Schoeps blue foam (also closed-cell PE, I think) might be a little more dense. But very close.

  7. hughesmr

    hughesmr Guest

    Thanks. I have 4 CMC6's and 2 matched prs of Schoeps caps, and I always thought it would be nice to reoutfit one of their US stereo set wooden boxes to carry all of them. I was always leary of pick-n-pluck foam, so it looks like this might be the ticket.
  8. mdemeyer

    mdemeyer Active Member


    My concerns with this approach are:

    1. Cushion foam is generally polyurethane of variable quality with regard to outgassing of the blowing chemicals. (In my youth I cut those cushions in a fabric store and you could smell the chemicals in the foam for many years.) Of course, you might get lucky, but you also might end up with a case of chemical fumes that can do bad things to delicate equipment - like microphone diaphrams. This is why medical equipment applications generally use polyethelyne foam blown with inert gas.

    2. Using spray adhesive to attach the fabric to the foam is another potential source of chemical fumes, although I suspect that a few days of airing out would take care of that one. I suspect if you can't smell it anymore, it's probably OK.

    But for these reasons low-grade cushion foam doesn't seem like an ideal choice for expensive gear to me... I'd still rather some medical grade PE foam, even if I was going to cut it by hand.

  9. MasonMedia

    MasonMedia Guest


    Thanks for the link to this resource. Nice to know this service is available.

    The last time I cut foam was for a Haliburton case many years ago. The only thing I had at the time that worked was an electric carving knife. Now that dates me. I've not see one of those in years.
  10. d_fu

    d_fu Guest

    Just what I was looking for... Alas, they don't seem to ship outside the US :? :(
    Anyone know of a similar service in Europe?

  11. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Hey Michael -

    Just thought I'd let you know...
    Based on your hearty recommendation of the company and a little bit of reading, I've just ordered a custom case insert for my new pelican case.

    Mine was also expensive due to crazy amounts of cuts (just under $190), but for me to do that kind of work with other foam would have taken me days!

    Once it comes in, I'll take a pic and post it as well.

    Cheers -

  12. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member


    I can see myself using their services sometime soon...

    I know there are cheaper methods, but I take pride in my equipment, and that includes my packing cases and so on. Nothing looks worse than an engineer showing up for a recording and pulling a bunch of loosely-packed but nice mics out of a tatty old carry bag or doctor's case, disentangling them from the leads along the way. Such pathetic displays should be left to electric guitarists rummaging through their bag for the one lead that "...worked last night and shouldn't cause any problems today; I think it was... this one!"

    If I'm going to spend the money on a Pelican case, then I'm already thinking seriously. An extra hundred or two on the foam insert is worth it to me; compared to what the gear I'm protecting is worth, it's peanuts. The combination will give me a packaging method that is not only watertight but also custom-sized to my equipment.


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