Memory foam advances give firm support to growing mattress industry

July 19, 2017, American Chemical Society

The way we sleep started to change in 1992 with the commercial release of memory foam—a product originally developed at NASA. A decade later, the product became more accessible when the first compressed mattress sold in a box debuted. Today, the polyurethane mattress industry continues to innovate and grow thanks to new chemistry, as reported in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society.

C&EN Assistant Managing Editor Michael McCoy explains how developments in foam bedding have unfolded to revolutionize how we get our z's. Unlike normal elastic polyurethane which bounces to return to its original shape, viscoelastic memory foam recovers slowly and has little spring, making it a more supportive sleep surface. Producing it on an industrial scale was the first step toward bringing memory foam mattresses to the market. In the years since, manufacturers have opened up the material's cell structure, altered the chemical composition of the polyurethane, and introduced additives to improve comfort and draw heat away from sleeping bodies.

Today, about one-third of mattresses sold in the U.S. are made partially or entirely from memory foam. "Beds-in-a-box"—made of compressed and shipped directly to the consumer to be unfurled and slept on that evening—now account for around 13 percent of the mattress market. Many makers of these easy-to-deliver products are only a few years old, and new companies and entrepreneurs continue to enter the increasingly crowded field. The industry has come a long way in the past 25 , and with new chemistry, it is looking to expand even further.

Explore further: Scientists tweak seat cushion material to clean oil spills

More information: To sleep, perchance on foam, … -perchance-foam.html

Related Stories

Turning car plastics into foams with coconut oil

June 7, 2017

End-of-life vehicles, with their plastic, metal and rubber components, are responsible for millions of tons of waste around the world each year. Now, one team reports in ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering that the plastic ...

Recommended for you

After a reset, Сuriosity is operating normally

February 23, 2019

NASA's Curiosity rover is busy making new discoveries on Mars. The rover has been climbing Mount Sharp since 2014 and recently reached a clay region that may offer new clues about the ancient Martian environment's potential ...

Study: With Twitter, race of the messenger matters

February 23, 2019

When NFL player Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice, the ensuing debate took traditional and social media by storm. University of Kansas researchers have ...

Researchers engineer a tougher fiber

February 22, 2019

North Carolina State University researchers have developed a fiber that combines the elasticity of rubber with the strength of a metal, resulting in a tougher material that could be incorporated into soft robotics, packaging ...

A quantum magnet with a topological twist

February 22, 2019

Taking their name from an intricate Japanese basket pattern, kagome magnets are thought to have electronic properties that could be valuable for future quantum devices and applications. Theories predict that some electrons ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.