How Is Foam Made Into Mattresses?

There are many different types of foam around. Some are very soft to the touch, and others are super thick. You may not be able to help wondering about the process of making foam mattresses. We are here to satisfy your curiosity! In this article, we focus on how is foam made into furniture like mattresses.

Types of Sleeping Foam

how is foam made

While there are different types of foam for different purposes, we’re delving into the different types of sleeping foams, and what purpose they best serve. 

When it comes to mattresses, the three most common types of foam involved are latex foam, memory foam and polyurethane foam.

Polyurethane Foam

Polyurethane foam is used for surface coatings, building insulation, solid plastics and bed mattresses. 

Polyurethane foam is the type of foam used for many pieces of furniture and couch cushions. It is the least expensive but lowest quality foam used in making mattress toppers and mattresses. 

Most mattresses with short lifespans have some sort of polyurethane within, either as a top layer or as a base layer instead of spring coils.

These mattresses don’t last long because polyurethane foam is a low-density foam. That  means it’s hard for it to absorb pressure and will compress easily. 

This is not to say that you can’t find polyurethane foam with a high density that will be a bit more durable. However, when compared to other sleeping foams, polyurethane foam has the lowest density. 

While it provides some support and can be termed a flexible foam, it falls short of the standards of latex and memory foams for mattresses

Latex Foam

Latex foam is a lightweight foam made from latex that is very durable. Mattresses and mattress toppers made from latex tend to last longer than those made with polyurethane and memory foam and solely polyurethane foam. 

Latex is often the most preferred foam type for household use because of its high level of shock absorption and solid layers. 

This foam doesn’t form dents or sinkholes from long usage, and it doesn’t get softer with time.

Tests have proven that latex maintains constant pinpointed body weight support. This is a perfect foam option for side sleepers, as the pinpointed support allows for shoulder and hip areas to sink in comfortably without affecting other parts of the body.  

Memory Foam

Memory foam is also known as viscoelastic polyurethane or low-resistance foam. It is best known for its elasticity. This permits the foam to stretch and return back to size and for a slow transfer of energy from one place to the other. 

There are three main types of memory foam available in the market: traditional, open-cell and gel. 

Traditional memory foam is primarily designed to decrease joint stress and improve circulation. The only downside is that it retains heat. 

Open-cell foam is primarily designed to respond to body temperature without generating or retaining heat. 

Gel memory foam is the best choice for motion transfer and for reducing pressure points.

Memory foam varies in density, with higher density types being more durable and of higher quality. They are also quite easy to use and to clean.

So, How Is Foam Made?

Depending on the application method, the foam used to make mattresses is either made in big blocks or injected into a mold to solidify.

The selection of raw materials used to make foam depends on the type of foam. Polyfoam, latex foam and memory foam require the use of different petrochemical compounds.

Oil-based chemicals are added to the liquid raw materials, and they react together to convert into a solid state. Adjusting the chemical mix creates different grades of foam, each with its own unique properties.

After the solid foam pieces are formed, they are either cut from the foam blocks or removed from the mold. Using a foam block is a more cost-effective method to make lower quantities of foam pieces than using a mold.

The Process of Making Mattresses From Foam

1. Foam Block Removal

After foam blocks are solid, they can now be used to make different kinds of mattresses. There are forklifts specifically designed to bring the blocks out from their designated spots and to take them to the cutting machines.

2. Vertical Cutting

The first type of cutting in the process is vertical cutting. A vertical machine cuts the skin from the sides of the big blocks and splits them into smaller sections, depending on the size of the mattress to be made. 

3. Horizontal Slitter

After the vertical machine has cut the big foam block into smaller sizes, the foam is then taken to the horizontal machine. The horizontal machine slices the foam into smaller thicknesses.

The horizontal slitter can be automatically programmed to cut any grade of flexible polyurethane foam with a thickness ranging from 3/4 inches to 45 inches.

4. Pattern Cutting

At this point, you cut out the patterns for the shape and size of the foam on cardboard, depending on the type of mattress.

Skilled foam cutters outline the patterns on the foam and cut it to the exact shape of the cardboard pattern.  

5. Angle Cutting

If the mattress or pillow requires a wedge design, then the angle machines are used to cut wedges at angles ranging from 45 to 135 degrees. 

6. Contour Cutting

A contour cutter has a high-speed abrasive wire that cuts foam into different diameters, curves, and shapes. At this stage, the final form of the mattress or pillow begins to take shape.

A wooden template is placed on the board, and the machine follows the shape of the template to create an identical two-dimensional cut on the foam.

7. Fiber Cutting

To give the mattress or pillow a more rounded look, polyester fiber of different thicknesses can be cut and wrapped around the foam before they’re stuffed into the fabric covering. 

8. Fabrication

If the mattress or cushion requires the joining of different layers of foam, a safe water-based foam adhesive is used to glue them together.

9. Quilting of Covers

The cover casing that goes around the mattress is then quilted with foam and fiber. The quilted cover makes the mattress look and feel more comfortable.

Based on industry standards, the foams used to make the quilting covers are usually of a lighter grade than those used to make the mattress itself. 

10. Cover Sewing

Once the quilted covers are ready, the fabric is cut according to the size of the mattress. To prevent the edge of the cover from fraying and tearing, enough material is left at the edge to sew the seam shut.

If the mattress cover needs one, a zipper is also sewn into one end to easily slip the mattress in and out. However, if the mattress doesn’t require one, the sewn pieces are then stitched to completely close the mattress.

11. Mattress Closing

This is the final stage. The cover materials are sewn around the mattress with a mattress closer. 

Bottom Line

Converting foam from its raw state into the finished mattresses, cushions and pillows we buy from the market involves a raw, intensive process. Anything less than the industry standard will result in a mattress that is hard, lumpy and uncomfortable.

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