With so many products being made from memory foam ranging from home-use mattresses, toppers and pillows to bike seats or hospital beds, you may wonder how is memory foam made. In order to understand this, it is important to get to know what memory foam is.
Memory foam is viscoelastic polyurethane foam with both traits of being elastic and viscous. It is made from polyurethane mixed with other chemicals to add more density and viscosity. When a part of the body or even the entire body is placed on memory foam, the foam takes the shape of the part placed on it. Due to its elastic traits however, it is able to regain its initial shape shortly after the part is removed.
Origin of foam
The roots of memory foam can be traced to NASA inventions in 1960s. The aim of venturing into polyurethane was to make comfortable chairs for use in space ships. Astronauts were at the time faced with the challenge of too much extensive pressure on their bodies when their space ships landed. Memory foam was able to distribute pressure equally and reduce the impact of the landing force.
This never came to be implemented for reasons best known to NASA. However, the benefits of this invention could not be overlooked and within a few years, it was applied in making sporting and medical equipment. Later on, it was used in making mattresses and many other diversified products.
In recent times, different types of memory foam have been developed to make it affordable and its uses have become even more diversified. It is now manufactured in many industries dealing with a wide range of products.
How is memory foam made?
This is a rather complex process involving the use of several chemicals with the mainstay being polyurethane. The details of the process may differ from one manufacturer to the other. The basics however are the same and this is what this excerpt will dwell on.
The first step involves the mixing of three materials; polyols, isocyanates and reacting agents. The polyols are alcohols obtained from petroleum products or plant oils while the isocyanates refer to an organic amine-derived compound. The reacting agents will differ depending on the intended use of the memory foam being made. Those for making a mattress will be very different from those to be used to make car parts.
The mixture is then whipped causing an exothermic reaction to occur which releases heat causing the mixture to form bubbles and give rise to foam. This mixture is placed in a mold to shape it. Gas or other blowing agents are then used to create an open-cell matrix. The amount of air incorporated determines the density of the resulting memory foam.
The bun of memory foam is then cooled and heated again. After this it is left to cure for several hours. This curing process ensures that the foam is no longer reactive. It is then washed and dried to remove any residues and its quality determined. This marks the end of production after which it can be used to make whatever it was intended for.
To sum it up. How memory foam is made? is basically the same regardless of the intended uses. All that needs to be differed is the reacting agents and the density by varying the amount of gas that is allowed when making the open-cell structure.