Sweet dreams: How polyurethane foam has contributed to the evolution of mattresses
Materials for the mattress of today
PU foam mattresses have undergone a complex process of transformation in terms of comfort, longevity and performance—and our raw materials have played a role. Today’s state-of-the-art mattress is made possible by several trendsetting developments over the years, one being the foam type. The shift from a single foam type to a variety with different densities was a key move, resulting in new and improved comfort, which can also be accomplished by cutting out channels for air circulation.
New foam types mean new possibilities. High-resilience (HR) foam brings great comfort and has helped create durable, mattresses. This foam also brings a new level of flexibility, allowing mattresses to be rolled (think: bed-in-a-box and vacuum-packed mattresses). Another type of foam, viscoelastic foams are used to improve pressure distribution while enhancing well-being, breathability and heat dissipation.
Improved functionality and comfort can also be attributed to technological changes in adhesive systems, which have shifted from solvent-borne to water-borne materials, such as our Dispercoll® C dispersions. Adhesives built on these dispersions drive improvements in environmental, handling and workplace safety - without compromising performance. Additionally, Dispercoll® U dispersions can be used as an adhesion technology to create a monomaterial mattress and enable debonding under specific conditions for better separation of different mattress components. This in turn can help inspire new ideas for how to bring about chemical recycling in the future.
Raw materials produced from biomass, especially biowaste and residual materials, are increasingly important. Through mass balancing, they maintain the same high quality as fossil-based counterparts without requiring customers to change their processing methods. Covestro collaborates with multiple suppliers certified to the internationally recognized ISCC PLUS standard for this approach.
One such initiative is Evocycle® CQ Mattress: Covestro, in partnership, has innovatively developed a technology for the chemolysis of polyurethane flexible foams from used mattresses. This process recovers both main components - the polyol and the precursor to the isocyanate TDI - enabling end-of-life mattress foams to be directly transformed back into renewed polyurethane building blocks.
“Our polyurethane expertise has helped drive developments in polyurethane foam mattresses. We’re continuing to push boundaries by looking into future possibilities for the mattresses of tomorrow.”
Innovating for the future of foam
You don’t have to wait for tomorrow to experience the mattress of the future. See how we’re pushing the boundaries of what’s possible for these applications—especially when it comes to airflow, foam performance after compression and longevity.
We envision new technologies, such as 3D printing or in-foam printing, bringing about exciting new possibilities for mattress production. New and improved properties will also be key, including PU-based solutions for re-rollable, temperature- and/or hardness-adjustable mattresses.
Mattresses will become a part of the digital transformation, so we’re looking at how we can support customized comfort through sleep tracking, sensors that adjust to one or two users, and artificial intelligence for a better night’s sleep. Additionally, we’re exploring digital services for increasing the efficiency of foam development and processing through algorithms.
Sustainability will continue to be an important theme as we explore how we can close the carbon loop through recycled raw materials and CO2-based or bio-based feedstocks for mattresses.
The future is promising. Let’s shape it together.
- Renewable-attributed materials help the industry achieve its climate targets.
- High-resilience foam provides comfort, longevity and durability.
- Viscoelastic foams enable pressure distribution.