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How the Memory Foam Mattress Saved the World


The History of the Memory Foam Mattress

NASA developed memory foam back in the 1970's. The intended use for the developed foam was as a shock absorber for the space shuttles. The g-forces acting on the bodies of astronauts during take off was tremendous. With this memory foam, hopes were high that it would be able to cushion and absorb the shocks that the shuttle crew endure. Unfortunately, the first generation of memory foam was brittle and had a lifespan of two years, which forced NASA to abandon the project.

The reason why NASA was impressed with the foam was because it conformed to the shape of the pressure placed onto it. Pressing a hand onto a slab of the foam would cause an imprint of the hand to be embedded into the foam. After a short time, the imprint would slowly fade as the foam stretches back to its original shape. This behavior is similar to that of a rubber band.

When NASA abandoned the memory foam project, a Swedish research partner firm continued with the development of the memory foam. Memory foam is a polyurethane or plastic compound. What NASA failed to do in terms of improving elasticity, flexibility and lifespan, the Swedish firm accomplished by continuous research and development.

After ten years of research, they produced a gel-like plastic that has composite open cells. These configured cells gave the memory foam the ability to conform its shape to that of a pressure shape. This was accomplished by a redistribution of air contained inside the cells of the memory foam to allow it to conform to the pressure shape. As the pressure is removed, the foam has the ability to expand back into its original foam.

With this discovery, the Swedish firm formed Tempur Pedic. At the start, Tempur Pedic marketed the memory foam exclusively to hospitals as alternative material for mattress pads. Patients who benefited from these mattress pads made of memory foam reported a marked decrease in bed sore incidents. Back support was also significantly improved as well as the reduction of pressure on joints.

Because of its success in the medical world, Tempur Pedic assumed correctly that the general public would also want to benefit from using memory foam. In the early 1990's, Tempur Pedic began selling memory foam mattresses commercially. At first, the prices of memory mattress foams were prohibitive since only one company was producing. However, price levels started to decline when other manufacturers started to produce memory foam products.

Today, memory foam produced for many other applications. Aside from the mattress, pillows and other bed accessories were developed using memory foam. When all avenues for the bed had been exhausted, memory foam utilization broadened to footwear, furniture, padding for car seats, wheel chair cushions, the foam in sweatpants, computer carrying cases, tennis racquet handles, stress balls and a whole lot more.




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