A Quick Memory Foam History Lesson
Memory foam is everywhere. Major brands and the influx of internet-based foam mattress companies have really made noise in the industry, toting their technologically advanced foam over traditional box spring mattresses. But what exactly is memory foam and where did it come from? Here’s a little memory foam history for you.[separator size =”20″]
You might be shocked to learn that memory foam has actually been around since the 60’s, first developed under a NASA contract to provide safer, more comfortable cushions for use in space. It’s made up of a polyurethane base with specialized chemicals that help increase its viscosity ( that means its semi-fluid consistency) and density. It provided support yet shifted with the body, relieving pressure points, but could spring back to its original form. It’s also heat sensitive, compressing and softening from body heat, and regains firmness when it cools.[separator size =”20″]
After successful implementation at NASA, the material was first commercialized for use in medical and sports equipment, such as x-ray tables and football helmets. In the early 80’s, the technology was released to the public domain, but wasn’t fully developed for consumer goods until 1991 when the Tempur-Pedic Swedish mattress was born. It wasn’t perfect though; while customers loved the feel of the mattress, they complained that it was too hot, a direct result of the inherent properties of memory foam. Over the years, advancements have been made to address this issue, with many memory foam mattresses now having a more open-cell structure, or incorporating other technologies like heat-dissipating fabrics and proprietary cooling gels (like SensorGEL does).[separator size =”20″]
As the technology has developed, it’s become more cost-effective for companies to use in consumer products, and in turn less expensive for the end user. Also, lower costs means lower barriers to entry, allowing more companies to enter the fray and compete with established brands, both memory foam and traditional mattress companies.[separator size =”20″]
Now, memory foam has become almost ubiquitous and can be found in a wide array of household items beyond just mattresses, including everything from pillows to toppers to shoes to bath mats; and to think, this material was invented for use by astronauts in space. Think of that the next time you snuggle up in bed in your memory foam slippers, and enlighten someone with a little memory foam history.