Back to The Article Library
What Is A Memory Foam Mattress?
By Heather Colman
Memory Foam is made with a polyurethane material.
In order to increase its density, other chemicals are added which increases
its viscosity level. The combination of the chemicals used determines
the visco-elastic nature of the polyurethane foam and depending on such
combination, the foam has the characteristic of being firmer in cooler
temperature and softer in warmer environments. Higher density Memory Foam
reacts with body heat. It reacts so that within a few minutes the product
forms around the shape of the body. The property of the polyurethane foam
could be demonstrated by pressing one's hand on the foam and then on removing
it. The foam retains a clear impression of the hand.
In 1970s, NASA developed Memory Foam for use in their space program. With
the hope that with the ability of uniform distribution of pressure of
such foam, the extreme G-force phenomenon would be taken care of. Ironically,
the material was never used in any space program. In the 1990s, the product
came onto the commercial market in the form of topper pads and then as
A medical company, Tempur-Pedic, first realized the potential commercial
application of the foam. They researched the various versions of the foam
and came out with a product that they called "Tempur". This Tempur was
durable and had the property of pressure reduction.
When Memory foam first came out in the market, it was known as T-foam.
It released chemical gasses making it unhealthy to be used in a closed
environment. Over the years, this odor was reduced but could not be gotten
rid of. The initial T-foam promised a great product as a bed topper or
wheel chair cushion material. But it was noticed that it had issues with
wear over a relatively short time. This early version of the foam was
not found to be durable and would often crack and remain compressed after
Memory Foam has shown excellent characteristics in responding to changes
in temperature and its ability to reduce pressure by spreading the weight
evenly over a larger surface area. Consequently, the foam also found an
application in medical treatments of patients by preventing so called
"bed sores" that a patient can develop when bed-ridden. In other medical
applications, the foam is used in wheelchair seat cushions, pillows or
padding for people suffering long- term pain from postural problems. For
the heat retaining properties of the foam, it makes pain more bearable
for a patient suffering from back injuries.
Memory foam is generally denser, making it heavier than other foams. Because
it is heavier, the foam remains more supportive and comfortable. A new
Memory Foam mattress has a chemical odor that is unpleasant to some people.
Although airing does take most of this odor away, certain people remain
sensitive to the smell.
Presently Memory Foam is used in many commercial products such as mattress
toppers, mattresses and pillows, positional sleep aids, office furniture,
automobile seat padding, footwear, infant cribs, car seats, wheel chair
cushions, computer carrying cases, tennis racquet handles and more.
Back to The Article Library