Intros at Interzum Cologne prove more important than economy

Advancements in foam—and ripples created in other product categories by foam’s popularity—were center stage at the Interzum Cologne furniture components fair held May 13–16 in Cologne, Germany.

Exhibitors offered engineered foams in new colors, cuts, laminations and convolutions. In addition to fresh looks in latex, polyurethane and visco–elastic, there were innovations in multifunctional textiles and automated foam–cutting equipment.

Opinions about show attendance varied, but exhibitors BedTimes spoke with reported having at least one strong day with good foot traffic from new and existing customers. Fair organizers put attendance at more than 100,000, a “slight fall in visitor numbers” from the 2007 show. The ongoing difficult economic climate—though not discussed much in Interzum booths—did reduce the number of casual shoppers in halls. Some exhibitors said they preferred it that way because the customers they did meet were “serious” and “had an agenda.”

“We’ve noticed that traffic is lighter this year at the show, but we’ve still been quite busy and have definitely had better–than–expected results,” said Darren Gilmore, president of Hawthorne, N.J.–based adhesives supplier Simalfa.

Temperature is top-of-mind

With the growing use of foam across bedding constructions, regulating temperature has become a, dare we say, “hot” trend. Ticking manufacturers offered fabrics with phase–changing technologies, as well as an array of “spacer” materials. And foam suppliers touted the benefits of breathable engineered foams.

Kevin Stein, vice president of marketing, research and development at Latex International, which has U.S. headquarters in Shelton, Conn., said his company’s temperature–regulating Celsion foam, introduced in 2008, was “a big hit at this show—and not just with Western Europeans, but with visitors from the Far East and elsewhere.”
Latexco, based in Tielt, Belgium, demonstrated new ways to ventilate latex cores—with extra–large vertical channels and horizontal side venting and channeling.

“The latest and greatest is this cylindrical, pocketed–spring look that reduces motion transfer and increases air flow,” said Vincent Gesquiere, Latexco executive vice president. “In Europe they call it ‘yogurt cups.’ In the U.S. it’s ‘Dixie cups’. ”

Eurofoam, based in Kremsmünster, Austria, introduced Cellpur, a “cellulose climatized foam” that incorporates powdered Tencel. It’s a joint venture with Tencel manufacturer Lenzing AG. The new polyurethane foam is more breathable and absorbs and releases moisture to create a “more pleasant sleep environment,” the company said in a news release.

Shown tucked inside the foam core, Manifattura Maiano S.p.A., based in Capalle, Italy, offered Ondafelt, a wavy, rigid support layer for all–foam beds made from kenaf, a plant fiber similar to jute. The product adds support and breathability to foam beds, the company said.

More innovations

Paris–based Sapsa Latex introduced Net–in Latex, a Dunlop–process latex core embedded with a layer of webbing that adds firmness and support. It’s for use in medium to extra–firm mattresses. Sapsa’s X–trem Latex also is new and has an extra–soft “cocooning and Talalay–like feel,” said Raluca Loury, who is in charge of international marketing and sales support for the company.

Gommagomma S.p.A., headquartered in Caronno, Pertusella, Italy, introduced Exchange, a line of Dunlop–process latex mattress and pillow cores, or “vessels,” that hold a visco–elastic or latex comfort layer.

Similarly, Latexco offered cores poured with a surface cutout in its new Adaptive Range. Manufacturers can choose their top layer. The company also introduced a number of toppers and quilting layers, including the Progressive Resistance Topper, a single topper with three layers of different densities.

Fiber company Molina, based in Cairate, Italy, added silver, not just to its natural and synthetic fill fibers, but to a collection of foam silver–flecked pillows and toppers, as well. The X–static Silver collection is anti–bacterial, anti–odor and anti–static, the company said.

Multitalented ticking

Suppliers of mattress fabrics offered a range of special finishes, treatments and decorative tapes, as well as new knit and weave effects.

One of the more unusual introductions was Bekaert’s Purotex, an Interzum award winner for intelligent material and design. The fabric is embedded with “food–grade, microencapsulated probiotic bacteria” that are a “natural and active bed cleanser and deodorizer,” said Philip Ghekiere, marketing manager of the Waregem, Belgium–based textile manufacturer.

Ticking suppliers said there is a growing trend to merchandise the mattress and foundation as a color–coordinated upholstery item—a distinctly European look that is spreading to other regions. Several companies are providing fabrics designed to coordinate with contemporary, upholstered bed bases.

Innofa introduced four fabric collections, all with a “dressing” theme—from the clothes of the fashion runway to the aesthetics of the natural world. One knit, Airflow—part of a three–dimensional grouping designed to offer “excellent ventilation”—was as thick as a down–filled comforter.

“These are high–volume textiles weighing up to 1,000 grams per square meter and are constructed so that the yarns allow air to circulate,” said Nicole Grottendieck, a designer at the Tilburg, Holland–based knit supplier.

“High–loft knit techniques are very big for 2009 and 2010,” said Kristel Bisschop, sales director for knitting at Monks International, a ticking supplier headquartered in Wielsbeke, Belgium. “These fabrics add texture, color and an extra layer of comfort to a bed.”

CT Nassau, which is based in Alamance, N.C., showed a knit ticking with a puffed, “popcorn” surface that replaces the comfort layer on a mattress and requires no quilting.
“If you quilt, you lose the stretch,” said Laura Allred, design director at the tape and ticking manufacturer. “It’s a circular double–knit with elastic yarns knitted in and when the tension is released it puckers and gathers.”

Both Innofa and DesleeClama showed zoned mattress fabrics—knits with extra elasticity in specific areas to complement zoned mattress cores. Innofa’s Zone Stretch provides extra “give” in the shoulder and knee areas. DesleeClama, which is based in Beselare, Belgium, presented Body Fit.

“We work jointly with customers to adapt the ticking to the bed’s core and use different knit effects to produce a customized fabric with varying elasticity,” said Kris Verbeeck, DesleeClama marketing manager.

Giving mattress producers the flexibility to customize fabrics in terms of color and design was a popular selling point at exhibitor booths.

“When it comes to fabric design, we’re flexible,” said Paolo Stellini, managing director of Stellini, a Magnago, Italy–based ticking producer. “Customers can create their own patterns on software. There is nothing better than designing with customers. In seconds you can go from their design on the screen to the loom. The yarns are loaded and you’re ready to go.”

High–loft materials and computer–aided design may represent the high–tech end of what ticking suppliers are offering, but there also is demand for products perceived as more natural.

DesleeClama won a Best of the Best Interzum award for its EcoFair ticking made from organic cotton that is “100% ecologically cultivated and purchased according to fair–trade principles,” Verbeeck said. “EcoFair is available as a knit or woven and has an unusually soft hand—something you don’t always see with organic cotton.”

Boyteks Tekstil, based in Kayseri, Turkey, offers 17 natural fiber collections, including organic cotton, Tencel, mohair, bamboo, linen, wool, coconut fiber, cashmere and camel hair, among others, said Önder Honi, Boyteks deputy general director of sales and marketing.

“There is much more interest now in bamboo and cotton and viscose—people are looking for all cellulosic fibers, even some linen fibers in a viscose/linen blend,” said CT Nassau’s Allred.

At some fabric suppliers’ booths, it was hard to tell a woven from a knit. By incorporating Lycra yarns, ticking producers are creating high–end jacquards with some of the characteristics of stretch knits.

“Everybody adopted knits and now that everyone has them, the only way to be different is to go back to jacquards,” Stellini said.

Bekaert’s woven Elastesse has a head–to–toe stretch and provides “the benefits of a knit but with no snagging, easier handling and the interesting visual effects you can only get with wovens,” Ghekiere said.

Finally, ticking suppliers say color continues to make a bit of a comeback.
“Manufacturers are going from using a dash to the realization that ‘We can do this. We can add more color and make our mattresses stand out in a crowd,’ ” Monks’ Bisschop said.

At Anton Cramer & Co., based in Greven, Germany, shades of lilac, rose and gold headlined, as did ornate three–dimensional knits employing two surface yarns.

Spacer fabrics: ‘Cool’ look

Mattress makers looking for spacer fabrics, which add breathability, could find them almost anywhere at Interzum.

Felt, fiber and visco–elastic foam manufacturer Ovattificio Fortunato, headquartered in Bellizzi, Italy, matched a spacer fabric topper with breathable visco–elastic foam cores in its Mistral collection. The company cleverly demonstrated Mistral’s ventilation—with the flip of a switch a bed emitted steam across its top panel, thanks to a steam machine beneath the bed.

Latexco showed its new Adaptive Range cores with a number of topper choices, which included a spacer fabric. And mattress cover maker Funcotex in Torrente, Spain, said one of its most popular sellers incorporates spacer fabric into side panels.

Pocket springs manufacturer Agro International GmbH & Co. KG, based in Bad Essen, Germany, introduced the Advanced Green Body, a seven–zone, pocketed innerspring unit with a 1–inch spacer fabric affixed to the top.

Bodet & Horst, headquartered in Elterlein, Germany, featured a spacer fabric side panel for added ventilation when displaying a mattress with its Ultrasound fabric. Ultrasound was an Interzum award winner for high product quality. The channel–filled and ultrasonically bonded and perforated ticking adds cushioning and breathability to the mattress, the company said.

Sewn covers zip up market share

Sales of zippered covers “went crazy this year,” said Ekmel Öztoprak of knits maker Evoteks in Istanbul, Turkey. “It started about two years ago and has to do with the nature of working with knits. Mattress manufacturers find them less stable and harder to tailor.

This way you use fewer plant workers and less machinery. It’s more convenient and affordable.”

Funcotex made a bold fashion statement with its zippered mattress covers that combined contrasting colors, patterns and textures with color–blocked, dual–zippered side panels. The manufacturer says the zippered covers work with both foam and innerspring beds.

Springs news

Agro cited a recent study of its products showing that pocketed springs alone—without added comfort layers—can achieve optimum pressure relief. Show attendees could test several mattresses constructed from a zoned, pocketed innerspring core covered only with a zippered stretch knit.

Diamond Spring, based in Zele, Belgium, introduced the latest version of its all–foam “innerspring”—the patented Octaspring. Each Octaspring has eight columns of support and is available in a range of foam densities and three heights. A typical
all–Octaspring mattress might have three layers of Octasprings in varying densities.

Starsprings, headquartered in Herrjunga, Sweden, supplies both high–end Hästens and value merchant Ikea. It promoted the durability and pressure relief of springs when used in the top comfort layers of the mattress.

Showing that temperature regulation is not just a concern when it comes to foam, Starsprings also showcased its new ClimaBed Topper.

“ClimaBed is a ventilated topper that controls temperature and moisture through an exhaust system that also filters the air and removes dust mites,” said Ken Hurst, Starsprings’ U.S. sales representative. “It reads and adjusts your bed temperature.”

Machinery makers sell speed

Machinery introductions focused on speed, automation and better material flow. But, as was perhaps expected with the challenging economy, exhibitors reported that order taking for machinery was slow.

A bright spot for suppliers is the growing interest in mattress recycling, said Yosuke Takeuchi, general manager of Osaka, Japan–based Matsushita Industrial Co. Ltd., a machinery manufacturer.

“Everyone is so aware of the environment that efforts at mattress recycling are escalating, especially in Europe and Japan, where trash disposal costs are so high,” Takeuchi said. “I predict the next generation of mattress machinery will not be about making coils, but about taking them apart and recycling them.”

Rick Hungerford Jr., president of Grand Rapids, Mich.–based Edge–Sweets Co. (ESCO), which specializes in polyurethane foam processing equipment, pointed to another trend.
“Automation is the big news in the industry,” he said. “It allows customers to remain competitive by reducing operating costs.”

Machinery and components supplier Amelco Industries Ltd., with headquarters in Nicosia, Cyprus, showcased its updated RL 2000A Rollpack machine for innersprings. The company said the unit offers improved productivity because of its automatic feeding and strapping features and a roller vacuum system that holds packing paper in place.

Randy Metcalf, marketing manager for Carthage, Mo.–based Leggett & Platt’s Global Systems Group, said the improved multineedle, chain–stitch Gribetz Paragon M+ mattress quilter is “faster than previous models, easier to operate and maintain, handles extra– thick quilts up to 155 centimeters and faster tack and jump with no tails.”

The new ProSlit is a highly automated, faster version of Gribetz’s BSAP Border Slitter, according to the company. Features include programmable, automatic blade adjustments and built–in sharpening stones.

Sotexi, a Paris–based maker of conveyor, packaging, springs, quilting and border equipment, highlighted an updated L2000–2R multineedle, lock–stitch quilting machine, which now takes three times the thread.

“The L2000–2R is very fast at up to 2,000 stitches per minute and machine settings are flexible and simple to adjust,” said Georges Campin, Sotexi president. “It allows for sideways needle adjustment easily and at will, as well as easy adjustment between needle rows.”

Masias, a maker of fiber processing and quilting machines that has headquarters in Girona, Spain, offered automated wadding handling with its new direct–feed system.

“The unit is compatible with various kinds of quilting machines and saves time, reduces storage needs and improves product quality,” said Sonia Ortiz, Masias area sales manager.

Pocketed springs production

With demand building for pocketed springs around the globe, competition among pocketed spring machinery makers is heating up and prices are dropping, some in the industry said.

“In the Middle East, mattress makers are heavily advertising pocket springs,” said Andreas Georgallis, Amelco financial director. “I won’t be surprised to see pocket springs grow from 13% of the market—they were less than 5% five years ago—to as much as 50% in the coming years.”

Matsushita unveiled the TECMIC PKTA–3R–UC, a high–speed pocketed spring assembling machine with touch–screen programming.

“The machine is twice as fast as our older model and will produce all the springs for a twin assembly in 1.86 minutes,” Takeuchi said.

Spühl AG in Wittenbach, Switzerland, a wire–forming machinery company owned by L&P, introduced the CS–525 Dual, an electronically controlled transfer machine that boasts a performance increase of as much as 20%. The machine, which won an Interzum award for intelligent material and design, fabricates zoned spring units with two different wire gauges.

New foam cutters plentiful

Italian Cutting Systems Srl in Gravina, Italy, introduced the Giotto Super Cutting System, which is capable of cutting a perfect circle. Fecken–Kirfel GmbH, based in Aachen, Germany, offered the updated CF 67, combining horizontal and vertical contour cutting centers.

“We’ve been focused on putting machines in combination and automating them,” said Michael Anders, vice president of Fecken–Kirfel America. “You reduce your need for a series of operators and have better material flow control. This trend is about helping customers compete with China’s low labor costs.”

Albrecht Baumer, a maker of foam and fiber cutting machinery based in Freudenberg, Germany, said it also focuses on assisting customers with line customization and automation. It offers a choice between its customizable, automated Blue Line and its standardized, less costly Red Line.

New to the Blue Line was the OFS–H Twincut, a CNC–controlled, high–speed machine that cuts foam on three axes, performing the work of two foam cutting machines.

 

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