BY BARBARA T. NELLES
BedTimes traveled to the biennial trade fair Interzum Cologne held May 25–28 in Cologne, Germany, and saw exhibitors there doing their best to problem–solve mattress design and manufacturing issues, while at the same time finding new ways to help mattress makers engage and attract consumers. Being “green” continues to be an important focus, with growing talk of “cradle–to–cradle” sustainability.
Among mattress industry offerings, we singled out three significant product trends—ventilation, simplification and beautification.
Interzum Cologne organizers reported high attendance at the highly international show—more than 52,400 visitors from 147 countries attended (up 13% from 2009) and 1,434 suppliers from 61 countries exhibited.
In addition to strong traffic from Europe and the Middle East, exhibitors reported seeing more visitors from North and South America, Australia and Asia than at the 2009 show.
Andreas Georgallis, financial director of Amelco Industries Ltd., a machinery maker headquartered in Nicosia, Cyprus, assessed the show this way: “Traffic is good. We’re having an excellent show.”
His comments were echoed by many.
“We had good quality visits and more participation from U.S. customers on Wednesday alone than we had at the entire 2009 show,” said Russ Bowman, president of machinery maker Global Systems Group, a division of Carthage, Mo.–based Leggett & Platt.
“This is a fantastic show—way beyond our expectations,” said Declan Reilly, international sales manager for Dublin–based foam and bedding producer Kaymed. “We’ve gotten interest from so many countries around the world—South America, Asia, Australia.”
Job No. 1 among many mattress industry suppliers was finding ways to improve air flow, particularly in foam mattresses. A number of innovations incorporate phase change material, as well as other means, to bring temperature regulation to mattresses. Phase change materials store and release heat with changes in temperature.
Their first bedding application was in ticking and now they are making their way into other products. Latex International in Shelton, Conn., was a pioneer in incorporating phase change material during the foam vulcanization process and was issued a U.S. patent for its Celsion latex in September 2010.
Amerigon introduced the thermo–electronic Climate Control Sleep System for mattresses to a global audience. In 2010, the Northfield, Mich.–based company partnered with retail chain Mattress Firm to create the climate–controlled YüMë bed, which is sold exclusively at that sleep shop chain in the United States. It has adapted its automotive technology for heating and cooling car seats to the bedding industry.
Fiber producer Enkev, based in Volendam, Netherlands, added a lofty, breathable synthetic fiber to its lineup of natural fiber pads. Resilient Labyrinth is a springy, gel–like fiber available in a variety of thicknesses. It’s made from 100% recyclable, low–density polyethylene plastic.
“The product was developed in response to customer demand for a clean, fully recyclable product,” said Marc Doktor, Enkev commercial director. “In Europe, many types of fibers are widely used and accepted and, in the U.S., fiber gives mattress makers the opportunity to differentiate themselves.”
The Vita Group, headquartered in Maastricht, Netherlands, added breathable Intuition Talalay latex to its offerings. It’s available for sale to non–U.S. mattress makers. The product’s open–cell structure is coupled with phase change material.
“Intuition is meant not just to cool you down—it’s about temperature regulation,” said Cees Zielman, Vita Group general manager. “The phase change material is incorporated into the latex itself, providing thermal energy storage and increased temperature stability.”
Latexco featured Theta Comfort, which has a topical coating of “phase change microcapsules” that ensure that the sleeper is neither too warm nor too cold, according to the Tielt, Belgium–based company. Latexco also rolled out Oxygel, a latex coated with a bright green breathable, pressure–relieving gel.
Some polyurethane foam producers spoke of moving beyond traditional memory foam, touting highly breathable foam formulations designed for both the bed’s core and its top comfort layers.
Gommagomma, a foam producer in Caronno Pertusella, Italy, said its customers were impressed with WaterGel, a new open–cell foam. Unlike other polyurethane foam gels, WaterGel has no “skin” and is therefore far more breathable, according to the company.
Textile suppliers touted breathable fabrics that incorporate natural yarns and unique knitting techniques.
Ateja, a fabric supplier based in Bandung, Indonesia, offered the new Zentouch collection, which blends natural yarns, as well as carbon fiber, to create a cooler, anti–static sleep surface. Its new Flexsil fabrics also incorporate anti–bacterial silver–imbued yarns.
Ticking producer Boyteks, which has headquarters in Kayseri, Turkey, focused on several collections grouped together as “exclusive concepts.” Most are engineered for temperature control and breathability. In addition, the textile maker showcased its Quantech collection, which the company says “energizes sleepers.”
Innofa’s Airvent fabric earned notice from show organizers, wining an Interzum award. The unique fabric from the Tilburg, Netherlands–based knit producer has four–way stretch and knit patterns featuring “air grids” that act as portholes for the mattress foam core, allowing it to breathe.
Faster, easier production
Behind closed doors on the show floor, GSG walked mattress makers down a memory lane of mattress quilting. At the end stood its new Gribetz International V16, which the company calls “the world’s fastest quilter.” The machine was engineered to remove some of the complexity of its Paragon M+ series quilters.
“The V16 is designed to be a staple of lean manufacturing, giving you 20% to 40% more yield,” GSG’s Bowman said. “Engineers eliminated over 250 parts, enabling the V16 to operate at a true 1,600 rpm in tack–and–jump mode all day. It has an arrangement of 16 fixed needles in the industry’s most popular needle setting and it shortens the thread path dramatically, enabling the machine to sew at speeds nearly twice as fast as the average quilt machine.”
GSG unveiled another half–dozen new machines at the show, including the “world’s fastest packaging machine.” The Merello ME–105 Auto Mattress Packaging System can finish five pieces per minute. It tightly wraps mattresses of any size and type, automatically detecting the length and width of each piece.
Machinery maker Albrecht Bäumer GmbH & Co. KG, based in Freudenberg, Germany, offered manufacturers greater efficiency, too. It introduced the EP profiling machine, which provides cost–effective cutting of multizone mattresses and toppers. The machine speeds up mattress assembly and saves labor with its sheet flip–over station and automatic unstacking system. The flip–over function means that sheets can be stacked with the profile on top, ready to be fed into a gluing or topping line.
Fema Italian Cutting Systems S.r.l. of Gravina, Italy, a maker of foam cutting equipment, launched the Giotto HCS horizontal cutting system. The machine is a simpler, less automated version of the Giotto SCS. It’s available equipped with an oscillating band knife system, a circulating band knife or both.
With more and more mattress manufacturers working with foam cores, Heynen Systems BV, a Lelystad, Netherlands–based machinery maker and knitting company, rolled out the automated Tricover stocking machine to step up foam mattress finishing. The company also offers a manual stocking machine for mattress cores.
Emil Stutznäcker GmbH & Co. KG, with headquarters in Cologne, showcased its high–speed Mammut VMK Select, a quilter with two needle bars that the company says is easier to operate and requires less downtime to change patterns than its previous VMK model with three needle bars.
Mert Makina specializes in automated mattress lines, allowing nine people to manufacture 500 mattresses in one eight–hour shift, said Nebi Dogan, general sales manager of the Kayseri, Turkey–based machinery supplier. The Hotmelt Glue Line Machine was a new introduction at the show.
Osaka, Japan–based Matsushita Industrial Co. Ltd.’s focus was on sewing machinery produced in conjunction with Chinese manufacturer Nanjing Square Mattress Machinery Co. Ltd. The MS–T601 tape–edge machine handles heavyweight materials with greater ease and the MS–T501 tape–edge machine boasts faster speeds, adjustability and an auto–flip sewing head, according to the company. Other offerings include the MS–ST3 handle–strap tacking machine and the CTF Mattress Logo Tape Sewing Machine.
Adhesive supplier SABA, with headquarters in Dinxperio, Netherlands, is seeking to reduce steps in the gluing process. Its new “one4two” spray gun is a one–coat sprayer with a “booster feature” for adding more adhesive where necessary. Benefits include “high transfer efficiency,” ease of application and reduced adhesive consumption, the company says.
Agro, with headquarters in Bad Essen, Germany, seeks to simplify and demystify the mattress design process with its new innerspring “construction kit.” The kit narrows Agro’s large product selection to six choices and spells out recommended uses, coil sizes, counts and other features. The company also introduced a number of taller, lighter and quieter encased coils, as well as a unique hinged innerspring unit designed for adjustable bases.
Fabric makers pushed boundaries with knits—and wovens, too—with ever–more elasticity and designs that reach into the realm of high art. There were super–soft, super–stretchy knits coupled with vivid yarn colors and graphic design motifs.
“There is definitely a move toward mattress fabrics with more color now,” said Paolo Stellini, managing director of Magnago, Italy–based Stellini Textile Group.
“Sleeker, multifunctional styling using upholstery–style fabrics with rich color on pared–down bed silhouettes is an accelerating trend,” said Laura Allred, design director of fabric supplier CT Nassau, based in Alamance, N.C. “These upholstery looks are being influenced by urban loft living and city dwellers.”
Sunds Textiles, with headquarters in Sunds, Denmark, wowed visitors with vibrant, colorful designs—thanks to new investments in knitting machinery, said Steffen Rømer, Sunds vice president of sales.
Knit patterns with photo–quality design motifs caught the eye at Bekaert Textiles. The Waregem, Belgium–based company made a fashion statement with two new graphic collections—Brioso HD (for “high definition”) and the colorful Rayoz. Bekaert enlisted students at the Flanders Fashion Institute to create haute couture looks from the tickings, which were displayed on mannequins in a department store–style window in the showroom.
Ticking supplier DesleeClama, based in Zonnebeke, Belgium, exhibited four mattresses created by artist Jørgen Missotten. The series, titled “Dreams Never End”—where “deep blue waves make way for pure white serenity”—symbolized the four phases of sleep. The project’s goal was to illustrate the overriding importance of the bed’s appearance to consumers.
“Stretch” has become the most widely used adjective in describing mattress fabrics—and not just when talking about knits.
As part of the renewed interest in damask fabric on beds, Stellini expanded its collection of high–end woven fabrics with two–way stretch.
“Many customers are going back to jacquards to be different,” Stellini said. “Everyone has knits now; they’re getting boring. We were born a jacquard manufacturer. We love jacquards.”
Stretch met science at Bodet & Horst. The textile producer, which has headquarters in Elterlein, Germany, displayed an unusual prototype—a bed upholstered in a pressure–mapped fabric. The knit pattern matches its stretch to strategic pressure points for back, stomach and side sleepers.
Textile showrooms didn’t have a lock on cool visual aesthetics. There was plenty of pizzazz to be found among foam displays. Suppliers offered up vivid colors, unusual cuts and contours and new formulations. There was much to touch and test.
Paris–based Sapsa Latex displayed a wide selection of topper rolls, pillows and foam cores with signage that beckoned mattress makers to “Choose your profile,” “Choose your thickness” and “Choose your technology.” Sapsa offered a thick, 18–centimeter latex core that it manufactures without adhesives, using proprietary multifoaming technology. Another innovation was its hybrid latex core made of Dunlop latex poured over colored polyurethane foam rods that lend zoned support to the mattress.
Polyurethane foam producer FoamPartner Group, which has headquarters in Wolfhausen, Switzerland, wanted to prove that foam can be fun.
In its dream world–themed showroom, the company displayed concept mattresses similar to the concept cars rolled out at an automobile show. Standing on end were colorful, multipart foam cores with balls of foam in place of coils.
“Color adds drama to foam,” said Rita Kollbrunner, FoamPartner Group head of marketing and communications. “The use of color makes the finished product easier to market because it’s so attractive.”
Many exhibitors touted green features. There were products and processes that reduce carbon dioxide emissions, use fewer petroleum derivatives, are recyclable and are derived from sustainable resources. A number of suppliers say they are aiming for cradle–to–cradle sustainability.
Five Dutch companies that supply the mattress industry—Draka Interfoam BV in Hillegom, Netherlands; Enkev; SABA; Innofa; and Radium Foam BV, part of the Vita Group—announced their joint commitment to promote sustainability. They have formed the Sustainable Sleep Alliance with the goal of helping make “better beds for a better future.” The group says that producing sustainably manufactured goods is the responsible thing to do and meets the needs of consumers.
In a showroom decorated with leaves and fronds, Orsa Foam S.p.A., based in Gorla Minore, Italy, celebrated its new BB Foam, a polyurethane with a high percentage of bio–based content from soy. Orsa presented findings from an ISO–accredited U.S. testing laboratory that found the new foam formulation contains between 34% and 41% total bio–based content.
Water–based adhesives supplier Simalfa, based in Hawthorne, N.J., and Rafz, Switzerland, introduced 335 OF (overspray–free) adhesive. Use of the product creates a clean, safe and waste–free environment by ensuring that no spray particles go airborne, the company said.
Billing it as “the nonwoven for coming generations,” Starsprings introduced Enviro, a nonwoven fabric made from cornstarch–derived polyactide polyester that it uses to encase coils.
Enviro is biodegradable, recyclable, contains no petroleum products and is available with all Starsprings encased coils, said Johan Dahlin, sales and marketing manager for the company, which has headquarters in Herrljunga, Sweden.
Textile supplier Pratrivero S.p.A., based in Trivero, Italy, announced it had made significant capital investments in new machinery and manufacturing techniques, allowing it to improve production by 50% while at the same time dramatically reducing energy consumption and manufacturing waste.
“Our customers are constantly looking at ways to improve their manufacturing processes,” said Jim Tweddle, managing director of Wintech Engineering, a manufacturer of foam–cutting machinery based in Perth, Australia. “They’re looking for ways to reduce waste, use or recycle remnants. We’re seeing a real change in focus in manufacturing in the management of materials.”
And the winner is…
Interzum lauds ‘intelligent material & design’
Organizers of Interzum Cologne honored trade fair exhibitors with 35 awards, including eight Best of the Best accolades. Several honors went to mattress industry suppliers.
The juried awards aim to “put a spotlight on innovative design, intelligent details, aesthetics and functionality.”
Bekaert Textiles, based in Waregem, Belgium, earned one of the highest honors, receiving a Best of the Best award for its Smart Wrap. Described as an “intelligent mattress cover,” Smart Wrap is embedded with fiber optic technology from Lightspeed Systems of Asten, Netherlands. On display was a test bed able to monitor a sleeper’s breathing via a digital display. The technology, which can be programmed to track a sleeper’s presence in bed, sleep positions, pressure points and more, has a number of potential uses.
“Perhaps the next generation of Smart Wrap will be able to tell when it’s time to replace your mattress,” said Wim Van Thienen, Bekaert research and development manager.
Fabric supplier Bodet & Horst, which has headquarters in Elterlein, Germany, received a High Product Quality award for its Bielastic Comfort Streeetch collection.
“The fabric has 50% to 60% stretch in both directions,” said Apollonija Spela Honigsman, Bodet & Horst research and development manager. “We wanted to create a textile that takes the body’s shape, conforming in all directions, no matter how you move in bed.”
Textile supplier DesleeClama, with headquarters in Zonnebeke, Belgium, won two High Product Quality awards. Quick Fit is a new fabric collection that’s prequilted and ready to fit over the mattress core. The company also offers a Quick Fit kit that includes a quilted panel with border fabric attached. Deslee’s second award was for anti–bacterial, moisture–inhibiting Argentum fabric with silver particles.
Tilburg, Netherlands–based knit supplier Innofa won a High Product Quality award for Airvent. The fabric stretches in all directions and requires no quilting. It has “air grids” or vents that can be matched to the mattress core’s air channels to optimize air circulation throughout the bed.
“This certainly was a timely award with so many mattress manufacturers around the world paying increased attention to the importance of ventilation and stretch in nonquilted mattress covers,” said Job Dröge, Innofa president.
Latexco’s “Fire Retardant” latex earned an award for High Product Quality. The company says the foam meets a number of European FR standards, while retaining all of the properties of latex. Fire Retardant production technology can be applied to all Latexco products—from foam cores to pillows.
Zwevegem, Belgium–based Maes Mattress Ticking NV won a High Product Quality award for its Cocona Natural Technology textile. The fabric contains activated charcoal from coconut shells for moisture and odor management.
The Frolexus Koala mattress and box spring by Froli Kunststoffwerk GmbH & Co. KG in Schloss Holte–Stukenbrock, Germany, also took home a High Product Quality award. Both bed and base are said to be highly breathable and contain flexible plastic springs.