Fancy fabrics, airy foams, cool springs & fast machines
BY BARBARA T. NELLES
BedTimes traveled to Interzum Cologne, the biennial furniture machinery and components fair May 13-16 in Cologne, Germany. It was a busy show filled with intense buyers and upbeat exhibitors. One of the first things we noticed in mattress industry stands was a heightened level of talk about sustainability. Companies spoke of having refined their manufacturing processes to reduce their carbon footprints and emphasized their use of recycled materials and post-industrial waste. Some say they also have begun to address post-consumer recycling of their products.
In the machinery hall, it was obvious that suppliers aren’t just keeping up with bedding industry demands, but are offering smarter solutions for materials handling, cutting, sewing, filling and packaging. At foam cutting systems supplier Albrecht Bäumer GmbH & Co. KG, with headquarters in Freudenberg, Germany, a giant foam handling B-BOT robot was mesmerizing—and a fast worker. Both Lawrenceville, Ga.-based Atlanta Attachment Co. Inc. and Global Systems Group, the machinery division of Carthage, Mo.-based Leggett & Platt, had a host of updates and new machines that speed up production and reduce costs.
Ticking suppliers offered mattress makers a wide range of textiles and sewn covers with technical and aesthetic features to help beds and brands stand out on the sales floor. Textile companies emphasized sewn covers more than ever before. We saw many interesting and unusual concept beds with fabrics, tailoring and graphics that made show attendees stop and stare. We also saw reversible fabrics that help mattress makers coordinate panels, borders and bases more easily; upholstery-look knits, wovens and stitchbonds for bed and base borders—and for every pocketbook; finely detailed knit design motifs; and even photo-quality printed mattress fabrics.
Stands of innerspring suppliers were filled almost exclusively with pocketed springs of every width and height. And there were pocket fabric innovations that drew crowds, including Leeds, England-based Spinks Springs’ new, more breathable mesh fabric, winner of an Interzum Award.
Proving that there is more than one way—even two, three or four ways—to fill every layer of a mattress, fiber suppliers such as Enkev Group, with headquarters in Volendam, the Netherlands, broadened available heights and firmnesses of natural and manufactured fibers.
Foamers and latex producers displayed complete core solutions with options for comfort and support layers that ranged from soft to firm reticulated polyurethane foams, to new latex formulations. Better breathability—achieved via coring and contouring, phase-change material and open-cell formulations—was a common theme. BedTimes couldn’t help noticing the absence of gels and gel foams on the show floor. It’s one trend, suppliers said, that isn’t hot in Europe.
While foot traffic didn’t quite match levels of the very busy 2011 show, exhibitors said they were pleased with the quantity and quality of visitors to their stands and reported at least two strong traffic days. Herrljunga, Sweden-based innerspring supplier Starsprings International drew crowds up to the show’s final hours and told BedTimes it was the company’s “best show ever.”
Norman Rosenblatt, chairman of Princeton, N.J.-based mattress licensing group Therapedic International, which showed in the ISPA Bedding Centre, said: “You cannot pass up the opportunity of participating in an exhibition of this size. Interzum gives us the opportunity to network with our existing domestic and international licensees and add new ones and, secondly, walking the show is like getting a transfusion of excitement and energy. You get to feast on all of the innovation going on in materials and machinery. It helps us stay on top of trends and be a fountain of knowledge for all of our licensees who depend on us.”
Stay tuned. Much of the news pertaining to innersprings, foam and latex will be featured in our August and September issues. In the meantime, here are some highlights from Interzum the show floor:
MPT Group Ltd. The machinery supplier displayed a number of new and updated machines in a large space at the fair. Andrew Trickett, managing director of the Bacup, England-based company, touted improvements to the Infinity Sleep Support System, a continuous wire spring unit fabricator that now builds 8-inch tall spring units—a full 1 inch taller than competitive fabricators, he said. Also in the spotlight: machinery for versatile decorative border work, including the new Euromax Plus and Verso Quilt mattress border quilting machines.
Mert Makina The company unveiled the updated MMS 1200 quilter. The machine has a “stronger chassis, more quiet operation and double chainstitch and tack-and-jump capabilities for really thick quilts,” said Nebi Dogan, director of sales and marketing for the Kayseri, Turkey-based company. Mert Makina also displayed the MMS 2200 mattress packaging machinery line. It has upgraded Siemens electronics and can wrap as many as 900 beds an hour.
Atlanta Attachment Co. Inc. At its first Interzum Cologne appearance as an exhibitor, Atlanta Attachment Co. Inc. displayed several pieces of mattress border machinery front and center in its large exhibition space. “Border aesthetics have been growing in importance to mattress manufacturers for several years now,” said Hank Little, president of the Lawrenceville, Ga.-based company. “The 1312 Automatic Decorative Border Workstation offers even greater flexibility and versatility with anywhere from a ¼-inch to 6-inch needle distance.” The workstation also can sew on decorative tape and features a synchronized puller that prevents seam pucker. In addition, the company featured a new tape-edge machine. The 1345-1ET Tape Edge Workstation is designed for smaller factories and retains many of the features of the standard 2B workstation, Little said. The unit has a manual hand crank for changing sewing-head tilt and an optional stainless steel top, if the customer requires it.
Amelco Industries Ltd. Nicosia, Cyprus-based equipment supplier Amelco Industries Ltd. launched the FF-1U frame forming machine, which works with both flat steel strip and round border wire. Earlier models handle either flat or round wire, said Andreas Georgallis, financial director. Also on display, the updated RL2000 PRE roll-packing machine (pictured). It has a precompression feeding table that enables the compression and packing of tall innerspring units.
Sunkist Chemical Machinery Ltd. The company, which is headquartered in Taipei, Taiwan, introduced the SA-PM auto-punching machine. It pinhole punches mattress toppers and core foam up to 8 inches thick and 98 inches wide. The machine is versatile and can be used to add perforations as small as 1 millimeter in diameter to textiles and other materials, said “Ken” Hwang Ber Fong, general manager.
Albrecht Bäumer GmbH & Co. KG Freudenberg, Germany-based Albrecht Bäumer GmbH & Co. KG, which specializes in foam cutting machinery, stopped traffic with B-BOT, a giant orange robotic foam handling system. The robot stood between two contour cutting machines, gripping and swiftly transporting foam sheets and waste strips. A single operator managed the controls of the B-BOT and the cutting machinery it worked in unison with, the OFS-H horizontal contour cutting machine and the OFS-VS vertical contour cutting machine. Stephan Halstrick, Bäumer chief executive officer, said B-BOT works with any of the company’s CNC machines and can pick, place, stack and count—no training required. It works in the dark, too.
Brighi Technologie Italia At Brighi Technologie Italia, husband-and- wife team Gabriele Brighi, general manager, and Milva Morani, marketing and sales manager, touted the features of their complete pillow manufacturing line. The final bagging and packaging stages were introduced at the show. “With Brighi EasyPillow/Brighi EasyBag, you can complete 4,000 pillows in one eight-hour shift with very little skill or training required,” Brighi said. The 40-year-old, family-owned company is based in Forlimpopoli, Italy.
Maquinol Intelligent Machinery The company, a supplier of foam production machinery, introduced the improved Uniblock Exacto foam block machine, now with digital technology. The improved Uniblock Exacto uses digitally controlled load cells to measure and add foam components and stores formulas in a digital archive to create completely repeatable processes. The machine reduces production costs due to fewer mistakes and more accurate measuring. Maquinol is based in Estarreja, Portugal.
Masias Maquinaria S.A. The Girona, Spain-based supplier of fiber processing machinery displayed an entire direct-feed fiber quilting and cutting line that produces filled panels for mattresses, toppers, pillows and other products. The line includes the new CMM Ball Fibers Forming Machine for creating cluster polyester fiber fill and the new Compact Blending line to produce filled panels from composite materials that include natural or synthetic fibers and waste from quilt or foam production. “This is a ‘green’ process that can produce many rolls to feed many quilters for quilt tops,” said Sonia Ortiz, Masias area sales manager. “You can substitute recycled materials, from foam waste to post-industrial mattress quilt panel waste. The machine will tear and reopen all types of fibers, from microfiber to shoddy.”
Fecken–Kirfel GmbH The company, which has world headquarters in Aachen, Germany, showed its updated T6/T8 series of foam cutting machines, which cut block foam on all four sides to create finished mattress sizes and can be integrated into a complex foam cutting line. The machines have a patented continuous band knife—not an oscillating knife—that enables foam fabricators in the bedding industry to cut higher density visco-elastic and other high-density mattress foams, said Michael Anders, Fecken-Kirfel America vice president.
Innofa The company won an Interzum Award for its two-sided Cozy double-knit fabric with heathered yarns on the back side. According to Innofa owner Job Dröge (pictured right with Johan Cleyman, managing director of Innofa USA), the fabric makes it easier for mattress makers to design a well-coordinated mattress and foundation. The company launched several other collections, including an elegant selection of velour fabrics for mattress panels, new designs in the Airvent line, an anti-slip foundation panel fabric especially for adjustable bases, and a group of super-stretch, thick modern knits—no quilting required—geared toward the all-foam bed market in the United States. Innofa is based in Tilburg, the Netherlands.
Chili Technology LLC Mattress heating and cooling systems supplier Chili Technology LLC, with headquarters in Mooresville, N.C., made its Interzum Cologne debut. “It’s our first time at the show, and it’s just been great with lots of interest from visitors from around the world,” said Todd Youngblood, Chili Technology co-creator and president (pictured right with David Dowdy, director of sales). The company introduced the Cube temperature control unit, which rolls out this summer and offers increased efficiency in heating and cooling.
Stellini Textile Group Magnago, Italy-based Stellini Textile Group featured a collection of woven fabrics for bed bases and borders made from 100% polypropylene fiber, which the vertically integrated company spins itself. The new fabrics cater to a growing trend both in Europe and North America for upholstery-look contrasting borders, said Paolo Stellini, managing director. Unlike other fibers, polypropylene is stain resistant and nonabsorbing. The company also broadened its “ecologically friendly” Aerlan line, introduced at Interzum Cologne in 2011. It’s made with lightweight, recyclable polyolefin yarns.
Latexco LLC Announcing that it’s no longer “just a latex company—but a comfort company,” Latexco LLC had two major introductions. The Tielt, Belgium-based supplier launched Föm, a collection of four memory foams with differing properties and recovery rates. The new foams are poured from the top down using “gravity-fed technology,” which creates a more uniform foam, said Roger Coffey, president of Latexco’s U.S. division, Latexco West. In addition, the company launched two latex foams for toppers—Pulse and Reshape—using the new Sonocore process. “It’s neither the Dunlop nor Talalay process,” said Alexander Bolliou, Latexco chief executive officer (pictured holding a Pulse topper), “but a whole new way of making latex using radio-wave frequencies.” Pulse has a traditional latex feel, while Reshape is similar to memory foam.
Lava Textiles The company, with world headquarters in Wielsbeke, Belgium, displayed a range of new knits, including a heavyweight (999 grams per square meter) collection, a group using micro Tencel yarns to produce high-definition design motifs and the thermo-regulating Emana collection. In addition, the company unveiled a “microencapsulated cooling treatment with a slight mint aroma” called Cool Touch, which can be applied to any of its fabrics. On display in the showroom was a concept bed using the company’s new Total Package Concept (pictured), which enables mattress manufacturers to create coordinated panels, borders, foot streamers and pillows.
Soff-Art The pillow supplier, which is based in Terni, Italy, displayed its extensive collection of Italian-made pillows, all of which contain the patented Morpheus Spring System. The company launched a new adjustability feature for better head and neck support in its popular Viscospring Wonderpillow, said Giuliano Sciannameo, Soff-Art president. The Viscospring Wonderpillow Head & Neck Relief has “DES” or “differentiated edge support.” Viscospring is now available in three comfort levels—soft, medium and firm—and uses perforated visco-elastic for better ventilation. It retails for about $100.
Bekaert Textiles At Bekaert Textiles, a highlight was Interzum Award-winning fabric treatment Adaptive, which uses HeiQ, a moisture-control technology licensed by Swiss-based HeiQ Materials AG. The patent-pending fabric treatment contains “hydro-functional polymers that use the heat of your body to speed evaporation, moisture wicking and cooling,” said Philip Ghekiere, strategic innovation manager. “People are vapor machines. Yes, your mattress should sleep cool, but every mattress also should sleep dry. You are perspiring day and night, and your bed textiles need to deal with that humidity.” Also on display were numerous new knit collections with cooling effects, as well as upholstery-style wovens, which are “taking off in a big way,” Ghekiere said. In an adjacent stand, the Waregem, Belgium-based company also showcased five cover concepts produced by Progressive Products Inc., a sewn-cover producer it acquired in 2012. Themes ranged from urban to royalty.
Spinks Springs The news at Spinks Springs, which has headquarters in Leeds, England, was a microcoil wrapped in highly breathable mesh fabric. The Interzum Award-winning mesh-wrapped coils can be layered at the top of the bed and are designed to allow maximum airflow, cooler sleep, increased support and improved pressure-point relief.
Enkev Group Fiber supplier Enkev Group widened its range of Labyrinth synthetic fiber pads, including much softer versions for mattress comfort layers. “Labyrinth is made of thermoplastic elastomer that is highly resilient, fully recyclable, breathable and hygienic,” said Matt Dwyer, Enkev sales manager. “There is a version of Labyrinth for every mattress layer, from core to comfort layer.”
The Vita Group The company, based in Maastricht, the Netherlands, presented a broad range of new Vita Talalay and Radium Foam/Draka Interfoam polyurethane foam products. Sustainability was a central theme. Vita’s 100% natural Talalay offering recently achieved the Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency’s Cradle to Cradle seal, said Cees Zielman, Vita Talalay general manager. “The end goal is that a mattress made of our 100% natural Talalay would come back to us at the end of its useful life and be transformed into a new solid rubber product. And we have set up a new company to do just that.” Draka Interfoam launched five new polyurethane foams for bedding uses with a range of characteristics—from plush topper foams to FR foams to very fine reticulated foams for superior ventilation.
Orsa Foam S.p.A. Gorla Minore, Italy-based Orsa Foam S.p.A. introduced Breeze, a high-resiliency polyurethane foam (yellow) and a visco-elastic foam (blue) that closely resemble reticulated foams but are produced through a proprietary process with proprietary ingredients, said Monica Rossi, export manager. The rapid-response, open-cell visco “bounces back even when frozen and has no difference in feel, even in cold temperatures,” Rossi said. The company’s eye-catching stand had vertical cylinders filled with brightly colored mattress “cores” of new Breeze foams layered with other cut and contoured mattress foams.
FoamPartner Group The company, headquartered in Wolfhausen, Switzerland, presented a visually engaging display of engineered foam cores. Each concept core used as many as seven types of foams in a range of colors, cuts, contours and zoning. The concept cores featured a new foam in the company’s repertoire—EvoPoreHRC polyurethane foam is pictured here in the pink, gray and green foams. (HRC stands for high-resilience climate.) It’s a “very lightweight yet extremely stable and durable polyurethane foam—a perfect fit for the mattress industry,” said Rita Kollbrunner, head of marketing and communications.
Entex Textil S.L. Madrid-based Entex Textil S.L. is expanding its mattress fabric distribution into all of the Americas thanks to a new production facility in Mexico City, said David Gomez Frances, export manager. The company displayed its technical and design prowess with a range of new fabric collections—from a 3-D blister knit group to fabrics with intricate and arresting design motifs. Pictured is Lèvres (lips) from the company’s Alternative collection.
Pratrivero S.p.A. Stitchbond supplier Pratrivero S.p.A. is celebrating its 350th anniversary and displayed a glass-encased company ledger dating back to the Renaissance at its showroom. The Pratrivero, Italy-based company launched a number of distinctly 21st-century fabrics, too. New offerings for mattress makers included the updated Soster collection of FR stitchbonds, as well as a group of printed stitchbonds with the look of upholstery fabrics. The tweedy nonwovens offer an affordable alternative to woven upholstery-style fabrics for bed borders, said Paolo Barberis Canonico, president and chief executive officer. “There is a lot of technology behind our products. We believe that when properly designed and manufactured, stitchbonds can be comparable to fabrics—and even, in some cases, better than fabrics.”
Sunds Textiles Headquartered in Sunds, Denmark, Sunds Textiles has specialized in producing sewn covers for more than a decade, said Steffen Rømer, vice president of sales. “We started this trend and have seen interest in covers grow dramatically. The keyword here is possibilities. Manufacturers want more and more colors, texture and interesting lines and motifs.”
Global Systems Group Global Systems Group, a division of Carthage, Mo.-based Leggett & Platt, unveiled a host of machinery and updates, including the GB-1 Glue Bridge from Gribetz International for automated application of SABA’s patent-pending 13.0 Hybrid series water-based adhesive. The GB-1 eliminates overspray and can be used in the assembly of a range of mattress materials in foam encasement assembly or multilayer component lamination for foam beds. “The way the machine pumps the glue minimizes overspray and any glue mist,” said Russ Bowman, GSG president of sales. “You get a very fast tack and it’s less expensive than hot melt.” GSG also launched the GRS-1 Foam Rail Splicer that enables mattress makers to purchase a single rail SKU and then measure and cut rails to size. The Paragon M+ quilter received a host of improvements, including Plexiglas end cabinets, LED lighting and an updated operating system. GSG also now offers customers a preventive maintenance software package.
DesleeClama The company, with headquarters in Zonnebeke, Belgium, invited visitors to glimpse the future of sleep with the Sleeping Tomorrow concept bed. The bed uses two fabrics that were Interzum Award winners, the Smart Cover and Sound Absorbing collections. The Sleeping Tomorrow bed has a podlike headboard, assorted lighting features for function and light therapy, an integrated touchpad and iMac, sound features, adjustable mattress and other futuristic elements. The company launched three additional knit collections. Bodyfit is an unusual knit with the look of a cut-and-sewn fabric that combines dramatic styling with zoned stretch and support. Picture Perfect transfers photo-quality images to double-knit fabrics—perfect for youth bedding or for point-of-sale messaging, the company said. Flexigel is a collection of knits with an application of solid gel to the back. The gel can be zoned and adds pressure relief and coolness to the bed.
Arpico A division of vertically integrated Richard Pieris Natural Foams Ltd. based in Maharagama, Sri Lanka, and a producer of GOLS-certified all-natural latex, Arpico returned to Interzum for the first time in six years. The company showcased two latex core designs: Air Cell has large pinhole coring designed to increase air circulation and Latex DNA has a contoured surface that provides more comfort and reduces motion transfer and partner disturbance, said Januka Karunasena, general manager. The company also reintroduced a latex pillow group retailing from $80 to $150 in four silhouettes.
Bodet & Horst GmbH & Co. KG Fabric supplier Bodet & Horst GmbH & Co. KG, with world headquarters in Elterlein, Germany, introduced Check Point, an Interzum Award-winning fabric for zip-off mattress and pillow covers. It has a hygiene sensor in the ticking that turns from green to yellow when it needs washing. The same sensor technology was used in a bed’s mattress foam, and the company touted it as a way for consumers to know when their mattress needs replacing. A cylindrical foam core cutout was imbued with sensor particles and placed back in the mattress foam. Other concept beds displayed a host of fabrics and finishes, including the CO2 Neutral collection made with antimony-free polyester, a 100% Tencel collection described as biodegradable, a new finish with encapsulated scents and lotions, and a sports-inspired bed using Celliant fiber.
Eight mattress industry suppliers win Interzum Cologne Awards
At this year’s Interzum Cologne trade fair May 13-16 in Cologne, Germany, eight bedding industry suppliers received Interzum top honors. The awards recognize high product quality and innovative design. “Only products which set themselves apart from comparable products, thanks to their outstanding design, are honored by the jury with this prize,” a news release said.
Bekaert Textiles, with headquarters in Waregem, Belgium, was acknowledged for its Adaptive fabric treatment, which uses a patent-pending technology developed in conjunction with Swiss company HeiQ Materials AG to alleviate mattress humidity by speeding up moisture evaporation to provide a cooling effect.
Bodet & Horst GmbH & Co., headquartered in Elterlein, Germany, was honored for Check Point, a fabric with a hygiene sensor that signals when mattress and pillow covers need washing. Indicator particles integrated in the textile react to different contaminants such as dust mites, skin flakes, bacteria or bodily fluids. The color indicator changes from green to yellow when cleaning is necessary. After washing, the indicator returns to its original color. The technology was developed in conjunction with the Munich-based Fraunhofer Research Institution.
Boyteks Tekstil, based in Kayseri, Turkey, received an award for Triple Fresh mattress fabric, which has a proprietary coating that is said to help improve bedroom air quality by neutralizing odors and harmful gases. According to a Boyteks news release, the fabric contains long-lasting “metal catalysts that set in motion a series of reactions to toxic gases, leaving them harmless.”
DesleeClama, based in Zonnebeke, Belgium, won two Interzum Awards. Both textiles were incorporated into the Sleeping Tomorrow concept bed on display at its Interzum stand. The first award was for Smart Cover, which uses integrated fiber-optic sensors capable of detecting when someone is lying on the mattress, tracking body temperature and other functions. It can work with integrated software to adjust bed temperature or switch on a light feature when the occupant leaves the bed. The second award was given for the Sound Absorbing upholstery collection, which covers the headboard area of its Sleeping Tomorrow bed. That fabric goes through a special finishing process, making it an effective sound barrier.
Indurub NV, based in Kluisbergen, Belgium, received an Interzum “Best of the Best” Award for Dynamic Spring, a two-level suspension system for European-style slatted platform bases.
Innofa, which has world headquarters in Tilburg, the Netherlands, received an Interzum Award for the Cozy collection of mattress fabrics. Cozy is a two-sided knit designed specifically for innerspring and hybrid beds and has a chunky, “knitted blanket” feel and appearance.
Ovattificio Fortunato, with headquarters in Belizzi, Italy, was honored for Box Mistral, a customizable, engineered mattress core constructed without glues and consisting of foams, wrapped coils and 3-D spacer fabrics. “Box Mistral’s breathability in combination with its hygienic and ergonomic properties makes it a true product innovation that is certified as a medical product,” the Interzum Awards website states. Ovattificio Fortunato is a producer of foams, felts and Mistral brand spacer fabrics. The Box Mistral was designed by company principal Pasquale Fortunato.
Spinks Springs in Leeds, England, received an Interzum Award for its new mesh-wrapped pocketed microcoils. When used in a bed’s top comfort layers, the new springs allow maximum air flow and provide excellent pressure-point relief, the company said.