BY BARBARA NELLES AND BETSI ROBINSON
At Interzum Cologne in Germany May 5-8, suppliers of springs, foams and latex offered mattress makers an array of product enhancements, often addressing support, comfort, airflow and temperature-regulation issues. European companies that two years ago had dismissed gel foams as a fad, were seen embracing it, latex suppliers touted new products and vulcanization processes, and phase-change materials found their way into many components.
Innerspring suppliers showed off myriad products that promised new levels of comfort and support. Consumer enthusiasm for innerspring beds continues to grow, suppliers said, and that interest is starting to spread to some traditionally foam-loving regions.
“It started in Central Europe three to four years ago and is still growing and spreading,” said Sven Tiemeier, sales manager for Agro, based in Bad Essen, Germany. “We’ve seen it from Russia to Spain. Asia is the next region we are exploring.”
Agro moved to a larger space at Interzum this year and introduced Squareflaex, a minipocket spring unit assembled without glue using ultrasonic welding. Offering extra flexibility, the low-profile pocket features a square pattern and is recommended for use in mattress toppers or multilayered upholstery, Tiemeier said. The 1-inch tall product uses a special soft-spun fabric—and less of it, reducing waste and eliminating the “crunchy” sound and feel glue can leave behind, the company said.
Based in Leeds, England, Spinks Springs now offers a complete good-better-best in its Posturflo microcoil line: The new Posturflo (good) is wrapped in a highly perforated nonwoven material; the Posturflo Mesh (better) uses a mesh fabric for “extreme ventilation”; and Interzum award-winning Posturflo 3D (best) has spacer fabric on top to create a comfort layer, as well as ventilation. All boast a high coil count that provides “body support unmatched by conventional springs,” said Darren Marcangelo, commercial director.
Another Spinks concept bed sported new Quiltech 3D, a plush knit ticking quilted to the company’s signature microcoils. The result is a cool, comfortable top layer and panel fabric all in one.
In response to market research and demand, Herrljunga, Sweden-based Starsprings introduced its second generation of the S-matic. The S-matic series—including Zone One, Zone Two and LS—is a lightweight but strong system that now can be placed anywhere in the mattress. It relies on a motor and three, 12-braid cords that can be tightened or loosened with the touch of a wireless remote “to create the perfect spine position” in either one or two zones (hips and shoulders), said Johan Dahlin, sales and marketing manager. The LS is adapted to adjust lumbar support, as well.
Dahlin called the new line a “dramatic improvement,” adding, “We think adjusting the firmness is the next step for us in the market.”
Starsprings also introduced its patented S-cut pocketed coils, designed with a long opening between the coils for more flexibility. The new product is available in 4-inch to 8-inch heights.
Business seemed brisk at Boycelik, which rolled out another “first” at the show. The Kayseri, Turkey-based company’s Duo Pocket System features two layers of pocket springs of the same diameter: thicker on the bottom for full support and thinner on the top for softness and comfort.
“It’s a fully functional system,” said Idris Babacan, area sales executive. “The soft spots are supporting your legs, neck and head, while the hard part, with double the number of springs, is supporting the heavier parts of your body—the hips and shoulders. It was really a good product for us. We got many, many orders.”
Metal Matris, also based in Kayseri, Turkey, rolled out Wave Balance and Wave Balance Smart, which use wrapped coils in rows of alternating heights to create the feeling of latex foam and improve airflow.
“We have very fast production lines so the cost savings to customers are great,” said Aytekin Marasli, international sales chief. “And we now have the ability to compress coils for shipping, which enhances our ability to work with U.S. customers. This is brand new.”
Foam ‘hotter’ than ever
Polyurethane and memory foam producers showcased products offering temperature regulation and comfort, achieving both through coring and contouring, phase-change materials and open-cell formulations. Also widely on display: A range of new gel solutions intended for comfort layers.
Dublin-based Kayfoam unveiled a patented, surface-infused gel—a product so new it had yet to be named. Unlike foam that is infused with gel throughout, a new method applies the phase-change technology and gel to only the top of the foam block.
“Kayfoam is delighted to be first to market in temperature-regulating innovation once again,” said David Moffit, chief executive officer. “We are especially keen to work with new partners and can offer exclusivity deals as part of our service.”
“New and improved” was the theme at Orsa Foam S.p.A. The company, with headquarters in Gorla Minore, Italy, highlighted innovations in several of its product families, most notably its Breeze line of flexible polyurethane foams. Breeze now features an open-cell structure to optimize airflow and the quick evaporation of moisture and heat.
Carpenter Co., with headquarters in Richmond, Virginia, spotlighted two nonvisco-elastic products designed for comfort layers and pillows: Serene, a pressure-relieving and highly durable polyurethane foam that launched in the United States in 2014; and Thermic, which is distributed in Europe. Thermic contains temperature-regulating, phase-change material and also is highly breathable.
Draka Interfoam, based in Hillegom, Netherlands, introduced Vita Climate Control, a temperature-regulating foam that features a combination of cooling elements in visco-elastic and conventional foams. The company’s new HR Foam boasts “30% more open cell than regular foam” for improved airflow, said Dennes Need, Draka sales manager.
Flex 2000 showcased its heat-sensitive, slow-recovery Viscoflex foam, which the company hopes to introduce in the United States. The product, which compresses by 70% for low-cost shipping, provides a range of zones for support and comfort, as well as improved airflow. In shock absorption tests, Viscoflex performs 20% better than other polyurethane foams, according to the company, which has headquarters in Esmoriz, Portugal.
Latex suppliers fill global demand
According to latex foam producers at Interzum Cologne, their product’s star is rising around the world. Suppliers focused on satisfying manufacturer demand for thin layers of their product—“just a touch” of latex at the top of the bed, as one supplier said—in addition to highlighting innovations in latex mattress and pillow cores. Dunlop latex suppliers touted improved vulcanization processes that yield a consistent product. Others promoted their 100% natural latex products, without additives or fillers.
Arpico featured its new continuous-sheeting latex, which is designed to be a quilting or comfort layer. The company pours the latex onto a bed—not in a mold—and uses steam for vulcanization. Arpico is a Richard Pieris Natural Foams Ltd. company that manufactures 100% natural latex and is Global Organic Latex Standard-certified. It’s based in Maharagama, Sri Lanka.
“Organic latex is very rare,” said CEO Januka Karunasena. “We have doubled our plant’s production capacity and about 40% of that is continuous sheeting. We are one of the only latex companies with our own plantation and manufacturing capabilities. It allows us to assure long-term availability of the product. Our own plantation is just 45 minutes from the factory.”
Lien A, with headquarters in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, ships cores, pillows and comfort layers to manufacturers around the world and is using new Dunlop continuous-foaming process to produce a highly consistent product. The company introduced 1-inch quilting latex that is nonperforated and smooth on both surfaces.
Artilat introduced Cloud 9, a latex cushion foam produced via a Dunlop foaming process. It offers plush Talalay-like feel, but at less cost, according to the company, which has headquarters in Niljen, Belgium.
Vita Talalay by Radium Foam rolled out Talalay latex pillows in five silhouettes for different sleep positions. The goal is to have manufacturers cobrand the pillows with Vita and to use pillows as an introduction to the comfort of Talalay latex, said Ila Farshad, manager of business development for the Maastricht, Netherlands-based company.
Latexco, with headquarters in Tielt, Belgium, highlighted its Pulse, or SonoCore, foaming process. Pulse was introduced in 2013 and yields an even more open-cell product with uniform structure and ventilation.
“By year end, we will have Pulse ready to go in the U.S. for the production of toppers,” said Roger Coffey, president of Latexco West dba Sleep Comp West in Buena Park, California.
The company introduced a further refinement to Pulse, which earned a 2015 Interzum Intelligent Material & Design award. New Pulse Fusion allows Latexco to fuse its Pulse latex foam to foams or other materials without adhesives. Latexco used Pulse Fusion to adhere its polyurethane Flo Fom products to latex for use in mattress comfort layers. The product currently is available in Europe.
Ecolatex displayed a selection of 100% natural latex cores and toppers with unique contours. The Misinto, Italy-based company sells a patented, honeycomb-profile topper, the Brevettato, which offers a plush feel and good airflow. The company’s Aliseo core comes with colorful plugs that can be added or removed to adjust the bed’s support level.
Enkev offers how-to app
Enkev Natural Fibres, with headquarters in Volendam, Netherlands, introduced a proprietary app for customers at Interzum Cologne that demonstrates how to work with its products.
“Our company is profiting from the major ‘natural’ trend, and we’re improving how we sell our products,” said Marc Dokter, Enkev commercial director. “We worked with a developer on this app with the goal of easing customer concerns about working with unfamiliar products. For instance, people get nervous if they haven’t used horsehair before, but it’s quite simple to work with all of our materials.”
Dokter said adding a layer of any of his company’s products—from rubberized horsehair to coconut fiber to the improved, stronger Labyrinth fiber— can add ventilation to a mattress. Labyrinth is recyclable polyethylene fiber that Enkev now extrudes itself.
Custom8 creates adjustable slats
At Interzum Cologne, Custom8 Intelligent Bedding Components, which has headquarters in Heverlee, Belgium, introduced a unique adjustable slatted base concept–or “active slat module”–that allows users to electronically adjust slat tension or stiffness in as many as eight zones of the foundation for better posture and comfort.
After the show, Custom8 announced the name of its newest invention: r-Leaf.
Read each section of the complete Interzum Cologne report for mattress manufacturers:
(You are here) Trends in springs, foam and latex