Innersprings are all over the place — in mattress cores, tops and edges — as innovations make them softer, smaller and more adaptable to the demands of today’s mattress constructions
At a time when sustainability has become a watchword, sleeper comfort is crucial and consumers can order mattresses with a simple click, springs makers want mattress manufacturers to know their products have it all covered. From glueless coils that make recycling used mattress components easier to finer wires for a softer sleeping surface to units that stretch all the way to the bed’s perimeter for a firmer edge and nicer out-of-the-box presentation on e-commerce orders, springs innovations continue to leap ahead.
“Springs may seem simplistic but there’s a significant amount of research and development that goes into the design process in order to produce optimal benefits for both the mattress manufacturer, and, most importantly, the consumer,” says Jason Jewett, vice president of product development at Carthage, Missouri-based components supplier Leggett & Platt Inc.
Comfortable and sustainable
It’s no secret that coils have sprung up everywhere in the mattress — in cores, comfort layers and edges. Typically, short microcoils are used in comfort layers and taller, usually fabric-encased springs are used as the core support layer. Now, Leeds, England-based Spinks has a development that could bring taller springs closer to the top. Called Cortec, this glue-free wrapped-coil core introduced at Interzum Cologne in Cologne, Germany, in May produces a spring mattress so comfortable that only the thinnest top layer, perhaps a spacer fabric, is required to create an ideal sleep surface, says Darren Marcangelo, Spinks commercial director.
“We spend all this time putting in comfort layers — whether it’s foam, fibers or natural materials — on top of the springs because the springs are supportive but not comfortable,” he says. “With Cortec being so comfortable on its own, the more you have on top of it, the more you lose the benefit of the product.”
While the Cortec wire is finer (0.8 millimeters instead of 2 millimeters) and the number of coils used in a queen-size mattress is larger (3,400 instead of 1,000) than in a typical queen innerspring core, another key to Cortec’s comfort comes from something the spring unit doesn’t have — glue.
The springs come in ultrasonically welded polypropylene pockets, which are then folded together, accordion style, and also connected without glue. “We see this as that next technology that’s going to revolutionize the bedding and furniture markets,” Marcangelo says. “It contours in all the right places. It’s very supportive. It doesn’t act like a pocket coil. It’s a new breed.”
Cortec, which won an Interzum award for High Product Quality, answers a growing environmental concern about used mattress recyclability.
“Pockets should be able to shred no problem, but the glue clogs up the shredder, making them difficult to recycle,” Marcangelo says. As a result, many recyclers will not accept pocketed coils, which then can wind up in a landfill. Without glue, it’s easier to separate the steel from the fabric, allowing both components to be recycled.
Spinks will supply Cortec from the United Kingdom until they have manufacturing capabilities in the United States.
All the way to the top
In 2013, Spinks and Hickory, North Carolina-based HSM created HS2, a joint venture in which HSM’s Hickory Springs division manufactures Spinks’ microcoils in the United States.
“It’s been a successful partnership,” says Brad Crump, product manager of HS2, which had marketed the microcoils under the Posturfil brand. “Spinks brings a wealth of technology derived for the European markets and Hickory Springs customizes that technology for North America and provides manufacturing, logistics service and support.”
One recent shift is renaming the Posturfil line. Micro is the new brand, starting with Micro 1.0 and progressing to Micro 2.0 and Micro 2.5. The numbers represent the number of coils in a queen-size mattress. Micro 1.0 has 1,000 coils in a queen, 2.0 has 2,000 coils and 2.5 has 2,500 coils.
A new microcoil innovation is Micro 4.0, which is half the diameter of the Micro 2.0, offering twice as many coils per sheet. “Our philosophy is it’s about pressure relief, airflow, comfort and bringing all that together in a product that is truly durable and will outlast any other technology,” Crump says.
Also new is the spring-within-a-spring MicroDuo, which puts a slightly taller Micro 4.0 spring inside a Micro 2.0 spring, bringing the total coil count to 5,000 in a queen and creating a comfortable feel. “Once you lie on the bed, the little coil (the 4.0) catches you and the big coil (2.0) really supports you,” Crump says.
In looking at overall trends in the category, Crump and Paul Planton, general manager of HSM’s Spiller Spring plant in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, find that zoning is in high demand. Their Springs Anywhere technology allows manufacturers to create zones of softer or firmer coils or remove coils in a checkerboard effect, which results in a softer feel.
“We are selling more and more of the specialized either 2.0 or 2.5 with some of those options — skipping coils or heavier wire in strategic areas, such as the center third or the perimeter,” Planton says. “Those are doing really well.”
Living on the edge
The consumer’s appreciation of a better performing edge continues to push the demand for the ActivEdge family of products, Jewett of L&P says.
This family — Quantum Edge Elite, Quantum Edge, Caliber Edge and NanoCoil Edge — delivers support along the perimeter of the bed. Not only do these coil units prevent the feeling of rolling off when a person sits on the edge mattress, they also work well in an e-commerce market channel.
“It’s designed to help the mattress producer eliminate the need for a foam encasement,” Jewett says. “It’s very compress-, fold- and roll-friendly for boxed beds. A properly designed innerspring such as the L&P ActivEdge line allows a compressed hybrid mattress to recover very quickly, giving the consumer a better out-of-the-box experience and firmer edge.”
That firmness can be carried all the way to the top of the mattress with NanoCoil Edge, which, as the name implies, brings the firmer edge to the microcoil comfort layer. “You could have the most robust Quantum Edge possible but if you put enough foam on top of it, you start to lose that,” he says. “So, the NanoCoil Edge line works with the foam in the comfort layer to translate that edge firmness all the way to the top.”
Not that L&P is anti-foam. Far from it. Earlier this year, the company acquired Elite Comfort Solutions, a flexible polyurethane foam producer. As it moves forward, L&P is focused on helping mattress makers pair the correct foam with the correct innerspring, Jewett says.
“They’re the two most important ingredients for a fantastic mattress, so let’s figure out the absolute best way to pair them together,” he says. “There’s opportunity out there to pay better attention to how those two interact as opposed to simply just putting some foam on top of a bed and saying, ‘Yes, this feels right.’ Let’s better understand the science behind why that might feel right and what changes we could make to the spring to enhance the feel of the foam.”
Hopping on hybrids
In many mattress market showrooms these days, hybrid beds dominate the floors. For springs makers, that’s wonderful news.
“We’re pushing and promoting that concept every day,” Crump says. “I’d like to think we’ve been very integral in promoting that story and the word and concept of more microcoils in direct-to-consumer sleep solutions and hybrid bedding.”
At Interzum Cologne two years ago, Starsprings introduced S-touch, a coil topped with a latex pad within a needle-punched fabric encasement. This year, the Herrljunga, Sweden-based company debuted an updated version with foam “pillows” on top of the springs, all wrapped in a softer, spunbond fabric. The new materials offer different characteristics, says Tobias Lundberg, global sales and marketing director of Starsprings.
Starsprings also promotes the idea of mattress manufacturers incorporating into their bedding designs multilayer spring units, with different types of coils in each layer. The concept offers a way of combining different springs and their characteristics, creating new options with ultimate comfort as the outcome. For example, at the base, the firmest springs. In the next layer, zoned springs for spinal alignment. The top two layers could provide pressure relief and surface softness.
Lundberg says other trends he’s noticed include mattress producers’ increased willingness to work with Starsprings on product development, as well as manufacturers’ desire for smaller environmental footprints, and reducing material usage and waste.
In the zone
Also at Interzum in May, Agro Group focused on edge-to-edge coils with zones for comfort and support. The A.POC RelaxGuard I-VLT integrates different coil densities in the central portion of the mattress and secures them with an inner frame for extra stability. The A.POC RelaxGuard I also can be zoned and its interlacing coils allow for a smooth join between the inner coils and the framing coils, says Verena Dimper, who works in marketing for the company, which has headquarters in Bad Essen, Germany. Finally, the A.POC RelaxGuard II has an even firmer edge with smaller coils along the length. It gives the mattress a higher coil count and a straight outer line, according to the company.
As an added benefit, each unit is easy to break down to recycle, Dimper says.
“Recycling is more and more of an important trend,” she says. “(By not having to add framing foam), this reduces the number of different materials used and increases the proportion of mattress components that can be recycled.”
Another consideration for both springs producers and the mattress manufacturers they service is online product distribution. “More and more, customers ask for products that are suited for being rolled and folded (for boxed beds),” Dimper says. “This request is realized in nearly all innersprings that are produced by Agro, including the A.POC RelaxGuard.”
Industrias Subiñas, which partners with Agro for the A&S Innersprings USA venture in Windsor, Connecticut, also offers a coils-on-the-perimeter product — ForcEdge. Different wire thicknesses make up the firmer edge, says Javier Rodilla, president of Industrias Subiñas, which is based in Vizcaya, Spain. The company uses titanium wire to get firmer units with lighter wire or uses a combination of carbon steel wire and titanium wire for different feels across the mattress.
At the most recent Interzum Cologne show, the company also promoted combining different types of springs into one unit with a clever name — the SUB. It’s a take on SUV, the abbreviation for sport utility vehicle. As Rodilla explains, customers in England sometimes refer to the company’s products as Subs (short for Subiñas), so the company built on that. SUB stands for super utility base.
Other springs suppliers also are offering coil support edges for mattresses. Nova Sünger ve Yatak Sanayi A.S., based in Adapazari, Turkey, promoted its Surround at Interzum Cologne, and Boyçelik Metal Sanayi ve Ticaret A.S., headquartered in Kayseri, Turkey, debuted its Dura Coil. Additionally, Boyçelik introduced its Duo Pocket System. When producing encased coils, the DPS adds a double weld between the coils, spacing them out. Fewer coils mean a lower price and a softer product, says Feridun Tosun, Boyçelik marketing director.
Metal Matris, also based in Kayseri, didn’t introduce new products on the Interzum floor but hinted something new was on the horizon. The company recently opened its third factory in Turkey. Aytekin Marasli, international sales chief for Metal Matris, reported that traditional Bonnell coils are selling well for the company, which is a bit of a surprise because pocket coils seem to have the largest growth in the springs market in the past few years, according to a number of suppliers.
Martin Wolfson, president of Texas Pocket Springs, is seeing several specific trends among his customers. The company still makes zoned units, but instead of five and seven zones, three zones seems to be sufficient, Wolfson says. And spring heights have come down, from 9- and 10-inch coils to the more popular 6- or 8-inch coils. Texas Pocket Springs also is making more split-king units, which Wolfson attributes to the growing popularity of adjustable bases.
Due to the market shift to single-sided mattresses, Wolfson is working on a single-sided innerspring. With a six-convolution coil, the bottom two convolutions will be more spaced out, Wolfson says, “then, as you come closer to the top, they become closer, and the coil feel is plusher.”
In response to the demands of e-commerce, Texas Pocket Springs is producing a 4- to 6-inch unit that, in some instances, has what Wolfson calls a “hinge” down the vertical center of the bed, allowing it to be boxed more easily. “We don’t join the rows of coils together in the middle,” he says. “They are held together by a scrim sheet on the top. When it folds, it doesn’t do anything to the coils.”
Wolfson has long been a proponent of his company’s Quad Coil technology, which he says creates a stable unit because the coils don’t bow or separate from each other.
Springs suppliers tout the many benefits of their coils. They are durable. They promote airflow. They are recyclable. They provide both support and comfort. And suppliers are committed to their products.
“Simon Spinks (Harrison Spinks’ managing director) is sleeping on just (the Cortec) coil and spacer fabric,” Spinks’ Marcangelo says. “You don’t need any PCMs (phase-change materials) or gels or anything to make it cooler.”
Hickory Springs’ Crump is sleeping on Micro 4.0 with a mattress cover over it. “It makes a difference when it’s at the top of the bed rather than in the core covered up,” he says.
Wolfson says much the same. “The beauty of the pocketed coil is it’s the feel and the support all in one,” he says. “You don’t really need a whole lot of foam on top of it to get a nice feel.”
A Different Kind of Spring
While springs can be tall or micro, plush or firm, open or wrapped, one thing all typically have in common is they are constructed of wire. But Standard Gum Bedding has brought a new material into the world of coil comfort.
Showcased at Interzum Cologne in Cologne, Germany, in May and winner of an Interzum award for High Product Quality, Standard Gum’s Ideal Spring is a polymer unit with control knobs to adjust the firmness.
“We call it the Ideal Spring for an ideal night,” says Pascal Lobry, sales engineer for the company, which is based in Bourges, France.
The three-row unit is designed to be used in zones, such as for shoulder or lumbar support. It’s a net of double coils, which work separately. Control knobs on the side of the unit adjust the softness or firmness of the coils. Once placed inside a mattress, the knobs don’t protrude. Instead, a button on a fabric border indicates where to push for soft or firm.
Standard Gum also produces a polymer spring, called the Lemon Spring, that can go inside a bed frame. “It’s refreshing and offers plenty of circulation,” Lobry says.