MATTRESS SUPPORT SYSTEMS
The core of the mattress supports the sleeper’s body. Modern spring mattress cores, often called “innersprings,” are made up of steel coil springs, or “coils.”
The gauge of the coils is another factor which determines firmness and support. Coils are measured in quarter increments. The lower the number, the thicker the spring. In general, higher-quality mattress coils have a 14-gauge diameter. Coils of 14 to 15.5-gauge give more easily under pressure, while a 12.5-gauge coil, the thickest typically available, feels quite firm.
Connections between the coils help the mattress retain its shape. Most coils are connected by interconnecting wires; encased coils are not connected, but the fabric encasement helps preserve the mattress shape.
Here are four types of mattress coils:
- Bonnell coils are the oldest and most common. First adapted from buggy seat springs of the 19th century, they are still prevalent in mid-priced mattresses. Bonnell springs are a knotted, round-top, hourglass-shaped steel wire coil. When laced together with cross wire helicals, these coils form the simplest innerspring unit, also referred to as a Bonnell unit.
- Marshall coils, also known as wrapped or encased coils or pocket springs, are thin-gauge, barrel-shaped, knotless coils individually encased in fabric pockets—normally a fabric from man-made, nonwoven fiber. Some manufacturers pre-compress these coils, which makes the mattress firmer and allows for motion separation between the sides of the bed. As the springs are not wired together, they work more or less independently: the weight on one spring does not affect its neighbors. Even after wear, two people side-by-side on a pocket spring mattress do not tend to make the mattress sag in the middle. More than half of the consumers who participated in a survey had chosen to buy pocket spring mattresses.
- Offset coils are an hourglass type coil on which portions of the top and bottom convolutions have been flattened. In assembling the innerspring unit, these flat segments of wire are hinged together with helical wires. The hinging effect of the unit is designed to conform to body shape. LFK coils are an unknotted offset coil with a cylindrical or columnar shape.
- Continuous coils are an innerspring configuration in which the rows of coils are formed from a single piece of wire. They work in a hinging effect similar to that of offset coils.
A memory foam mattress is usually denser than other foam mattresses, making it both more supportive, and heavier. The property of firmness (hard to soft) of memory foam is used in determining comfort. Firmness is measured by a foam’s indentation force deflection (IFD) rating. However, it is not a complete measurement of a “soft” or “firm” feel. A foam of higher IFD foam but lower density can feel soft when compressed.
Some report that IFD is a poor way to measure softness of memory foam, and that foam density as a measure of quality is more important, but not always true. Foam density of 5 pounds per cubic foot or greater is considered high quality, although most standard memory foam has a density of 1 to 5 lb/ft3 (16–80 kg/m3). Most bedding, such as topper pads and comfort layers in mattresses is 3 to 4.5 lb/ft3. Very high densities such as 5.3 lb/ft3 are used infrequently in mattresses.
The new 2nd and 3rd generation Memory foams have an open-cell structure that reacts to body heat and weight by ‘molding’ to the sleeper’s body, helping relieve pressure points, preventing pressure sores, etc. Most memory foam has the same basic chemical composition, however the density and layer thickness of the foam makes different mattresses feel very different. A high-density mattress will have better compression ratings over the life of the bedding. A lower-density one will have slightly shorter life due to the compression that takes place after repeated use.
Natural latex mattresses are the product of natural latex rubber, which is the milky sap from the rubber tree (hevea brasiliensis), with a small percentage of natural fillers. These trees are cultivated on plantations in South Asia, South America, Africa, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, providing jobs for numerous indigenous people. Once the trees have reached the end of their latex producing lives they are cut down, and replanted with new rubber tree clones. The timber is used to manufacture furniture and in construction, ensuring that there is no waste.
On top of being Eco-friendly and biodegradable, a latex mattress supplies a superb sleeping surface, relieving pressure points with outstanding support that many find superior to memory foam.
The Talalay Process
First, the raw liquid latex is whipped with curing agents and additives into a froth. Next, the appropriate amount of latex froth is injected into the mold. All of the air is then vacuumed out causing the latex to expand and perfectly distribute itself throughout the mold. The latex is then flash frozen to -20F to prevent any settling that may occur. Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is then introduced to cause the mixture to gel. Finally, the latex is vulcanized at a temperature of 220F until it has cured through and is washed in a process that removes residual soaps and proteins.
The Dunlop Process
The Dunlop process is similar to the Talalay process except that the mold is filled to the brim and there is no vacuum or freezing stage. The Dunlop process can create a firmer feeling, denser product. As the Dunlop process has been refined, a Dunlop latex mattress provides all of the benefits of 100% natural latex, at a lower cost, while still providing the unequaled comfort that has made the latex mattress so popular.
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