A Look at the History of Memory Foam

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Acting in the 1967 hit movie The Graduate, Walter Brooke had no idea what he was on to when he forced this nutty piece of advice on Dustin Hoffman:

Mr. McGuire: I want to say one word to you. Just one word.

Benjamin: Yes, sir.

Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?

Benjamin: Yes, I am.

Mr. McGuire: Plastics.

To Brooke’s sincere astonishment, “plastics” took the stock market by storm the very next year. The success of plastic, with uses limited only by the imagination, became one of the most important legacies of the 19th and 20th Centuries. If the Oscar-winning director Mike Nichols were ever to update his movie for a modern audience, Mr. McGuire would have two new words for Benjamin: memory foam.

Memory foam is a truly space age material. The United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration developed the first generation of memory foam in the 1970s. Memory foam behaved like a liquid and a solid at the same time. You could press your hand into the surface of the material, and when you lifted it away, you could see your handprint lingering in the material for a short while as the material slowly resumed its original flat state. The “memory” of your hand was strong at first, and then faded with time. Realizing the ability of this new material to both cushion and support, NASA intended to use it in the space shuttle, as a way to take the edge off the G-force impact on astronauts’ bodies during lift-off.

The first generation of memory foam never got off the ground. It was too brittle and tended to break down after a year or two. NASA forgot about it.

A Swedish company closely associated with the NASA memory foam project continued tinkering around with the polyurethane compound on their own and, after ten years of further research, produced a version that wouldn’t break down over time. It was a spongy, gel-like plastic, whose composite open cells could deform under pressure, redistribute the air pockets to neighboring cells, and return. The next generation of memory foam had arrived.

Tempur-Pedic, now a widely known company, started marketing the material to hospitals for mattress pads to decrease bedsore cases. Patients reported that these mattress pads markedly reduced pressure on joints while lying down, while at the same time providing all the back support they needed. Riding the waves of these rave reviews in the medical world, Tempur-Pedic introduced memory foam to the general populace in the early 1990s. It was very expensive at first, but soon other companies caught wind of memory foam’s potential, and now there are dozens and dozens of companies producing more and more memory foam products for demanding consumers every day. Prices continue to decline.

Today, memory foam is most often used in mattresses, mattress toppers, and pillows, but the versatile material is also used in pet beds, footwear, positional sleep aids, office furniture, automobile seat padding, infant cribs and car seats, wheel chair cushions, hip pads and padded sweatpants, computer carrying cases, movie theater seating, pistol gloves, ear plugs, tennis racquet handles, and more.

What would you make with memory foam?”

Write by phần mềm gốc

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