The mattress industry is focusing on more specialized, high-end quality products. The high prices of natural rubber is offering a unique opportunity to traditional PU foam producers.
Latex is perceived as a high end, environmentally friendly product and it is priced as a premium in developed markets due to its superior support factor, silky touch and high air flow.
Following the recent worldwide trend, consumers are becoming more aware of their sleep habits. Latex scores higher than Polyurethane foam due to its superior resilience, support factor, dynamic and static fatigue resistance. Additionally, latex foam often provides superior pressure relief particularly in bedding applications.
Natural rubber prices have soared due to dwindling supplies since the start of 2016. Along with the high cost and low supplies, the Latex foam industry is also suffering due to increased cost of labour and energy as it involves several production steps including processes requiring moulds, freezing, vulcanizing, washing to remove additives and then finally drying.
A combination of the factors above have driven the Polyurethane industry to focus on producing foam that performs and feels like Latex foam, and is still cheaper. Recent developments in Polyurethane chemicals are providing technology and know-how to Polyurethane foam producers to enable them to produce foam with Latex like properties. This is providing a cheaper alternative to mattress manufacturers who are now warming up to Latex-like foams and it is certainly one of the buzz words in the market today.
Production of latex like foams is done by one of two routes – by use of a specially formulated Polyol or by a different Isocyanate.
Cannon Viking offers solutions for both methods by providing accurate metering unit packages to help produce PU foam with Latex properties.
This involves usage of m-MDI at a low index to produce High Resilience Foam having random cell structure that displays Latex-like feel and characteristics with superior physical performance as compared to Latex foam.
High resilience Polyurethane foams are produced by reacting an Isocyanate with an Isocyanate-reactive component containing two or more reactive sites, generally in the presence of blowing agent(s), catalysts, surfactants and other auxiliary additives.
Two different nucleating gases are introduced at low pressure to help produce primary and secondary cell structure that enhance the Latex-like characteristics of the foam.
While a combination of two nucleation gases yields the latex-like smooth feel , the use of Diphenylmethane Diisocyanate (MDI) produces the slabstock Polyurethane foam which has superior physical properties to traditional latex foam.
These slabstock Polyurethane foams display superior durability by having improved tensile strength, elongation and tear resistance as well as dynamic and static fatigue resistance compared with latex foam at similar densities.
Cannon Viking provides a complete set of chemical metering units to produce High Resilience foam typically comprising of the following:
• MDI metering unit
• HR Polyol metering unit
• HR additives metering unit
Major Polyol producers are now offering specially formulated Polyols to produce conventional foam, super soft foam and special visco elastic foam with Latex like features, especially the air flow and silky feel.
The mattresses made of such foams typically have the following characteristics –
• Allow for constant Air Flow throughout the night, helping it remain cool just like Latex foam mattresses.
• Improved durability than Latex foam
• Reduced compression over time
• Low emissions
• Great soft feeling just like Latex foam
• Easy to produce and price friendly therefore reaching a wider audience
Cannon Viking provides special metering units to pump these specially formulated Polyols to help produce Latex-like foam. These can typically comprise of :
• Special Polyol metering unit
• Additive metering unit if required