In the early 1970’s, NASA’s Ames Research Center funded a development project designed to create a substance that could help relieve astronauts of the incredible g-forces experienced during lift-off. They believed that one of the key secrets to reducing g-forces on the body was to use a foam material that could conform to each person’s shape and hold this conformity. While a foam mold of each astronaut’s body shape could accomplish this, any movement would take a person out of this position and create incorrect pressure points against the body. Instead, they created a new foam material that was visco-elastic and therefore able to conform to a person’s shape, but then come back to a normal shape once pressure was removed from the foam. This could allow an even distribution of pressure or body weight over the entire surface of the foam, but quickly adapt to any movements of the body.
With this amazing discovery, Fagerdala World Foams of Sweden, one of Europe’s largest foam producing companies, began experiments in the 1980s to perfect it for consumer use.
In 1991, Fagerdala introduced this material in a mattress form to the people of Sweden with very well-received results. In 1992, Tempur-Pedic® launched the same products in North America and experienced a similar response.
With the success of Tempur-Pedic® mattresses, other foam manufacturers in Canada and the United States began to develop their own visco-elastic memory foam material to offer to mattress, upholstering and specialty products companies the ability to allow consumers to have a variety of options and price levels to choose from.
The differences in memory foam will be outlined in the following paragraphs, and will hopefully enable the consumer to make an informed and savvy decision about which foam mattress product best suits their particular needs.