In the late 1960s, a group of chemists from NASA’s Ames Research Center came up with memory foam. Their goal was to make a material which would relieve the pressure from astronauts that was made by the g-forces they experienced during time of lift-of. The challenge for them was to create a material which would give both cushion and support and stop the creation of pressure points.
The scientists were successful in making the first to be seen visco-elastic polyurethane foam. It had properties which would lower the effects of g-forces because it conformed to the bodies of the astronauts and acted as a shock absorber for their whole body. This new, unique foam went back to its original state after pressure was taken away.
This new material was also sensitive to temperature besides pressure relieving. It softened as it absorbed heat from the body, and distributed weight quickly and evenly, adapting to any body movements.
1st Generation Memory Foam
A lot of versions of the 1st generation memory foam were tested extensively. The first ones were too brittle and usually broke down chemically after around two years. The process to manufacture them released fumes which were unpleasant and potentially dangerous in a spacecraft because of confined areas. The first generations of the memory foam were not durable either, flaking breaking apart after just a bit of use. Because of this and other issues, memory foam wasn’t ever actually used in space shuttles.
Next Generation Memory Foam
NASA wound up selling the technology after losing interest in memory foam. One of Europe’s largest foam producing companies, Fagerdala World Foams of Sweden, started experimenting in the 1980s so they could perfect the foam for use by consumers.
Memory foam was introduced in 1991 as a material in mattresses that relieved pressure to citizens of Sweden, and it received high marks. The same products were introduced in North America in 1992 and got met with a similar response.
A lot of other foam manufacturers in Canada, the United States, the Middle East, Europe and China started developing their own visco-elastic memory foam material for pillows and mattresses because of the success of this material. Specialty bedding made with memory foam is now a major choice in bedding and is a serious contender to spring mattresses.
The Future of Memory Foam and Innovation
The key in the development of memory foam is innovation. Companies are attending to issues of memory foam such as its sensitivity to temperature and how it preforms as a pressure relieving material. There are different types of memory foam available now, as well, including a gel type which does address the problem of the memory foam getting too hot which a lot of people have experienced. So there is an option already available for those who are their own heat box at night.
You can be sure with the ongoing research of this material that the imperfections will be worked out, making this one of the best mattresses to purchase when you are in the market for a new one