What is Memory Foam?
Our country's Space programs were in their infancy in 1966. It would still be three and a half years before man would walk on the moon. John Glenn,Neil Armstrong and Alan Shepard were hardly household names. And, NASA wanted to make them as comfortable as possible during flight. These test pilots, later to be called astronauts, were risking their lives every day and deserved the best back, leg and upper body support the flight engineers could find in the galaxy. This was the engineer's mission, and it was critical. It was also strategic for these engineers to provide the maximum amount of protection in the event of a crash or during sudden vibrations, which happened almost the entire duration of every flight.
Charles Yost was chosen by NASA exclusively for this back, leg and upper body support and protection project. Yost was the same engineer who created the Apollo recovery system for each and every mission command module. What Yost did was nothing short of amazing. By feeding gas into a polymer matrix, he created a brand new, never before seen material. What he invented was a type of foam. But not just any foam, this material contained billions of open cells. These open cells were stable but often reacted like liquid. The cells shifted and reorganized when compressed. The creation was a breakthrough. People began to call it "spring back foam," later this, of course, turned into the familiar phrase "memory foam." He also found a softening quality to the material when it interacted with human body heat. This miracle foam also stayed firmer when cooler. It had the unique scientific quality to mold to the human body, displacing perfect weight distribution. It always sprung back to its original shape without any pointy and dangerous springs. It turns out this was one of Yost's original goals, to completely get rid of spring loaded seating and support altogether. Well, he did, and the ultimate result is memory foam was introduced to the world.
Memory Foam was inducted into the Space Hall of Fame in 1988. That's how important a discovery it was. NASA did not release their memory foam to the public until 1980. Then and only then was it ordained to be memory foam for all! Even if you don't own a memory foam mattress, you've probably seen one tested or demonstrated on television or the web. Memory foam's unique properties have been manufactured into products like shoes, pillows, airplanes, football helmets, cars, amusement park rides, horseback saddles, archery targets, furniture and human and animal prostheses!
Engineers have toyed with the construction and materials to make it even more versatile over the past three and a half decades. Doctors can even modify the foam to make it safer when patients are at risk for bed sores. Mattress manufacturers, like the ones here at memoryfoam.com, have found better ways to ventilate the memory foam after customers complained that the mattresses were too hot. Many mattress manufacturers have taken advantage of NASA's innovation. They have added airflow layers and incorporated many other materials to make memory foam mattresses perfect for sleeping. Memory foam's response time has been significantly increased. The foam springs back into shape almost instantaneously now. Shoe manufactures have included an anti-bacterial layer which diverts heat and moisture. Memory foam manufacturers have also been experimenting with plant-based alternatives to the polyurethane-silicon plastic original. Stayed tuned for many more incredible innovations in the universe of memory foam.
The Different types of Memory Foam
Gel FoamThis widely used material is both versatile and affordable, making its use widespread in many consumer goods.
Memory FoamThis amazing substance has revolutionized the home goods industry since NASA released it to the public in the early 80's.
LatexCreated from a natural substance, the flexibility and unique properties of latex make it a favorite substance for many.
Throughout the 50's foams were being used in the very early stages of cushioning. These are still some of the most common uses today. Foam can be flexible or rigid, solid or open cellular structure. We have seen many developments over the past decade and are now surrounded by gel foam applications everywhere we look. Hidden behind covers or surfaces, gel foams are the materials we rely on; you simply can't image life without them.
Memory Foam provides many health benefits. Memory Foam is created using a material that is sensitive to a person's body heat and weight. As these measurables increase, the mattress, pillow, or any of the various other items made with this wonderful material becomes softer. By placing your body in its naturally correct position, an individual with sleeping disorders can fix these by combining a pillow and mattress made from memory foam!
Latex: The flexibility of latex makes it perfect for an unlimited number of applications. It's superior elasticity was a natural fit for household furniture cushions and mattresses. Latex has properties not found in the chemical world because it is a naturally occurring product of the earth at its base. Products made with Latex are a bit more expensive, but fans of this unique material know it's worth it. Latex is a space age polymer that is over 900 years old, imagine that!