There are hundreds of types of foams and many classifications, each with unique properties that make them ideal for one or more applications. Manufacturers understand the need to choose the right foam for their products. It affects the cost, ease and speed of manufacturing, and overall quality of products.
When it comes to manufacturing seat cushions and other types of commercial and residential seating—including mattresses, furniture, restaurant benches, and much more—there are many properties that manufacturers should be looking for in their ideal foam type.
Resiliency and Durability
Seating foam’s most valuable properties are going to be its resiliency and durability. Cushions suffer years of use, which places them under repeated pressure over and over again. The foam you choose must be able to withstand this pressure without losing its shape, ripping, or otherwise morphing over time. At the same time, manufacturers also need to consider the firmness and density of the foam, which can greatly impact the level of comfort of the end products while in use. It’s a delicate balance to make, and when manufacturers get it right, they are rewarded with longer-lasting, better quality products.
Whether the seating is being used in a commercial or residential setting, the foam must be highly resilient to things like bacteria, mold, etc. This will increase the quality and longevity of the products they are used in. Many types of polyurethane and polyethylene foams are antimicrobial, so work with your foam supplier to select the right one for your seating application.
Fires spread quickly, but select foams can provide some resistance to the starting of fires, or slow their spread should they come in contact with the products they are used in. For commercial businesses, it may be required by state law to use certain types of flame retardant foam in their seating. For residential use, this type of foam can increase the home’s protection against fires. Fire retardant chemicals can be applied to different types of foams to give them this unique property.
Choosing Between Open and Closed-Cell Foam
Seat foams and cushioning can be made from polyurethane, which is an open-cell foam, or polyethylene, which is a closed-cell foam.
Open-cell foams (like memory foam) are lighter and softer and can easily return to their original shape. They are commonly used in:
- Pillows and bed wedges
- Seating cushions
Closed-cell foams are firmer and more rigid, which can make them more durable, tear–resistant, and better at absorbing shocks. However, these benefits tend to come at the cost of less comfort. When used in seating, closed-cell foams like polyethylene tend to be reserved for outdoor furniture (due to their water resistance) and medical applications.