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Memory Foam: From NASA to Your Bedroom

September 24, 2015

The next time you buy a memory foam mattress, you might want to think about the history of this peculiarly comfortable material. Did you know that it began as a project for NASA? It was originally created in 1966 by NASA’s Ames Research Center to make aircraft cushions safer. Chiharu Kubokawa and Charles A. Yost were two scientists who contributed greatly to the project. It was originally called “slow spring-back foam.” Yost gave it the name “temper foam” since it was sensitive to temperature.

In later years, Yost collaborated with NASA to found the company Dynamic Systems Inc. to commercialize the foam. He wanted to include it in medical equipment such as X-ray table pads, and also in foot helmet as liners. Over time, the range of memory foam products expanded.

In the early 1980s, NASA finally decided to release memory foam into the public domain. Fagerdala World Foams was one of the few companies that would work with this newcomer to the foam market, since the manufacturing process was unreliable and complicated. In 1991 they released their “Tempur-Pedic Swedish Mattress,” which led to the creation of the company Tempur World.

Memory foam also found use in medical settings, as Yost originally intended. One use was to cushion patients who had to remain bed-bound for a long period. The mattress’ pressure on the body reduced the likelihood of bed sores forming. There have also been claims that memory foam helps to reduce pain caused by Fibromyalgia.

In the beginning, memory foam was too expensive for the general market, though it became cheaper as the manufacturing process became faster and more reliable. Today, you can find memory foam in products like mattresses, blankets, and pillows. Hospitals continue to use it in medical settings, such as in wheelchair seat cushions, hospital bed pillows, and bed padding for patients in chronic pain. For instance, a memory foam pillow could help someone suffering from chronic neck or back pain.

Memory foam certainly has come a way from its beginnings at NASA in 1966. Now we at TheFoamFactory.com are happy to bring it to you!

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