There are conflicting views on what the end customer wants from flexible polyurethane foam density in soft furnishing and bedding. Jane Denny asked key players to comment on Poland’s density debate.
Dendro’s Michal Soltysinski said the end customer wants softer foam, which is lighter and has led to an overall decrease in volume by weight terms. He said: “Numbers of long blocks and mattresses produced are higher because of different density and types of used foams in the production.
“In the previous collection of IKEA mattresses, which ended in 2014, high resilience (HR) foam – which Soltyskinski said was foam with a density of 35 kg/m3 - accounted for about 40% of total foam production.”
“Standard foam (mostly 35 to 40 kg/m3) accounted for 50% and visco-elastic foam (50 kg/m3) made up about 10%.
But in the new collection, he said, “standard foam is mostly 28 kg/m3 and that now accounts for about 80% of our production, HR accounts for 10% and visco-elastic is still 10% of total foam production too. Thus, generally speaking the total output in terms of weight dropped.”
Meanwhile, Eurofoam’s Alexander Mikolasek said that a lowering of the density of foam “is certainly true for certain parts of the industry” it is not a factor currently impacting his firm’s manufacturing process.
“We cannot confirm this trend. What we see is a stable level. At the same time, the Polish upholstery and bedding industry is upgrading the product portfolio it is using for the export market. This upgrading leads to higher demands of quality foams, which means producing foams with higher densities,” he said.
According to Mikolasek, Poland prefers high resilience foams for the bedding and mattress industry whereas traditionally the demand was for more standard foams. “Customers in Poland want more sophisticated and more comfortable foams. Comfort and durability are key factors now.”
He said: “Very little of the foam produced in Poland leaves the country as just a foam block or roll.”
“It is either sold to other industry or makes its way to the end user across Poland and Europe as an end product for example, in a sofa or a bed, a car seat or some other consumer product. Poland’s own market has grown as consumers demand higher resilience, or put another way, higher luxury from the furniture products it produces for export to the UK and Germany for example.
Polish markets are demanding these qualities too. Visco-elastic foams that are not sensitive to temperature are in high demand.
Organika’s ceo Dariusz Kwiecinski however, said the trend his firm is seeing is for soft foam. “What we see is that customers are looking for more special grades, ie softer foams. I would say there are two trends at the moment and they are to get something that is lighter in weight and cheaper in price.