Leverkusen, Germany - Walking on Bayer MaterialScience's new viscoelastic carpet, based on polyurethane foams and a special textile fabric, "feels like walking over soft moss," the company claims. This is because the foam is designed to be compressed underfoot, but only to a certain depth.
"The foam surrounds the foot and gives it a firm grip. This results in a completely new feeling, whether you are walking, standing or indeed sitting on the carpet," according to BMS flexible foam expert Manfred Naujoks.
Applications include those needing high comfort with reduced strain on joints and limbs, in sports uses, the workplace and physiotherapy -- in gyms or at supermarket checkouts, for example, BMS notes.
Tohelp the innovation gain a foothold on the market with some unusualdesigns, BMS chose floorwear specialist kymo GmbH in Karlsruhe.
Kymo's new product also has promise in rooms used by young children or the elderly, where injuries from falls could be significantly reduced. It may also be possible to create mobile modular seating. Also, the PU foam gives excellent insulating properties that help save heating energy as well as damping impact and airborne noise.
"In kymo, we have found a partner that has helped several new carpet materials achieve market success with its fresh, avant-garde design ideas, making it one of Germany's leading high-end manufacturers of floorwear for both domestic use and prestigious commercial and public buildings," said Naujoks, in a 12 January company statement.
Kymo sees Bayer MaterialScience's extensive polymer know-how as an advantage. "With this expertise behind us, we can think outside the box when developing design concepts for viscoelastic carpets and focus our full attention on our real strength, namely developing original and well thought-out designs," said Denis Türker, managing director of kymo, in BMS's statement.
The young company will unveil the first viscoelastic carpet, called PURE MOSS, as part of its experimental range at the international furnishing show "imm cologne" in January 2010 in Cologne.
The new carpet is in four layers. The top layer is a bi-elastic knitted fabric with a soft, long-pile texture. Below this is the viscoelastic polyurethane and underneath that a rebonded foam made from recycled polyurethane. The bottom layer in contact with the floor is a thin reinforcing fabric that stabilises the entire structure and protects the other layers from tensile forces.
BMS says the two foam layers have very different hardnesses. The very soft viscoelastic foam allows the foot to sink in, but the far-harder rebonded foam stops the compression at a specific depth, so the entire foam structure is not fully compressed.
Thanks to the way the bi-elastic fabric acts, the foam only gives way directly under the foot and not in the surrounding area, BMS pointed out.