How are mattresses made? A brief description of materials and processes

Sunkist Mattress Filling Machine

How are mattresses made? The answer differs around the world. In this article, Sunkist will walk you through how to make a mattress from a machine maker’s point of view.

To do this, let’s break down mattresses into three major types that we’ve covered here:

polyfoam mattress

Polyfoam refers to standard-grade, non-viscoelastic polyurethane foam. There are two types of polyfoam mattresses: pure foam and innerspring.

Pure foam mattresses are made from only foam and fabric, and are by far the easiest to build. The steps are as follows:

  1. Build or buy a block of flexible foam.
  2. Cut the foam into thick pieces on a horizontal cutting machine.
  3. Insert the piece of foam into the sheet of cloth.

And all! For many places in the world, a slab of flexible foam is a comfortable bed in itself. Manufacturers, then, only need a simple set-up of a batch foaming machine, a cutting machine, and a mattress-filling machine.

Innerspring mattresses are a bit more complicated, though they may still be the cheapest to manufacture by material. Metal wire is coiled and interlocked to establish a frame on which insulation and bedding are faced and sewn, These are your traditional bouncy mattresses found in most corners of the world.

traditional mattress
photo by Haley Owens Feather unsplash

Of course, there’s a science to wirework. Here is a generalized breakdown:

  • Bonnell/Open Coils: Oldest coil style, hourglass, serviceable
  • Offset Coil: Improved Bonnell coil, better to suit body contours
  • Continuous Coil: Cheapest to manufacture, tough
  • Pocketed Coil: Best “point elasticity” to suit body contours

spring coiling

(To learn more, Saatva is a premium mattress manufacturer that offers a Definitive Innerspring Mattress Guide,

memory foam mattress

Viscoelastic’s foaming chemistry is similar to that of standard flexible PU (learn more about it here), with formulations varying at the discretion of the foaming technician. In terms of construction, memory foam is placed on top of other material—often standard polyfoam, sometimes a layer of cooling gel. In many ways, memory foam mattresses don’t differ much from traditional innerspring mattresses.

memory foam

A big difference in what manufacturers consider is in storage and packaging. Foam items are often compressed during transit to save space, but innerspring mattresses will suffer more during compression. Mattress-in-a-box is quite the trend in the bedding world, and while pocketed spring mattresses tend to be compressible, people have complained of a loss of product quality.

Memory foam mattress manufacturers often use not only cutting machines, but punching machines as well. It enhances air flow for heat retention-prone viscoelastic. Environmentally conscious plants also plan for scrap-recycling after the conversion process.

hole-punching machine

latex mattress

Latex can be made from both natural and synthetic chemicals. It can be heavy, so you often see latex mattress toppers instead of full mattresses. It is also more expensive, making latex mattresses more of a luxury segment.

cutting latex mattress

Similar to viscoelastic, a latex mattress usually has small holes around it. However, the purpose of these holes is different. Latex has high thermal resistance, so the spikes are made in the mold itself in order to conduct heat more effectively and vulcanize the latex.

Some other terms to know…

  • Flange Machine: The sides are designed to sew the mattress layers together, which can then be tucked into an innerspring frame.
  • Tape Edge Machine: Designed to seal the edges of the mattress as a last step before completing construction.

So how are mattresses made? On some level, the process looks pretty much the same across the board: Stack a mixture of materials together to maximize structural strength while maintaining comfort. Are you a mattress manufacturer eager to expand your product portfolio? Contact a Sunkist specialist today for a consultation.

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