For a good night's sleep, the basic necessity remains that of a good quality mattress
. The pre historic man used to pile up leaves, straws, and animal skin to sleep on. These can be called the earliest mattresses. With time, the material that was used to make the mattresses, changed to horse hair, cotton fiber
and rags. In early nineteenth century, many small manufacturers started producing mattresses commercially. They used fabric remnants, discarded by tailors, as stuffings of their mattresses. In mid 19th century, a significant development was made in the form of mattresses with stabilized interior springs. The mattress got firm and resilient with a uniform texture all over. These innerspring mattresses used to be made by placing a set of uniform springs inside the layers of upholstery. After that mattresses just became popular so much so that today they are one of the most important home furnishings
The Modern Mattress
Modern day mattresses are manufactured as per standard sizes. Standardization was done to avoid any dimensional discrepancies that might occur among the bed manufacturing companies and companies that make mattresses. These standard sizes can be categorized as the twin bed mattress that is 39 inches wide and 74 inches long; the double bed mattress which is 54 inches wide and 74 inches long; the queen bed mattress, which is 60 inches wide and 80 inches long; and the king bed mattress with 78 inches width and 80 inches length.
Innerspring- The Basic Unit of Mattress
The core of a mattress is formed by making an innerspring unit. It is a series of wire coils, attached to each other with additional wire. Four types of coils are mostly used by the mattress manufacturers- the Bonnell; the Offset; the Continuous; and the Pocket System. The hourglass-shaped Bonnell springs are knotted at both ends. Offset spring is also in the shape of an hourglass but its top and bottom are flattened so as to facilitate a hinging action among the coils. Continuous innerspring is one very long strand of steel wire configured into S-shaped units. Pocket coil is encased in a fabric
which also connects it to the adjoining coil-casing units.
A mattress can have anywhere between 250 and 1,000 coil springs. In the mattresses that have fewer coils, a heavier gauge of wire has to be used. The individual coils can be attached in a variety of ways. One general method is that of using helicals- the corkscrew-shaped wires which run along the top and bottom of the springs, lacing the coils together. Rigid border wires are also attached sometimes around the perimeters for stabilizing the innerspring unit.
The Manufacturing Process
In most of the cases, a mattress manufacturer do not make the innerspring units. The work is outsourced and these units are made by the specialized firms. Once these completed innerspring units are received, the work of at the mattress factory begins.
Innerspring- The Basic Unit of Mattress
- The textile furnishing layers are affixed to the innerspring manually. There are essentially two upholstery layers- the insulator and the cushioning layers. The insulator, is affixed directly onto the innerspring and prevents the next layer, the cushioning layer, from molding to the coils. While the insulator used is almost standard, the number of cushioning layers differ widely in number. These cushioning layers range from 2 to 8 layers and from 1/4 inch to 2 inches (.63 to 5 cm) in thickness. These cushioning layers determine the feel and comfort of the end product.
The core mattress is given an attractive exterior by decorative mattress cover. The cover is manufactured with the help of giant quilting machines having a multitude of needles that stitch the cover to a layer of backing material.
- The quilted fabric is cut into panels that are attached to the top and bottom of the mattress. The side panels are often cut from the same quilted fabric but sometimes it is made separately on a border machine. Side handles or Vents, if they have to be fitted to the side panels, are attached before these side panels are applied to the mattress.
- Flanges are the connecting panels that are attached to the quilted cover of the mattress with the help of hogs rings which are large, round staples. The flanges are attached to the top and bottom panels with the help of a specially modified sewing machine and the hogs rings are stapled to the flanges. During the closing operation, the hogs rings are secured to the innerspring unit.
- Closing operation is very critical which needs highly skilled execution. A movable sewing head that is mounted on a track is used for the closing operation. The Tape edge operators manually feed the top, bottom, and side panels and a heavy duty binding tape into the sewing machine as it moves around the mattress. It highly depends on the skill of the operators to feed just the right amount of each material into the machine in order to get the end product of a professional standard.
Some of very high quality mattresses may also have a pillowtop on them. A panel filled with soft upholstery is attached to the top panel of the mattress. Prequilted Pillow top is, then, taped to the mattress.
A foundation mattresses or boxsprings lie directly beneath the mattress, resting on the frame of the bed. There are different varieties of boxsprings. In some of them, spiked coil configuration is used where there is a spring system while in others, torsion bars are used for giving support. In yet another type of boxspring, no springs at all are used and it consists of a built-up wooden frame. From among these, the boxsprings having spiked coil design are the most common ones.
The spiked coil design boxspring is made by attaching the bottom of each coil to a flat wooden frame. A wire grid is placed on top of the springs in an aligned manner and is locked manually. A thin layer of upholstery is attached at the top. If, however, the intended boxspring contains no springs, it consists of a wooden frame that may or may not have a layer of upholstery attached to its top. The frame is usually inserted into a pre-sewn cover that encases the top and sides of the unit, regardless of the internal composition. A matching fabric border is applied to the sides, and a dust cover is also added to the face.