Polyurethane foam technology from BASF Corp., Mount Olive, N.J. (www.basf.com/usa), may obsolete metal furniture springs. The firm's Micro-Springs technology is used to make a one-piece drop-in unit consisting of millions of tiny polymer springs. It is said to deliver the same comfort, feel, and durability as furniture made with conventional, eightway, hand-tie metal spring systems.

“Removing metal springs that are installed by hand helps our furniture manufacturers cut costs, improve production efficiency, and avoid repetitive hand injuries from traditional metal spring processes,” says Chris Bradley of North Carolina Foam Industries (NCFI), Mount Airy, N.C. (www.ncfi.com). Bradley also claims this new technology will help U.S. furniture makers better compete with Asian imports because of the reduction in costs and increase in value.

“Product analyses to test the performance of the Micro-Springs foam and conventional spring system were based on hysteresis resiliency evaluations, which measure durability and feel,” says Todd Green, Product Manager for flexible foams unit of BASF's urethane chemicals business. “A low percentage of hysteresis loss is the desired result, with the ideal level being zero,” he adds.

According to Green, the hysteresis loss curve of the Micro-Spring polyurethane foam basically matched the results of conventional handtied spring and foam units. “The efficiency, economy, and worker safety benefits of converting to springless furniture do not come at the expense of the durability and feel consumers demand in quality furniture,” adds Green.