How Are Inflatable Mattress Made

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How Mattresses Are Made

This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation

Mattress construction from the inside-out

If reading about mattress construction sounds like a real, ahem, snooze, know this: The way a mattress is made determines how it feels. And how a mattress feels may be the difference between a fitful night and peaceful slumber!

The Big Picture

Two basic types of mattress make up the vast majority of the market: They’re called innerspring and memory foam. Made of steel coils, innerspring is, by far, the most common type. Memory foam, on the other hand, is made from polyurethane or latex foam, and is very dense foam. Memory foam is usually more expensive than innerspring.

Inside an Innerspring Mattress

Coils determine how much support (suspension versus springiness) the mattress will give. Manufacturers may use different types of coil shapes and structures, as well as different amounts of spacing and patterns to affect comfort. The next layer, top padding, isusually made from polyurethane foam. The outer layer (or ticking) is the material bound to the top padding with stitching. The way that ticking and top padding are attached influences the mattress’s overall feel. Large, wide patterns will create a cushioned feel, which smaller patterns feel tighter and firmer. Generally, the more coils an innerspring mattress contains, the more comfortable it’s bound to be—but if the number of coils is over 390, then you’re not likely to notice the difference, so don’t bother paying extra.

Inside a Memory Foam Mattress

Especially attractive to people with chronic pain conditions, memory foam mattresses consist of, essentially, very dense foam. When you lie on a foam mattress, your body heat softens the material, allowing it to “mold” to your body. One big advantage: In bigger beds, a memory foam mattress won’t shift as much as an innerspring when one partner turns or moves. So if you’re often disturbed by your partner’s tossing and turning in the middle of the night, it might be time to invest in a memory foam mattress. But one con: Because these mattresses mold to your body, they can absorb a lot of heat and make you feel hotter while you sleep. Some people also complain that they have a chemical smell.

How Are Air Mattresses Made?

Air mattresses offer an affordable bedding solution for millions of people all over the world. From camping to other outdoor activities, lots of people are able to enjoy nature thanks to these mattresses.

They are equally great for sleeping indoors whether you have kids coming over or family on their way. even if you have the worst inflatable mattress in the world.

This is why these types of mattresses inevitably pop up in the minds of consumers as soon as they think of temporary bedding.

So, how are inflatable mattresses made? What kind of materials go into the manufacture of these units?

If you have been getting quality use out of your mattress then you’d probably want to know how they are manufactured.

Even if you have never owned one of these mattresses, it still pays to know.

Stick around as we go through some of the materials that go into the manufacture of these portable mattresses.

Who knows? This may help point you in the right direction the next time you decide to shop for an air mattress.

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is one of the most popular materials in the airbed industry. If you have been doing a little bit of research on these units then you may have come across some popular models manufactured from this material.

While lots of affordable mattresses are manufactured with PVC, it is not uncommon to find some high-end models made from it too.

Advantages of PVC Air Beds​

There are lots of advantages you stand to gain from mattresses manufactured by PVC. Here are a few of them.

Waterproof

One of the main reasons for the popularity of PVC the waterproof capabilities. Mattresses made with this material give you a waterproof surface to enjoy your sleep.

The fact that inflatable mattresses are waterproof unlike regular ones makes it suitable for the needs of many consumers. While regular beds can get wet when water or another liquid spills on it, inflatable ones have been traditionally different.

Waterproofing comes in handy in blowup medical mattresses and those relied upon by the bed-ridden.

Low Maintenance

When shopping for an airbed, it is important to choose one that is low maintenance. We live in an era where everyone is extremely busy so you wouldn’t want to waste time keeping your mattress in good shape.

This is what gives PVC an edge over the other materials used in the airbed manufacturing industry. It requires no need for washing, drying, and any of those tedious activities.

However, if you insist oncleaning your mattressperiodically then you can simply get it done with a piece of washcloth and water.

This is another advantage these mattresses have over regular ones.

​Fire Resistant

While most regular mattresses are unable to withstand fires, this is a problem PVC airbeds do not have. Manufacturers apply specific chemicals on the surface of these airbeds to ensure their ability to stay in their original physical condition even when exposed to fire.

This feature is especially handy because non-PVC air mattresses are mostly manufactured from plastic or other materials which crumble when exposed to fire.

Cheap Manufacturing Process

One of the reasons why air mattresses have become so popular is the fact that they are significantly inexpensive. Industry experts have revealed that manufacturing them with PVC comes at significantly lower costs when compared to the others.

Industry players are therefore able to make their product lines available to consumers at affordable prices. You definitely do not have to break the bank in order to get a quality inflatable mattress.

Disadvantages

As expected, there are some drawbacks that come with inflatable mattresses manufactured from PVC. Here are a few of those:

Toxic Material

PVC is far from the cleanest material in the inflatable mattress manufacturing industry. In fact, this plastic has been found to be toxic and harmful to the environment in so many ways.

Vinyl chloride, a sub-component of the material results from the combination of plastic and petroleum.

Production causes the release of toxic chemicals into the environment. If you are green-conscious then you may have to look for one manufactured from alternative materials.

Less Comfortable

It is no secret that PVC is a plastic material. It is quite hard in its basic form meaning it doesn’t make the most suitable sleeping surface. Some additional chemicals are added during the manufacturing process to soften and make it more comfortable.

Phtalates are the most popular chemical added to PVC to make it soft during the manufacturing process.

This chemical can be absorbed into the skin while you are sleeping. It has been linked with severe medical conditions such including cancer and asthma.

Other Manufacturing Materials Used in Air Mattresses

Textile-reinforced urethane and rubber are alternate materials used in the manufacturing of airbeds. They are quite popular and usually found in some of the high-end models available for sale.

Advantages

Here are a few advantages of going in for an airbed manufactured from rubber and textile-reinforced urethane.

Thicker and Puncture-Resistant

The advantage of textile reinforced urethane is they are more puncture-resistant and thicker than PVC. This means that buying a mattress made from one of these gives you more comfort and durability.

The advantage of textile reinforced urethane is they are more puncture-resistant and thicker than PVC. This means that buying a mattress made from one of these gives you more comfort and durability.

True, there may be lots of ways to fix punctures in your mattress. However, how would you feel about having a mattress with minimal risk of puncturing in the first place?

Absence of Phtalates

Thermoplastic urethane airbeds contain no phthalates. You can therefore sleep on them without risk of developing any medical issues. These mattresses typically come with no odors, which is another problem arising out of phthalates.

Disadvantages

The main disadvantage of choosing an airbed manufactured from thermoplastic urethane is the expense. The high cost of manufacture means they are relatively more expensive than models from PVC.

The Verdict

We hope you have learned a few things about the manufacturing process of air mattresses and are in a better position to make a sound choice.

If you want something environmentally friendly and willing to pay the full cost then thermo urethane is a good choice. Rubber is another great choice if your budget is not too tight.

On the other hand, PVC mattresses hit you less in the wallet and are great for consumers with low budgets.

Materials used for air mattress production – (TPU vs. vinyl) how to eliminate the risk completely 2

What are air mattresses made of?

Air mattresses are traditionally made of PVC (vinyl), which is a kind of plastic and usually include come with flocked top with a velvet-like quality to it.

Potential hazards of the PVC used in air mattresses
and what you can do be absolutely safe

PVC used in air mattresses has to abide by certain material safety standards set by the government and international agencies like the ASTM,but there is a problem here not many people are talking about.

The standards set so far for air mattress production
cover the chemicals that WE KNOW are toxic, like phthalates.

Some of the chemicals that used to be used in the production of vinyl airbeds are since proven to be toxic and especially harmful for children.

These chemicals were not covered by the production standards in the past and WE DON’T KNOW if at some point the chemicals currently uses in the production are also toxic.

Here’s what you can you do if you need an air mattress
but want to eliminate all the risk.

Simple – get a PVC-free air mattress

It seem like you have no choices and you are the health-conscious buyer (like you should be, especially if you have kids around) you are stuck.

You are not and there are choices out there, choices we keep track of and constantly update this page. Their advantages are not limited to safety.

These are the PVC-airbeds we can stand behind and recommend

ModelCurrent
ratings
(out of 10)
Material
(out of 10)
Amazon ratings & Price Comparison link

See the
Lightspeed TPU 2
on Amazon here >>

TPU
PVC-free


See the
Kelty Sleep Eazy
on Amazon here >>

TPU
PVC-free


See the
Aerobed Pakmat
on Amazon here >>

TPU
PVC-free


See the
Elevated EcoLite Elevated
on Amazon here >>

TPU
PVC-free


See the
ALPS Velocity
on Amazon here >>

TPU
PVC-free

We currently keep tabs on just over 200 air mattress models,
and update out guides on bimonthly basis –
which means that you can trust the information on
PVC-free air mattress
above to be fresh and relevant.

Advantages of a PVC-free air mattress:

  • All the risk of breathing in vinyl off-gassing eliminated, both for you and(especially important)
  • PVC-free air mattresses are more durable than regular airbeds, since fabric does not stretch as much
  • Do not have that bouncy “airbed-feel” to them which comes from the stretchy vinyl. If you ever owned a PVC airbed you know what we’re talking about.

Reference info and a few words about me

TPU vs. vinyl air mattress or sleeping pad

What are airbeds made of – PVC vs. PVC-free air mattresses and pads, vinyl vs. rubber (rubberized cotton) air mattresses

The non-PVC of PVC-free air mattresses we listed above are often refereed to rubber air mattresses or rubberized cotton airbeds, because that’s what the material feels like.

The terms are not really precise, these mattresses are not made from rubber (or rubberized cotton) but from a material called TPU.

What is TPU airbed if not regular rubber or cotton?

TPU stands for T hermoplastic Polyurethane and it’s a mixture of hard plastic and soft silicone, which makes it extremely durable. If I tell that this is the materials cell-helmet cases for your phone are made of that should explain just how durable and resistant to stress TPU is.

That’s what makes the PVC-free air mattresses more durable, more puncture resistant and safer than regular airbeds.

Who made me the expert on air mattress materials and PVC-free air mattresses

OK, bragging time…I hold a degree in Materials Technology Engineering from the University of Michigan In Ann Arbor and I’ve been a life-long zealot for the outdoors.

Now, in my bear-belly years, what used to be just a passion for gear turned into full-time work, researching, testing and reviewing the best air mattress.

I’ve learned a lot over the years, and I use these article forms to share my precious experience with the potential users of anything inflatable. I try to share you all the good sides of a certain product or industry in general, but also all the bad sides ad thing the manufacturers will try to hide from you. And, since I know exactly what I’m talking about, I would say you’ve come to the right place with all your questions concerning air mattress materials.

If you’re on board with the way I do things and with my way of thinking just read on. I promise a great deal of useful information in exchange for your time.

Its majesty – PVC

PVC or polyvinyl chloride is a type of material you’ll generally encounter a lot during your excursions in the air mattress land.

It is used to this extent for a couple of reasons:

  • It provides a waterproof surface. Yes, this is one of its benefits of course. Air mattresses pride themselves in being waterproof, which certainly gives them an advantage over your regular, everyday mattress. It protects your mattress from any kinds of spilling accidents, and it is an especially useful feature in medical air mattress, made for your home care patients.
  • It’s a material that’s very low-maintenance. There’s no washing it, drying it and all that hassle. Once you want to undergo the process of cleaning the PVC air mattress, you can simply arm yourself with a washcloth and some water, and you’re good to go. It’s one more advantage the air mattress has over the regular one.
  • It’s fire-retardant. There is a certain chemical compound that’s applied to the surface of the mattress in order to make it fireproof. Air mattresses are always made out of some form of plastic or rubber material, so this one is actually a must-have when you think of it a bit. We’ll talk about these chemicals later.
  • It’s relatively cheap to make. PVC makes the air manufacturing process costs pretty low, so it’s no wonder the manufacturers are using it so heavily.

Now that we’ve seen some of the reasons PVC is so popular we can see some of the hazards you need to be mindful of:

  • This material is deemed to be somewhat toxic and under the category of environmentally unfriendly plastics. An intermediate component on the road of PVC production that’s called vinyl chloride is combining chloride and petroleum, posing a threat due to its potential carcinogenic features.
  • PVC is plastic that much we know. What we don’t know is how hard it is in its basic state. The answer is, too hard to comfortably sleep on. That calls for addition of some chemical plasticizers that will increase its softness and flexibility. The plasticizers that are most commonly used are called phthalates.
  • They take up a large percentage of the mattress’s overall weight. They don’t get bound to the vinyl itself, so they can escape the mattress, whether in liquid or a gas form. The sleeper can then absorb them through the skin or by breathing them in. They can cause cancer, asthma and all other sorts of maladies.

Those are the known hazards that we should keep in mind once we decide to go shopping. I must add that I, personally don’t have any confirmation of anyone actually suffering a certain disease due to its mattress, but I like to point out that the possibility is there none the less.

Other choices – TPU (aka. rubber air mattress aka. rubberized cotton)

Other than PVC you can go for an air mattress made of rubber or textile-reinforced urethane, which we presented above. As we mentioned, they are the better options for everyday use.

The one material I’d like to point out here is called TPU (thermoplastic urethane). It’s much lighter than PVC and contains no phthalates. Phthalates are also responsible for that characteristic odor you smell once you unpack your new air mattress. It’s very elastic, strong and abrasion and puncture-resistant. It’s certainly a better way to go than your classic PVC mattress. But, on the other hand, it’s also less budget-friendly.

There is a general consensus that food grade polyethylene is by far the safest form of plastic. It doesn’t contain phthalates or any other additives that might prove to be unsafe.

Conclusion

I hope we learned a few things today when it comes to safety of the compounds used in the product of an air mattress, and I’m sure you’ll have a whole different way of looking at the inflatable products from now on. The point of this article was not to scare you, far from it. It was all about getting you to buy products that are top of the line quality-wise, yet still very affordable.

Inflatable mattresses are not all safe but also not all potentially dangerous. You just need to know the difference. I believe it’s fair to say that now you do.

How Mattresses Are Made

This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation

Mattress construction from the inside-out

If reading about mattress construction sounds like a real, ahem, snooze, know this: The way a mattress is made determines how it feels. And how a mattress feels may be the difference between a fitful night and peaceful slumber!

The Big Picture

Two basic types of mattress make up the vast majority of the market: They’re called innerspring and memory foam. Made of steel coils, innerspring is, by far, the most common type. Memory foam, on the other hand, is made from polyurethane or latex foam, and is very dense foam. Memory foam is usually more expensive than innerspring.

Inside an Innerspring Mattress

Coils determine how much support (suspension versus springiness) the mattress will give. Manufacturers may use different types of coil shapes and structures, as well as different amounts of spacing and patterns to affect comfort. The next layer, top padding, isusually made from polyurethane foam. The outer layer (or ticking) is the material bound to the top padding with stitching. The way that ticking and top padding are attached influences the mattress’s overall feel. Large, wide patterns will create a cushioned feel, which smaller patterns feel tighter and firmer. Generally, the more coils an innerspring mattress contains, the more comfortable it’s bound to be—but if the number of coils is over 390, then you’re not likely to notice the difference, so don’t bother paying extra.

Inside a Memory Foam Mattress

Especially attractive to people with chronic pain conditions, memory foam mattresses consist of, essentially, very dense foam. When you lie on a foam mattress, your body heat softens the material, allowing it to “mold” to your body. One big advantage: In bigger beds, a memory foam mattress won’t shift as much as an innerspring when one partner turns or moves. So if you’re often disturbed by your partner’s tossing and turning in the middle of the night, it might be time to invest in a memory foam mattress. But one con: Because these mattresses mold to your body, they can absorb a lot of heat and make you feel hotter while you sleep. Some people also complain that they have a chemical smell.

How are inflatable mattress made

Inflatable 101

If you are new to inflatable, the following will be of some help for you to get some basic understanding of inflatable products.

Inflatable technology is simple and complicated. It is a combination of art, design and engineering production. Generally, inflatable can be divided into two major types, air-tight and non-airtight.

For air-tight products, once they are inflated, they will keep the shape for a certain period of time without the help of an air blower. Most of inflatable toys like swimming floating devices, and beach balls, etc. are all air-tight products. For air-tight products, high frequency welding is the most common way to put fabric together and create a smooth whole piece. High end air tight inflatable, such as water raft, use glue instead of welding, providing stronger bond and durability.

Due to the limitation of welding machine, the size is critical in air-tight products. Small size product can get excellent air-tight result and will last very long time once inflated. However, it will be difficult to make the big size products air-tight and it may not last inflated very long. All air-tight products need mold and machine set up.

For non-airtight products, sewing and patching is the common way to finish the job. All non-airtight products need a air blower to blow it up and keep blowing to maintain the shape. Non-airtight products are labor intensive job especially for those giant inflatables. All pieces can only be stitched together manually. But a good advantage of non-airtight is that it is suitable for small job but in big size, such as inflatable bouncers and advertising inflatables, etc.

In addition, printing is a very important component of all inflatable products. Inflatable can only create the general shape, but prints and art work can present detail and art work.

Material for Inflatable

Inflatable products use all kinds of fabrics. No matter what kind of fabrics they are, they have the following characteristics: durable enough for specific inflatable and general/specific usage, appropriate melting point for air-tight products, and good air-tight characters to hold pressure inside, etc.

Generally, inflatable fabrics are all PVC material or PVC/PU coated nylon material. Its thickness starts from 0.18MM to 1.00MM or thicker. But most of fabric will fall within this range. For example, most air-tight inflatable toys are made of 0.18MM or 0.24MM PVC, while inflatable bouncers and jumping houses use 0.50-0.60MM PVC/PU coated material.

If it is non-airtight inflatable, then the fabric has more choices, from nylon fabric to mesh reinforced, PVC or PU coated fabric. Non air-tight can also use a mixture of several kind of fabrics to make colorful inflatables.

Beside fabrics, air blower is another part of whole complete set. Air blower can be gas-powered or electric-powered. The power of air blower depends on the size of inflatable. Generally, the bigger the inflatable is, the more power air blower is needed to blow it up and keep it shape. Also air blower can be internal or external. Some small inflatable may come with internal air blower, so you just need to plug and play and get the inflatable set up in couple of minutes.

Limitation of Inflatable

Inflatable products do have many advantages such as easy to set up, easy to clean and maintain, convenient to store and move around, etc. But it also comes with several cons:

Limited shape – inflatable can not have right corner like hard material. Due to even pressure inside the inflatable and soft fabric, all corners will be rounded by the pressure. Also for the same reason, the inflatable will be hard to have flat surface, because inside pressure will pop up. You can have relative flat surface, but can’t be flat like a wood or metal surface.

Limited detail – inflatable can only generate the outline and shape of the products but it can’t be as detailed as a piece of carved artwork. A lot of details will need to be added by painting. Even in this way, inflatable can only give you something of a "look like", especially in small/detail area.

Limited size – for air-tight products, due to limit of welding machine, the size of air-tight product is limited.

Cost to make inflatable

There are several factors affecting the cost of an inflatable:

Quantity – quantity is the most important factor in most of inflatables, especially those small size products. Fixed cost of each batch process plus tooling fee and molding will make small quantity job very expensive.

Fabric – fabric is another factor in the total product cost. Generally the thicker the fabric, the higher the cost.

Air blower – air blower costs lot of money in all non-airtight inflatable products. The cost range if from $100 to $700 depending on your needs.

Labor – labor is a major cost component for all inflatable. Since most of inflatable is manually stitched/sewed and/or glued/welded, it needs lot of working hours plus painting and art work to finish a job. Some complicated jobs requiring lot of detailed art work will definitely cost more.

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