Furniture fillings Standards for fitness for purpose

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Technical Committee (TC) 45 has produced many Standards for rubber and rubber products, including ISO 5999:2007. Flexible cellular polymeric materials – Polyurethane foam for load-bearing applications excluding carpet underlay – Specification, ISO 5999, plays a key role in the fitness for purpose of furniture items.

ISO 5999 is a powerful tool for ensuring that substandard materials do not enter the marketplace. It provides broad criteria to support manufacturing specifications, materials sourcing, and design. Integration into the manufacturers' quality control systems can help to maximise consumer satisfaction.

Upholstered furniture and bed matresses represent the main use for flexible polyurethane foam. Suppliers of foam components and furniture manufacturers need material specification parameters to give consumers the kind of durability they expect. Foams undergo some softening and thickness loss during extended use because of physical changes within the cellular network, and the Standard uses these for classification.

Polyurethane foam is available in a wide variety of density variants, typically between 15 – 100 kg/m. It is commonplace for manufacturers to offer each density grade at several different levels of firmness, and to optimise comfort, performance, and cost. Furniture will usually contain a variety of such grades.

Other related Standards include:

  • In-use wear (fatigue) of foams can be stimulated in laboratories by applying ISO 3385:1898, Flexible cellular polymeric materials – Determination of fatigue by constant-load pounding.
  • Indentation hardness is measured using ISO 2439:2008, Flexible cellular polymeric materials – Determination of hardness (indentation technique).
  • ISO 1798:2008 Flexible cellular polymeric materials – Determination of tensile strength and elongation at break
  • ISO 2440:1997 Flexible and rigid cellular polymeric materials – Accelerated ageing tests
  • ISO 1856:2000 Flexible cellular polymeric materials – Determination of compression set

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