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Commercial upholstery - planes, trains and automobiles
The commercial upholstery market is big business, and unsurprisingly, foam contributes a huge part to the success of the sector. From the aviation industry to other modes of public transportation such as buses and trains, there is a huge demand for foam supply in a commercial capacity. With the polyurethane foam market expected to hit $79 billion by 2023, we expect that big growth and change is set to revolutionise the way in which commercial organisations use foam.
At present, the commercial travel industry almost wholly relies on supplies of Severe - or very firm - foam, which is best suited to seating applications that endure constant usage. Longer lasting and hard wearing, its high density provides durable comfort for passengers using modes of public transport. However, the demand for foam in the commercial sector is also driven by applications other than passenger seating.
Polyurethane foam is also used in the transport industry for headrests, trimming, air conditioning filters and acoustic insulation, and these foams are required to undergo specific testing to comply with both regulatory and emissions standards. As our attitudes towards emissions and our global footprint begin to rapidly change, it's likely that the types and standards of foam used in these applications will gradually be subject to different requirements, and as such, will need to undergo various new methods of testing and development to reach updated environmental and usage standards.
When considering the future of foam material in commercial industry, it's also interesting to reflect on how foam is set to be used in future car production. At present, flexible foams are commonly used in the automotive sector to ensure that manufacturers solve issues relating to fuel efficiency, durability, weight and vibration. However, in light of recent news from car manufacturer Subaru, who have announced that they are set to take a greater interest in specialist waterproof upholstery for their cars, we are gradually beginning to see how customer expectations and demands are now beginning to influence the choices made by organisations when selecting materials - right from fabric to foam inserts.
With this in mind, we can rightfully expect to see the sector plough more funds into further research and development of foam materials. As we continue to see the combination of higher customer expectations and environmental concerns come into play, Subaru's changes are just the latest example of change that can be driven by a combination of both of these both factors. In fact, Subaru have taken their first leap towards better environmental practices - all by ensuring that their new upholstery doesn't include polyvinyl chloride, phthalate or chlorine, and does contain 25% recycled material.
At eFoam, we supply a range of commercial customers with various types of foam, and as a company, we're placed at the forefront of industry change. For example, there has been a significant cultural shift in the aviation sector, particularly in terms of commercial air travel and airfreight in the form of shipping containers. Following the tragic events of 9/11, most airlines are now using explosive-proof containers that are heavy, and therefore, additional components such as foam inserts that are supplied by us are required to be lighter in weight - without compromising on quality or function.
Without a doubt, as research and innovation into foam development continues, we're sure to see further change and development set to come our way.