Specifying And Testing For Foam Performance
Industry standards are used to measure and test for the quality, safety, uniformity and performance characteristics of manufactured goods and processes. Standards are developed by industry associations or by consensus standards bodies such as ISO and ASTM, with the participation of engineers, material scientists, ergonomists and testing professionals. Standards produced by such bodies are frequently incorporated into commercial agreements to more precisely specify the expectations of the parties about the goods being purchased.
Standards have also assumed important roles in the legal and regulatory systems. In lawsuits over personal injuries involving products, courts frequently look to standards as a gauge of how a reasonably made product would have performed. Safety regulations developed by government agencies are sometimes based on such standards, with the goal of building on work already done by private sector experts. Following this logic, Congress has directed the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to consider the work of standards bodies when publishing federal product safety regulations or conducting recalls.
Because standards have far-reaching implications, it is critical that the foam industry be at the table when relevant standards are developed or revised. PFA and professionals from its member companies are active participants in a variety of standards organizations, which publish standards governing performance, environmental stewardship, flammability, and other issues.
Flammability standards represent a complex topic that is covered in depth under Flammability.
ASTM International is recognized as a key resource for standard testing procedures for flexible polyurethane foam. ASTM D3574 is the key standard for measuring and evaluating flexible foam properties, including:
- IFD (Indentation force deflection)
- CFD (Compression force deflection)
- Indentation Residual Gage Length
- Compression Sets
- Tensile Strength
- Tear Strength
- Air Flow
- Fatigue (Static, Pounding, Roller Shear, Caster)
- Steam Autoclave
- Heat Aging (Dry and Wet)
- Recovery Test
In addition, there are eighteen other ASTM standards that address specialized properties of flexible polyurethane foam.
An overview of ASTM standards and foam can be found in this video from PFA’s “An Introduction To The Flexible Polyurethane Foam Industry” training series:
Joint Industry Standards
ASTM D3574 was influenced by the work of the Joint Industry Standards Committee. The Committee was formed in 1987 by foam manufacturers, furniture manufacturers, foam fabrications, chemical suppliers, and others to develop flexible polyurethane foam standards for home furnishings. The work of the Joint Industry Standards Committee became the basis of a series of standards that the furniture industry began applying almost immediately. You can read about the history of these standards, plus their applications, here.