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Innovative bed manufacturing and new product development

Connect, no. 164, January/February 2010, p.1

A sample of an ultrasonically welded mattress top design, replacing a 'tufting' manufacturing process
A sample of an ultrasonically welded mattress top design, replacing a 'tufting' manufacturing process

Joanna Lewis of TWI is working on a two year Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) project on joining technologies for the largest UK bed manufacturer, Silentnight Beds, in Barnoldswick, Lancashire.

Partially funded by the UK's Technology Strategy Board (TSB), this type of project aims to provide British companies with access to cutting edge technology while offering career development to the associate.

The research provider, TWI, provides the KTP associate with advisors and full access to the technologies and laboratory facilities in Cambridge.

Lewis explains, 'Silentnight Beds provides a commercial mentor, a contribution to the cost of the project and, crucially, a real world industrial need. In this case I will be working to revolutionise the bed industry, developing innovative joining technology specifically in the textile joining and polymer joining aspects of bed design'.

Bed manufacture is based on traditional materials and methods using stitching, stapling, adhesives and other mechanical fastenings as the joining methods.

There is great potential to reduce costs and increase productivity by introducing high speed textile welding methods such as ultrasonic and laser welding combined with automation and robotic manipulation for many of the tasks.

New materials are also being investigated to reduce waste, enable recycling, end of product life disassembly and to assist with the manufacturing developments.

Progress in the project to date, includes a range of new product concepts, textile joining trials, joining process selection, initial prototypes and the design specification for new textile welding technology to be introduced at a high manufacturing level within Silentnight Beds' current manufacturing system.

If you would like more information about this project or the KTP scheme, please contact jo.lewis@twi.co.uk

silentnight_logo.jpg

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