Environment-Friendly and Highly Functional Cushion Material of Polyester with Durability and Elasticity

Cushion materials are used for a variety of products such as bedding, sofas and vehicle seats. Foamed polyurethane is often used because of its highly cushioning properties, durability and ease to mold. On the other hand, it is not air-permeable and its color yellows easily. Furthermore, it is not friendly to the environment because it is unrecyclable and, in many cases, discarded after use. A material called "kata wata" (hard cotton) is another major general polyester cushion material, but it is less durable and actual use is hampered by many restrictions.

Teijin Fibers Limited has developed high-performance polyester cushion materials "ELK" by combining new polymer technology and fiber-manufacturing technology. "ELK" consists of polyester fiber with a stereoscopic hollow spring structure and a specialized binder fiber with adhesivity and elasticity, is combined to melt their fiber’s crossover parts, resulting in a flexible but firm stereoscopic structure that delivers significant durability and elasticity. In addition, this stereoscopic structure allows air and vapor permeation for higher breathability and moisture permeability than foamed polyurethane. "ELK" is also 20% lighter than the same volume of foamed polyurethane and can be recycled through "ECO CIRCLE", the complete recycling system managed by Teijin Fibers Limited.

"ELK" is in demand for the New Shinkansen Bullet Train

The excellent characteristics of "ELK" have found wide applications such as hospital mattresses and inner materials for brassiere pads, and have been received positively in the market. "ELK" is also used for railway seats as it is flame-retardant and produces less harmful fumes when combusted. Traditionally, foamed polyurethane has been used for railway seats. However, as much attention has recently been attracted on reduction of power consumption and body weight in order to achieve increasing acceleration and recyclability, demand for "ELK" has been increasing. As of today, 20% of the approximately 50,000 passenger carriages operated by Japan Railways Group and private Japanese railway companies feature seats made using "ELK".

Furthermore, Teijin’s composite materials made from "ELK" and "SOLOTEX" based on PTT fiber have been used increasingly in the non-reserved seats installed on the new "N700 Series" shinkansen.

Teijin Fibers Limited exhibited "ELK" at an interior material exhibition for railway cars held in Cologne, Germany November, 2007, for approach of its business expansion into the EU. Teijin Fibers Limited aims to increase sales and enter other market such as automobile and aircraft seats and furniture.