Architectural Arts: The House that Polyurethane Built

xanadu foam houseOne night, you dreamt that you were in an unfamiliar place — one that is entirely different from your home. You think you saw what seemed like a historic hotel mattress on one of the room’s beds. You suddenly got confused as you touched a part of the wall and you felt your hand sink a little in it. Looking around, you realize that the entire house is made of foam! Before you can even go further into it, you’re awakened by the nasty sound of your alarm clock.

Apparently, dreams do come true—there is a true-to-life house made of polyurethane insulation foam in the United States! The Xanadu Houses, built many times in different areas, have been obsolete for quite a long time now but are still popular. Though they are not anymore used for tourist attraction or residential purposes, the Xanadu house concept is very much alive.

History of the Xanadu Houses

The Xanadu Houses were a series of experimental houses built by Bob Masters. It is a white, domed structure built completely from insulating polyurethane foam.

Before the Xanadu House concept was conceived, Bob Masters designed and created inflatable balloons that were used for house construction. He was inspired by one of the first homes built from insulation by an architect named Stan Nord Connolly—the Kesinger House in Denver, Colorado. Masters went to work and built his first balloon constructed house, sprayed with polyurethane insulation foam.

He then decided to build a series of show homes across the United States, believing that his foam house construction could work well for others. “Xanadu” was coined by Masters’ business partner, Tom Gussell. He was referring to the Xanadu, the summer capital in Yuan, which appeared in a poem called Kubla Khan. Henceforth, the first Xanadu show house opened in Wisonsin, designed by architect Stewart Gordon and built by Bob Masters.

However, the most famous Xanadu house is the one located in Kissimmee, Florida, designed by architect Roy Mason.

xanadu house

The Popularity of the Xanadu House

When the second show house was built, Mason and Masters focused on ergonomics and energy efficiency. They took inspiration from other experimental houses designed by other architects such as the detachable buildings of Kisho Kurokawa, the floating habitat by Jacques Beufs, and the underwater living by Jacques Rougerie.

Mason wanted the Xanadu House to alter people’s views of houses. According to him, houses should not be viewed as merely protection against elements. “No one’s really looked at the house as a total organic system. The house can have intelligence and each room can have intelligence”.

So in 1983, Mason and Masters opened their futuristic Xanadu House to visitors. Commodore computers were used to run the rooms – a robot voice like that of the fictional HAL greets visitors in “the home of the future”.

The house brought in 1, 000 visitors a day, and then a third Xanadu house was built in Gatlinburg Tennessee.

The Inevitable Demise

A few years later, the technology of the Xanadu Houses quickly became obsolete, resulting to the demolition of the Wisconsin and Tennessee houses; however, the Kissimmee house continued operation until finally being closed down in 1996, became infested with mold, and was finally torn down in 2005.

Even before the Xanadu houses, architects and futurologists have tried cooking up designs of a home that can adapt to the ever changing world that we live in. Perhaps we do get to live underwater in the year 3000, or maybe refine the Xanadu House concept to suit the lives of people constantly bombarded by storm.

One thing is for sure, though: more “homes of the future” designs will come, and it is almost certain that polyurethane foam will still play an important role.

Backtracking Memory Lane in Comfort: The Evolution of Automotive Cushioning

vintage car

One of the important characteristics car owners, enthusiasts, manufacturers look for in a car is comfort. And one of the things in an automobile that provides this are its seats. After all, this is where the drivers and the passengers will be sitting for the duration of the travel.

With today’s polyurethane foam technology, car seats can even be more comfortable than a sofa bed. However, that wasn’t always the case. If you’re curious how it felt like to sit inside a car many decades ago, then read up.

The Horseless Carriage

The Karl Benz car, the world’s first petroleum-based fuel vehicle, was invented in 1885. Its looks are definitely a far cry from today’s sleek, high-speed sedans, as it was basically just a leather bench with three bicycle wheels.

The seat, which is made of leather, sat atop springs mounted directly on the car frame. This, of course, offered comfort, but it surely made the customer feel every bump on the road the car will encounter.

Early Cars in the Early 20th Century

During the early 20th century, cars have become the main mode of transportation, making the horse-pulled carriage uncommon, if not completely antiquated.

In the span of forty years since its invention, the car has improved much greatly, resembling more closely how it looks today. And if its interior has improved, then so have its upholstery.

Different materials were being tested and used – cloth, duck, sheeting, cambric, muslin, buckram, webbing, cotton wadding, feathers, top materials, slip cover materials, cords, and bindings, just to name a few.

driving in car

The Tough 30’s

In just ten years, latex foam rubber, a material that was considered revolutionary for its time had been commercialized and used in different fields, including the automobile industry. It was tough yet comfortable to sit on, making it seem almost like the car seats we have today – except they’re a little more uncomfortable and not as tough. Still, it’s notably resilient, and the only thing that usurped it is polyurethane foam.

Polyurethane Foam: The 50’s Until Today

In 1957, the usual material that is used for cushioning is the latex foam rubber, thanks to its tenacity. However, it lost its crown when it was pitted against polyurethane foam, the material which we now know and use in many automobile-related applications and constructs such as seats, steering wheel, and coatings.

Unlike latex foam rubber, polyurethane foam bottoms out far less often when stressed, and its force deflection is far superior is far superior to latex foam rubber. Another advantage polyurethane foam has over latex foam rubber is that it is a lot more resistant to UV exposure, with latex foam rubber cracking after a prolonged time. And lastly, polyurethane foam is a lot more resistant to oxidation.

Many years passed, and polyurethane foam is still the main material used in automobile seating, and rightfully so. It’s resilient, light, and resilient. So, is it still going to be the most favored material when it comes to making car seats? Only time will tell.

6 Ways Monoblock Chairs can Help in Daily Life

monoblock chair

The monoblock chair has become a staple in almost every corner. You can see ‘em beside hospital beds, in gardens and in wedding venues. Here are six ways monoblock chairs can help in your daily doings.

In case of emergency

We hope you did not envision an ambulance when you read emergency chairs as we are definitely not pertaining to ‘em! You see, sometimes you invite people to your home and there are cases wherein the chairs are simply not enough and people are forced to sit on the floor. Luckily, there are monoblock chairs in store! You definitely will not have any problem when it comes to storage as these are stackable so the space occupied by many chairs can be equivalent to just one..

At the Beach

Surf, sand and sun. These are the essentials to enjoy a day at a beach. Monoblock chairs are useful because they won’t get dirty from the sand, they’re easy to clean, and won’t easily be damaged from the sea air. Additionally, these chairs won’t sink that far into the sand that you will have to grab a shovel and dig it out. In fact, in most cases it does not even sink at all which is why it is the top choice of many restaurants on the beach.

To lounge outdoors

On a hot summer day, nothing pleases you more than to just sit under the cooling shade of a tree and enjoy a glass of iced tea along with a good book. But when the rainy season comes along… oh man! Your chairs! Won’t they get ruined by the rain? Nope because you are using monoblock chairs which are strong and easy to clean. During the summer it is the best chair to use thanks to its ergonomic design, meaning your back will not feel hot at all as you lounge under the sun. During the rainy season, you can either just leave your chairs outside or store them inside. Either one is a good option because, as we said earlier, these chairs are easy to clean and easy to store.

stacked monobloc

During hospital visits

One of the most worrisome events of any person’s life is when one’s loved one has been hospitalized due to an injury or an illness. Sometimes, the hospital provided cushioned chairs just aren’t enough for the influx of visitors who want to see how the patient is doing. Luckily, monoblock chairs are here to help solve the problem. Just grab a  few and let the visitors sit and chat with the patient. For sure it will help uplift you patient’s spirits up.

As wheelchairs

Believe it or not but the wheelchair has been around for hundreds of years. The earliest record of wheelchairs was found in a record dating two to three centuries later in Oriental China. Today the wheelchair is an essential device for those who have difficulty walking due to different reasons such as paralysis, amputation, illness or disability. It can be quite expensive too which is why some very creative minds decided to make use of the monoblock chair and turn it into a DIY affordable wheelchair. It is placed on a customized frame and outfitted with bicycle wheels to make it durable enough for uneven surfaces. Many impoverished communities have been given these wheelchairs for free around the world in a mission to allow everybody to move around.

At Events

Weddings, birthdays and baptisms are just some of the happy events to grace anyone’s life. And where else should your guests sit but on monoblock chairs? If you are worried about the design, don’t worry as we here in Uratex offer monoblock chairs in different colors and sizes perfect for your needs.

Has this convinced you to purchase momoblock chairs? Head over to your nearest Uratex showroom and purchase ‘em now!

Leather vs. Polyurethane Foam: Which Material is Better?

leather-vs-polyurethane-foam

Tough, weather-resistant, and shiny when polished – that’s what leather is. Mankind has been using this material for hundreds of years for applications like footwear, clothing, car seats, and of course, furniture.

However, no matter how seemingly perfect leather may be, there is one material that is more suited for the job – polyurethane foam. Although it’s a more recent development compared to leather, it’s far superior in many aspects. If you find that hard to believe, these facts should convince you.

Furniture

Archiexpo

Leather sofas have become pretty uncommon, as they’re quite expensive, making them more of a status symbol than anything else. They can also be hard to maintain, as they crack with constant use. However, if taken care of properly, they can last quite long.

On the other hand, sofas made of polyurethane foam are cheaper and more environment-friendly, as no animals are slaughtered in the process of making one. They are also durable and easier to preserve as compared to real leather, for they do not crack with constant use or fade when exposed to sunlight. They are easier to wash as well.

Fabric

polyurethane foam bag

In the 70s and 80s, leather jackets were an in thing. It’s not the most popular thing nowadays (hello global warming), but even today, leather jacket has retained its image of coolness. This is all thanks to its fabled durability and the protection it offers from intense sunlight, rain, and winds. However, leather is heavy and can feel hot when worn, as it’s not the kind of fabric that allows the skin to breathe. In addition, leather cannot be washed using regular means, and they need to be taken really good care of, or there will be buildup of mildew and odor on the fabric. High-maintenance much?

Thankfully, there’s a not-so-new fabric in town that can rival leather. It looks and feels like leather – but it’s not. It’s polyurethane foam leather, more popularly known as faux leather. This material provides better protection from the rain. It’s also lighter, requires less stringent care, and can be machine-washed.

Leather loyalists can say all the negative things they want about faux leather, but sometimes the original can be bested.

Smartphone Covers

smartphone cover

Back in the day, soldiers and hunters used to wear leather armor so they could be protected from weapon or animal attacks. Nowadays, while leather has become less of a protective garb and more of a fashion statement, it’s still used to protect. However, instead of the lives of people, it now protects smartphones.

When people find out that your smartphone cover is made of leather, you become this total hipster kid with a cool gadget case. Unfortunately, real leather smartphone covers only come in one color: red.

Polyurethane foam smartphone covers, on the other hand, are cheaper and feature more colors: blue, green, light grey and dark grey. They’re also smooth and durable. So…who’s the cooler kid now?

Leather is an important material. But when it comes to versatility, polyurethane foam is definitely king. So, between the two, which one will you choose?

Sound Advice: 4 Ways to Improve Theater Acoustics like a Pro

movie theatre

Sound is a very important part of venues that provide entertainment – stadiums, halls, convention centers, theaters, and cinemas, just to name a few. That is why people who set up these places are very much concerned with this particular aspect.

So, in addition to acoustic foam, how does one improve acoustics? These few tricks should teach you how.

 

The Carpet’s there for a Reason

Carpets are beautiful, but let’s face it – many people think they’re impractical. However, the carpet in the theater is not just for ambiance and aesthetics, it also helps in acoustics. Angular sound waves bounce off in flat, smooth, and hard surfaces like bare floors, causing echoes and ruining acoustics. Carpets, which are soft and textured, absorb these sound waves and make the original source of sound a lot more audible. Even though carpets can be quite a hassle to clean, they have to be there.

Other Than Your Back

You wouldn’t want to be caught dead in a theater or cinema that doesn’t have cushioned seats. If the mere thought of resting your back and your lap for two hours on a hard, flat surface probably feels uncomfortable already, then how much more if you actually do it? Thankfully, seats in these places are soft.

However, did you know that aside from making sure that you are ergonomically seated, they also help in acoustics? By principle, it works the same way as carpets – the sound waves are absorbed instead of bouncing back.

 

home theatre

 

Keeps Things Out

It’s important to eliminate outside noise, as it can interfere with the show and cause audiences to not hear properly the sounds, dialogues, and the songs. That is why when you’re making a movie house or a theater, saying that investing on a way to prevent outside sounds from being heard is a grave understatement. However, there is a way to cut costs on fancy soundproofing methods; try installing insulation.

The main purpose of insulation is to make sure that the temperature in the room, well, remains as room temperature. And aside from that, it also keeps out outside noise. See? Not only is your theater going to be warm and toasty; it’ll also be free from car horns, loud shouting, and airplane engine hums.

All About Position

People who don’t know much about acoustics think that where you place speakers don’t have much impact on sound. It can’t be helped; it’s not general knowledge after all.

However, you don’t really have to know everything in that branch of physics to get a bang out of your speakers; you just have to know where to place them. To figure this out, here’s what you have to do: put the front-left and front-right speakers on the front; the surround-left and the surround-right around the room, but not too close to the front speakers; and the center. Remember, the front speakers are the ones where sound effects and music comes from, the center is in charge of dialogue, and the surrounds create ambient sounds.

 

How’s that for sound advice? Take them to heart and your theater will be find with vibrant music and a satisfied audience.

3 Types of Polyurethane Foam in Carpet-making

rebond_foam

Looking into history, you can see than man has been using carpets for hundreds of years. Today, we have revolutionized the carpet world with the use of polyurethane foam underneath your carpet to lessen the wear and tear. This will also prolong your carpet’s life as it absorbs any impact of foot traffic.

There are two classes: Class one and Class two. Class one is best suited for places with light traffic such as living rooms and dining rooms. Class two is best suited for areas with heavier traffic like your stairs or corridors.

Here are the three types of foam in carpet making:

 

Rebonded Foam

Rebonded foam is made from the scraps of other polyurethane foam leftover during the manufacturing process. Instead of throwing them out, foam manufacturing factories have gathered these pieces up to be processed into rebonded foam. It is commonly seen in residential settings and can easily be identified due to its multicolored, marbled look. In the United States, rebond pad is the most common type of carpet cushion, with up to 85% of paddings currently using this type of foam. One reason for this may be due to how affordable rebonded foam is, with it being the most inexpensive foam. If you cannot find this in your nearby carpet store or online store, try asking the salesman for bonded urethane or bonded polyurethane as it is also known by these two names.  For class one, the foam must have a density of five pounds with a thickness of 0.375 inches or 3/8 of an inch. For Class two, the foam must have a density of 6.5 pounds and a thickness of 0.25 inches or 1/4 of an inch.

 

Prime Foam

From the name itself, prime, you know that this foam is of the highest quality possible. Unlike bonded foam, prime is made from raw materials. Three liquid ingredients, namely mixing water, conventional polyols and isocyanates, are mixed together by the manufacturer to huge blocks of foams around six feet wide. From this massive slab, sheets are sliced off to create the carpet padding your use. A plastic or woven backing is applied to one side and each one is rolled up. Compared to bonded foam, Prime foam is less porous , more moisture resistant and it is less likely to have hard spots in the future.

This type is also denser and firmer. There are three types of prime foam: conventional, densified and grafted foam. With the exception of densified prime foam, there is only one class as class two is not recommended for this type. Class one prime foam has a density of 2.2 pounds with a thickness of 0.375 inchees or 3/8 of an inch. For class one densified prime foam, you have the density of 2.2 pounds and a thickness of 0.313 inches or 10/32 of an inch. For class two, a density of 2.7 pounds and a thickness of 0.25 inches or ¼ of an inch.

Frothed Foam

What comes to mind when the word “froth” is said? Bubbles? Mushiness? Actually, frother foam is created by mechanically foaming the fluid used to create the foam. This is done by introducing air into the fluid using a frothing device. The mixture is then heated up to solidify it into foam and a machine produced thin sheets of predetermined thickness. A non-woven material is then applied to one side for the carpet to be attached on. It is the densest among the three polyurethane foams and the priciest. The best example is visco-elastic foam which is best known as memory foam. For class one, a density of ten pounds and a thickness of 0.25inches or ¼ of an inch is required. For class two, you need a density of 12 pounds and a thickness of 0.25inches or ¼ of an inch.

 

Take note of these three types of foams and their densities the next time you purchase a new carpet. This way you will be able to choose the most appropriate padding for your home and save a few bucks.

Soft Things Matter: The Application and Importance of PU Foam in Construction Industry

polyurethane foam

When the word construction is mentioned, what comes to mind are rough and hard things – steel, wood, stone, and concrete. But did you know that without something as soft and fluffy as polyurethane foam, today’s construction industry wouldn’t be what it is.

Here are a few important uses of this multi-purpose foam on the multi-million dollar enterprise.

 

Rigid Foams

If you thought polyurethane foam is always a soft and frothy material, you’re wrong. Polyurethane foam is used to make rigid foams, which are used for the insulation of structures. They are usually applied on the walls and ceilings of houses and buildings. Without them, structures can get either too cold or too hot.

Against Wind and Water

A lot of people think that wind and water can do no damage to structures. It actually does, but only little. However, as time goes on, little becomes a lot. To prevent this, polyurethane foam is usually applied. In fact, it’s one of the reasons why it’s applied in the first place. Without it, buildings and houses, especially their exterior, would sustain a lot of damage from the weather.

Thinner Is Better

Back in the day, houses and buildings had much thicker walls and ceilings as compared to what we have now. You might think that this means structures nowadays offer less protection from the elements from the outside, but that is definitely not true. In fact, thicker walls are more problematic, as they mean higher construction costs. Thankfully, because of the advent of polyurethane foam, builders can now afford to make thinner walls without compromising the protection they offer. This means less materials, and less materials mean less expenditure.

hercules polyurethane

More Creativity

Aside from practicality and insulation uses, polyurethane foam can also be used for artistic purposes, as it allows designers and architects to have that much-needed flexibility in remodeling both the interior and exterior of structures.

A good example of polyurethane foam that can be used aesthetically would be the use of foam-core panels. These materials that are derived from polyurethane foam offer a wide plethora of colors to choose from, giving owners and builders freedom to choose the hue of their walls, roofs, entry doors, and garage doors. Aside from the color, said material also provides varying textures, finishes, and styles.

Spray It, Not Say It

Ironically, one of the biggest problems builders face are those small gaps found between walls, ceilings, and spaces between them. Sometimes, they can be so small that even the smallest and thinnest strip of foam is difficult to seal them. Good thing the sprayed polyurethane foam has been invented.

This kind of polyurethane foam is perfectly suited for weatherproof sealants, creates a layer of insulation, and seals spaces that are both difficult to reach and are irregularly shaped.

 

People don’t really notice polyurethane foam when they look at structures. However, sometimes it’s the things that you don’t see that play very important roles. That is very much true in the case of the seemingly humble polyurethane foam and the great construction industry.