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Bed testing – part 2

Bed designers and manufacturers often turn to SATRA for assistance during the design and product-proving process.

Image © Colleen Coombe | Dreamstime

Before new beds are released onto the market, designers and manufacturers are often interested in the durability of the prototype product and how it performs during simulated use. To supply such information, SATRA uses a variety of test methods to provide data which can then be used to give answers or judgements on the performance or characteristics of the bed.

Durability assessments

Durability of the bed and mattress is assessed using a bed testing machine incorporating a large round roller, which is operated according to the test method laid down in BS EN 1957:2012 – ‘Furniture – Beds and mattresses'. Test methods for the determination of functional characteristics’. This ‘rapid bed test’ in BS EN 1957:2012 ensures that products are ‘fit for purpose’ before they reach the showroom by subjecting the mattress and/or the bed base to 30,000 cycles at a rate of 16±2 cycles per minute. The firmness and hardness of the sleeping surface is determined by calculations from a special force-measuring indentor before and after the main mattress rolling part of the test (figure 1). The overall bed construction is assessed for the occurrence of any problems, including broken springs, broken stitching and tufts, displaced fillings and rucked or loose ticking. The whole process can be completed within one week after suitable conditioning has been carried out.

Figure 1: The BS EN 1957:2012 bed test

Figure 2: The EN 597-2 match test

BS EN 1725:1998 – ‘Domestic furniture – Beds and mattresses. Safety requirements and test methods’ includes test requirements to ensure the safety of beds and, in particular, that the bed base is fit for purpose. The tests can be applied to the bed base with a standard mattress or with the mattress supplied with the bed base. Depending on whether the bed base and mattress are supplied as a set or separately, a series of impact and static tests are applied to the frame, mattress support structure (including springs, slats, webbings and sheet material), and various points of the mattress, to assess the strength and durability. Particularly useful is the ‘durability of bed edge test’, carried out for 5,000 cycles and which determines whether sitting on the edge of a product will, over time, have a detrimental effect on performance. This test method can be adapted to help with the evaluation of beds where the designer has been concerned about the effects of prolonged sitting on the bed while watching television. Here, both static and fatigue loads can be carried out in the areas specified by the client.

Flammability

Bedroom fires originating from smokers’ materials motivated the UK government in the 1980s to insist on improved ignition resistance of domestic beds. Flammability compliance for the UK market is, therefore, a legal requirement. In the UK domestic market, there are two sets of requirements, as follows.

Firstly, fillings of all types – including foam, latex, non-foam and composites – must comply with the requirements of the UK Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (as amended in 1989, 1993 and 2010).

Figure 3: An example of a label for beds and mattresses sold in the UK

Secondly, under the General Product Safety Regulations 2005, mattresses and bed bases must be 'safe'. To demonstrate this, the complete construction should pass the appropriate hazard rating of BS 7177:2008+A1:2011 – 'Specification for resistance to ignition of matresses, mattress pads, divans and bed bases'. The low hazard rating requires compliance with EN 597:1994 – 'Furniture – Assessment of the ignitability of mattresses and upholstered bed bases', part 1 (cigarette test) and part 2 (match test – shown in figure 2). For the non-domestic sector – such as hotels, hospitals and barracks – products should comply with the medium, high or very high hazard classification of BS 7177:2008+A1:2011. See the section ‘Assessing the risk’ for further details.

Mattresses, mattress pads, cot or playpen mattresses, divans and upholstered bed bases (under BS 7177:2008+A1:2011) all require flammability labelling. The labels are fully illustrated in the specification. The word ‘RESISTANT’ shall appear on the border in white with a minimum letter height of 5mm. A smouldering cigarette symbol and a flaming match symbol shall appear in black on the central white area. The wording ‘Conforms to BS 7177 for domestic use (low hazard)', or for 'medium hazard', 'high hazard' or 'very high hazard’ as appropriate shall appear on the label. See figure 3 for an example of label which is for medium hazard.

Assessing the risk

Hazard category: Low hazard (for domestic use). Requirements: Resistant to ignition source: smouldering cigarette as specified in EN 597-1:1994. Resistant to ignition source: match flame equivalent as specified in EN 597-2:1994. Typical examples: Domestic dwellings (including non-motorised caravans).

Hazard category: Medium hazard.
Requirements: Resistant to ignition source: smouldering cigarette as specified in EN 597-1:1994. Resistant to ignition source: match flame equivalent as specified in EN 597-2:1994. Resistant to ignition source 5 as specified in BS 6807:2006, Clause 9.
Typical examples: Boarding schools, day centres, halls of residence at universities and colleges, holiday camp chalets, hospitals, hostels, hotels, old peoples' homes, residential schools and services’ messes.

Hazard category: High hazard.
Requirements: Resistant to ignition source: smouldering cigarette as specified in EN 597-1:1994. Resistant to ignition source: match flame equivalent as specified in EN 597-2:1994. Resistant to ignition source 7 as specified in BS 6807:2006, Clause 9.
Typical examples: Certain hospital wards, hostels, hotels, offshore installations and old peoples' homes.

Hazard category: Very high hazard.
Requirements: Resistant to ignition source: smouldering cigarette as specified in EN 597-1:1994. Resistant to ignition source: match flame equivalent as specified in EN 597-2:1994. Resistant to ignition source 7 as specified in BS 6807:2006, Clause 9. Additional requirements at the discretion of the specifier with high hazard requirements as a minimum.
Typical examples: Locked psychiatric accommodation and prison cells.

It should be noted that at all levels of hazard, BS 7177:2008+A1:2011 requires that all fillings pass the relevant tests specified in the UK Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (as amended).

How can we help?

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Please click here for information on SATRA's furniture testing services. SATRA can provide help, advice and consultancy for most bed testing and complaint issues – email furniture@satra.com to discuss how we can help your company.