Definition of Cell

Meaning of the Term as it Pertains to Mattresses

What is a Cell?

A cell is one of many small openings in the structure of a flexible polyurethane foam mattress. Conventional polyurethane foam structures feature consistent cell structures. Higher quality foam mattresses include random-sized cells, which give a plush feel. Mattresses may utilize tight or loose cell designs, which affect breathability. Looser designs allow greater breathability, whereas tighter designs constrict airflow.

In addition to cell size and arrangement, foam mattresses may feature open or closed cell designs. Most memory foam mattresses promote an open cell design, which allows for ample airflow that keeps the sleep surface cool. The open cell design also inhibits growth of mold and mildew.

Closed Cell

A form of cell construction that may be found in a polyurethane foam mattress. Closed-cell foams feature thousands of tightly packed internal pores, or cells, which are not interconnected. Inherent designs give foam materials strength and flexibility as well as water resistant properties. Camping enthusiasts often use thin, closed-cell mattresses on excursions because of durability and waterproof capabilities.

Closed-cell designs are less commonly found in mattresses. The cell design does not allow adequate airflow, which leads to heat buildup on the sleeping surface. The foam also traps moisture, which can lead to bacterial growth. Open-cell foams, in contrast, feature interconnected cell construction, which allows free airflow and inhibits growth of microorganisms. Lower quality mattresses tend to use closed-cell memory foam.

Open Cell

A cell construction commonly used in polyurethane foam mattresses. Mattress foam features tiny pockets of air which may be trapped (closed cell) or punctured (open cell). Individual cells in an open cell structure have small openings in their cell walls. This allows air pressure to spread to adjoining cells when foam is compressed. An open cell structure promotes airflow throughout the unit and enables foam to quickly regain its shape when pressure is removed.

Open cell is the preferred foam structure for the mattress industry. The cell design assists in keeping the sleep surface cool, which is a top concern with foam mattresses. In an open cell structure, air can pass more freely though the mattress and draw excess heat and moisture away from the body. Wicking away moisture also inhibits the growth of microorganisms like mold and fungus.