Reinventing a Circular & Functional Mattress for the Health-care Sector

Mattresses for the healthcare sector are designed for robust use with a core foam layer and a polyurethane-coated polyester textile cover. Nurses and surgeons indicate that, these mattresses are highly uncomfortable to patients because of poor microclimatic management (air, moisture, temperature, friction, pressure regulation, etc) which can cause pressure ulcers (in less than a day). The problem is severe (e.g., extra recovery time, medication, increased risk and costs) for patients with wounds, infection, pressure-sensitive decubitus.

There are around 180,000 waterproof mattresses in the healthcare sector in the Netherlands, of which yearly 40,000 mattresses are discarded. As a result of the rapidly aging population it is expected that the demand for these functional mattresses will increase from 180,000 to 400,000 in the next 10 years in the healthcare sector. To achieve a circular economy, Dutch Government aims for a 50% reduction in the use of primary raw materials by 2030. As of January 1, 2022, mattress manufacturers and importers are obliged to pay a waste management contribution.

Within the scope of this project, students will design, develop, and test a circular & functional mattress for the healthcare (cure & care) sector. The team of experts from knowledge institutes, SMEs, hospitals and the branch-organization will work together to design and develop a functional mattress. The design has to deal with uncomfortable sleeping and has to address the issues of pressure ulcers and microclimate management. It also has to include ease of use for nurses and patients and will ideally accelerate the overall healing process.

You will perform systematic research with proper demand articulation and will use V-shape verification and validation research methodology. With design focus and applied R&D at TRL-level (4-6) you are expected to deliver the validated prototype(s) offering SMEs an opportunity to innovate and expand their market.

So, the main question in this project is: how can eco-technological innovations help to achieve circularity and mandatory functionalities for mattresses in the health-care (cure-care) sector validated by key stakeholders in the supply chain?

Other issues that could be addressed are:

  1. What are the key requirements in terms of circularity, functionality, usability, hygiene, and logistics for the mattress in the healthcare sector?
  2. What are the key design aspects of circular-functional mattresses that satisfy the technical, legal, user, and asthenic requirements validated by the participating companies and expert panels?
  3. Which ‘triggerable’ chemical/ biological/mechanical methods for coating removal are suitable for achieving circularity of newly designed-developed mattresses and their components.
  4. How to radically eco-design functional/circular mattress and its components such as mattress cover and mattress core, taking the new circular coating technologies into account.
  5. Commercial aspects and Cost analysis of designed and developed products.

Cluster: Circular Textiles 1

This project contributes to the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):