The first latex for mattresses was produced in 1931 using the Sodium Silicoflouride process which became known as the Dunlop Process. It was named this because it was developed by The Dunlop Rubber Co. in the United Kingdom. As with many industrial innovations that benefited from the reach of the British Empire, rubber did as well. The vast rubber plantations of Southeast Asia, India and Sri Lanka offered the feedstock for companies like Dunlop Rubber. Even though latex core development for mattresses may have been invented and pioneered by Dunlop Rubber the company invested far more in the production of tires and other high volume rubber products. Eventually Dunlop Rubber Co. abandoned the category and sold off it’s intellectual proprietary property rights to other manufacturers who went on the make it more available in the marketplace. One such company was the US Rubber Co. based in Connecticut. US Rubber was the pioneering company in America that made vulcanized latex rubber for the mattress industry. Brands such as Englander and US Rubber itself made latex mattresses in the 50’s and 60’s using this process of making latex foam rubber. Those mattresses were commonly called foam rubber mattresses. Until the introduction of polyurethane, Dunlop Process Latex Rubber was the only type of foam used in mattresses and upholstered furniture. In the late 60’s the facility that US Rubber manufactured latex in burned to the ground. There was a period of 4-5 years when latex foam was virtually unavailable in North America. Consumers who had experienced sleeping on latex mattresses cried out for this product to come back into the marketplace. A group of former employees of US Rubber finally started up a new company to produce latex in the shadows of the former US Rubber plant in Shelton CT. This group of individuals not only reintroduced latex to the North American market, but also developed a new process call Talalay. The purpose of this article is not to go into all the details of that process, but to familiarize you with the evolution of the product and processes producing it.
I think it is important to understand that there is no universal governing body overseeing producers of latex made with the Dunlop Process. Obviously all the original patents expired and now anyone willing to make nominal investment can use this process. I suppose this is why many people no longer spell Dunlop with a capitol D and now only refer to the process generically with a lower case d. There have been many improvements made with new manufacturing technologies, however not all dunlop process latex is of the same quality and consistency. I am aware of at leastt 10 manufacturers globally that produce dunlop process mattress cores. Many are near the rubber plantations in Asia. Many of these producers have products that are very similar if not almost identical. In my experience of designing a building latex mattresses there are some producers that produce dunlop latex to a high standard, while there are some that do not. Some dunlop latex I have observed is boardy hard lacking good resilience and flexibility. There are some producers that make latex cores with large voids or air bubbles that can not only change the feel, but perform poorly.
In conclusion what I am saying is that all latex calling itself dunlop process is not the same. There are limitations on standards, due to the fact that many of these products come from third world countries that have little or no governing bodies to enforce standards. Consumers should be aware of this and have to rely on the credibility and legitimacy of the companies that are buying from. Don’t just rely on a term like dunlop process loosely attached to the product you are buying, there is much more to it than that.