In 1988, the United States Space Foundation, in cooperation with NASA, established the Space Technology Hall of Fame®, to recognize technologies originally developed for space applications that now improve life on Earth.
In 1998, the following innovators and contributing individuals were honored for the successful development and commercialization of Temper Foam®technology.
NASA Ames Research Center, Becton Dickinson, Dynamic Systems, Inc., Southwest Research Institute
Chuck Kubokawa, Charles J. Laenger, Sam McFarland, Robert L. Willbur, Charles A. Yost
Press Release from NASA Ames Research Center
April 21, 1998
NASA Invention Inducted into Space Technology Hall of Fame
Temper Foam, a material first developed by NASA in the 1970s to improve seat cushioning and crash protection for airplane pilots and passengers, was recently inducted into the United States Space Foundation's Space Technology Hall of Fame, Colorado Springs, CO.
Developed at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, the material eventually found its way into commercial products such as orthopedic support cushions, operating table pads, ear plugs, football helmets and furniture cushions. The foam is also used in Space Shuttle seats. Temper Foam takes the shape of impressed objects, but returns to its original form even after 90 percent compression.
"I was trying to develop seating for aerospace vehicles so people could better survive any crashes or impacts," said co-inventor Charles (Chuck) Kubokawa of Palo Alto, CA, now retired from Ames. "We crash-tested several seats at the Civil Aeromedical Institute in Oklahoma City to validate them for impact survival, and we found it was good for 36 g's. The seat can out-survive the aircraft in a crash."
"If you think about the potential uses for this material for passenger protection and comfort, infant protection and use by handicapped persons, the future for this product is almost unlimited," Kubokawa said.
Temper Foam retains its form in its natural state, but when the material comes under pressure, such as when someone sits on a cushion, it contours to the natural curves of the contacted surface without any pressure points, Kubokawa said. "In other words, the weight is evenly distributed along the contacted surfaces," he said. "If there is an impact, the total surface evenly absorbs the impact force." The material is also non-flammable, non-toxic and inexpensive.
Kubokawa is the first Japanese-American to be inducted into the United States Space Foundation. His co-inventor, Charles Yost, now runs Dynamic Systems, Inc.,1 Leicester, NC, that produces Temper Foam for industry.2
Notes added by Dynamic Systems, July 2013
1 Charles Yost passed away in March 2005. His son, Robin Yost, became President and CEO of DSI in November 2011. Charles' daughter, Susan Yost, is the company's Marketing Director.
2 Dynamic Systems, Inc. sold the Temper Foam® formulation in 1974 to Becton-Dickinson. Mr. Yost later modified the Temper Foam® formulation to create an improved but short-lived polyurethane cushion material called "Dynafoam". That formulation was modified and improved upon again to make the third-generation cushion materials DSI currently manufactures: SunMate®, Pudgee®, and Liquid SunMate® Foam-in-Place Seating (FIPS).
NASA Certificates of Recognition
February 22, 1977 NASA Certificate of Recognition awarded to Charles A. Yost for the creative development of technology which was the subject of a NASA Tech Brief publication entitled, VISCOELASTIC FOAM CUSHION
April 1, 1999 NASA Certificate of Recognition awarded to Charles A. Yost for the creative development of a scientific contribution which has been determined to be of significant value in the advancement of the aerospace technology program of NASA, and is entitled: Temper Foam (Visco-elastic foam/seat cushions)
NASA Publications Featuring Dynamic Systems, Inc., SunMate® / Temper® Foam
- 1976 NASA Spinoff, "Versatile Padding"
- 1977 NASA Spinoff
- 1977 NASA Tech Briefs, “Viscoelastic Foam Cushions”, Mar. vol. 1, no. 3
- 1979 NASA Spinoff, "Springback Foam"
- 1981 NASA Spinoff, "Temper Foam"
- 1988 NASA Spinoff, "Foam Cushioning"
- 1998 The Ames Astrogram, "Ames Invention Enters Space Hall of Fame," May 1
- 1998 The Ames Astrogram, "NASA Temper Foam a Spinoff Success," May 15
- 1998 Aerospace Technology Innovation, "Famous Foam Has a Future," May/June vol. 6, no. 3
- 1998 NASA Tech Briefs, “40 Years of Innovations,” Nov. vol. 22, no. 11
- 1999 The Ames Astrogram, "Space Act Award Ceremony Honors Ames Employees," April 23
- 2002 NASA Spinoff, "Ames Research Center"
- 2005 NASA Spinoff, "40 Year-Old Foam Springs Back with New Benefits"
- 2006 NASA Tech Briefs, “30 Years of Materials and Coatings”, May vol. 30, no. 5