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Inside the flat-pack town

Tiny, nondescript Älmhult is where it all began for Ikea. We go on a very unusual tour, starting at the Ikea Hotel

Text by Hans Seeberg

The TestLab manager

Around 7,000 of Ikea’s products pass through the Ikea TestLab in Älmhult, explains affable manager Mattias Andersson, against the background noise of whirring machinery. Robots are stuffing and prodding sofas and little machines are opening plastic storage boxes thousands of times.

Just to get a mattress deemed officially fit for purchase, Andersson explains, starts with what looks like a 140kg wooden rolling pin going over it back and forth 50,000 times (for double beds, a 100kg load runs simultaneously). The mattress then goes to another machine where three metal cylinders press down on it 10,000 times. After that, a different machine simulates a 100kg human getting out of bed and sitting back down on it 20,000 times, before a 25kg weight is released 10 times at eight points on the bed to simulate a child jumping up and down. With materials, springs and bedframes also rigorously tested, Andersson admits: “It’s quite complicated.”

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