Glove Materials & Coatings

Glove materials

A wide and diverse range of materials are used in the manufacturer of hand and arm protection, stretching from the traditional leather to the advanced synthetic yarns.

Leather

Leather is still widely used in a wide range of PPE as it is cost effective, durable and easy to incorporate into a wide range of gloves. Split leather is commonly used in welding gauntlets and general purpose handling gloves giving good grip and heat protection. Premium leathers from other animals are also used in more specialised gloves as they are often still superior to synthetic alternatives. Leather gloves are still made essentially by hand and with the increasing cost of raw materials can often prove a more expensive option for less hazardous applications.

Cotton

Cotton offers good absorption of perspiration and is comfortable to wear for long periods. It can be used on its own or mixed with other fibres for improved durability. Commonly used in terry or cut and sewn drill gloves it offers good insulation but is not as durable as some synthetic alternatives.

Acrylic

Acrylic is soft and pliable and can be used on its own or mixed with other fibres. It is a light fibre with good insulation properties against cold and cost effective to produce. It may also be used as a liner to improve thermal insulation.

Polyester

Polyester is a tough synthetic material which can be softer than nylon on the skin. Very durable and easy to wash although it can distort at higher temperatures. Whilst flammable it tends to shrink away from flames, self extinguish and absorbs very little moisture.

Polyamide

Polyamide or nylon is a tough synthetic fibre with good stretch and durability. It offers low lint properties when used alone but is often mixed with other fibres.

Aramid

The most common aramid fibre used in hand protection is Kevlar® made by DuPont™. All PLS products use genuine Kevlar® made by approved Kevlar® licensees. It is soft, durable and washable (please avoid chlorine bleach). It can be used on its own or in combination with other fibres such as steel for high levels of cut protection. It offers good protection from heat as it does not ignite and is often used in sleeves as well as gloves.

HPPE

HPPE is a high performance polyethylene which is light, flexible and very cut resistant. It can be used alone or with other fibres to increase cut protection. One of the biggest advantages of this fibre is its outstanding resistance to abrasion. Unlike aramid fibres, HPPE resists chlorine bleach commonly used in commercial laundering and is virtually unaffected by UV radiation. Because HPPE fibres are very smooth and lightweight they produce gloves which are very comfortable to wear. They also dissipate heat well-meaning a wearers hands are less prone to sweating.

Composite fibres

Composite fibres are combinations where one fibre is either wrapped or coated with a different material. Typical examples could incorporate steel or glass cores for extreme cut protection while maintaining a natural glove feel. This is a particularly complex area to describe as the term applies to an almost infinite range of material combinations. While combinations which include glass fibre can offer very high cut protection in EN388 coup tests, the real world performance can be very different.

Material Comparison

 

The following is a comparison of the resistance and durability levels of the most common materials used in the manufacture of Safety work gloves.

 

 

Cotton

Polyester & Nylon

High Tenacity Nylon

Kevlar

HPPE

Glass Fibre & Nylon

Steel & Synthetic

HPPE, Nylon & Glass

Kevlar Steel

Cut Resistance

Poor

Poor

Average

Very Good

Very Good

Good

Excellent

Very Good

Excellent

Tear Resistant

Average

Average

Average

Excellent

Excellent

Poor

Excellent

Excellent

Excellent

 

Comfort

Very Good

Very Good

Good

Good

Excellent

Excellent

Poor

Good

Good

Heat Resistance

Good

Poor

Average

Very Good

Poor

Poor

Poor

Poor

Average

Cold Resistance

Good

Average

Good

Very Good

Average

Average

Average

Average

Average

Sweat Absorption

Very Good

Poor

Poor

Average

Good

Poor

Poor

Good

Poor

 

Elasticity

Poor

Average

Poor

Poor

Poor

Poor

Poor

Poor

Poor

 

Yarn Costs

Very Low

Very Low

Low

High

High

Low

Medium

High

High

 

 

Safety Glove Coatings

The following details the most commonly used different glove coatings available on the market:

 

PVC

PVC is perhaps one of the most common and economic coatings available but is often out performed by nitrile rubber. Concerns over plasticisers (DEHP) used in recent years have largely been addressed with more environmentally acceptable alternatives now in use. These gloves are relatively cheap to produce and offer good resistance against many common chemicals especially when double dipped. PVC is particularly effective against water based compounds but can prove problematic with oil based products as it is oil based itself. One of the main disadvantages of standard PVC is the quality of grip on smooth surfaces. This lack of grip requires the user to exert more pressure when handling smooth, wet or oily items, resulting in increased hand fatigue and may also increase the risk of cuts as an object moves across the hand.

 

PVC Foamed

PVC foamed coatings are a fairly recent development which help address the problems with lack of grip on wet or oily items. The sponge like properties help conduct the liquid away from the point of contact and therefore require less pressure from the user to maintain grip. Items are less likely to slip in the hand thus helping reduce fatigue and reduce the risk of cuts.

Nitrile

Nitrile, or Nitrile Butadiene Rubber, offers similar properties to PVC but tends to be more durable and able to resist higher temperatures. Commonly used in disposable gloves as a replacement for latex but widely used for general purpose gloves. It is particularly suitable for use against oil based compounds, but water based surfactants can cause a loss of tensile strength and softening of the coating.

Nitrile Foamed

Nitrile foamed is used to improve the wet or oily grip properties of gloves. The slightly porous surface helps direct liquids from the point of contact between surfaces which means a user needs less effort to grip an item compared to non foamed coatings. Similar advantages to foamed PVC with reduced effort needed to grip oily or wet objects, better dry grip and the potential to reduce the cut risk.

Latex

Latex is a natural rubber which has been widely used for many years especially in medical examination gloves. It has excellent stretch and flexibility and when used as a coating offers outstanding grip on dry items. Unfortunately the wide use of this product especially within the healthcare field has resulted in an increase in latex allergies in certain susceptible individuals.