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Protective coveralls were created to ensure a high level of protection during work activities. They cover or replace personal clothing and their main purpose is to protect the worker from chemical, biological, mechanical, thermal, electromagnetic, and electrical hazards. Coveralls often win against other elements of protective clothing thanks to their design, which provides additional protection against uncontrolled loss of parts of clothing by workers performing particularly dangerous work.
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Protective clothing fabrics
How to select the right disposable protective coveralls?
The global leading fabric in the disposable protective clothing industry is flash-spun polyethylene. In shorthand, the fabric is produced by mixing polyethylene with a solvent, pressurizing it at high temperature and then extruding it through fine holes. During the extrusion process the solvent literally explodes or ‘flashes’ off, (hence the term flash-spun), leaving behind many fine polyethylene fibers which are then compressed into a flexible, dense sheet which combines the properties of strength, softness and liquid barrier (bearing in mind each of these terms is relative and subjective). It is also often described as ‘breathable’.
Its key competitor of the last ten years, microporous film, is a different, two-layer construction, the inner layer being standard spunbonded polypropylene, and the outer being a microporous polyethylene film. This film has the structure of a sponge on a microscopic scale. There are no holes directly through it, but it consists of lots of tiny chambers, some of which interlock and overlap creating winding pathways through the fabric. This creates a fabric that combines the properties of strength, softness, and liquid barrier (again bearing in mind each of these terms are relative and subjective). It is also often described, as we saw earlier, as ‘breathable’, though to what extent is uncertain.
SMS (Spunbound Melt-Blown Synthetic) material is a unique trilaminate material, of which there is a growing band of latter day variations such as SMMS, SMMMS or SMSMS. This, by contrast, really is breathable. A simple fabric-over-the-mouth test will readily demonstrate this and you can wear an SMS bag over your head and carry on quite normally all day long. SMS doesn’t have quite the same level of protection as spunbound polypropylene and microporous film combo, although – and this is important – it does still meet the requirements, and in many applications will provide perfectly adequate protection.
The protective coveralls must first of all be sewn in a way that makes them comfortable and prevents them from interfering with the work of the person wearing it. The cut and size must allow sufficient freedom of movement. There are also numerous important details: stitching reinforcements, tight-fitting hood as well as well-fitting holes for feet, hands and the hood.
I hope this article has helped you with understanding the coveralls.