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Why Is Breathability Important for Protective Clothing?

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What’s the meaning of Breathability?

When frontline operator chooses protective clothing, not only consider the garment protection level but also thinking about the comfortability. The comfortable garment makes the wearer willing to wear longer and extend protection for a longer time. There are many factors of protective clothing relate to comfortability. The most critical factor of comfortability is fabric breathability.

When we talk about the breathability of fabric, it usually means the ability of fabric to absorb and release moisture outward skin. It is the degree to which a fabric permits air or moisture to pass through. Therefore, the more breathable a fabric is, the greater moisture permeability it will have.

What are the benefits of breathable fabric as a protective clothing?

There are 3 ways that human body dissipate heat

  • Moisture (Sweat) Evaporate. The heat is drawn away from the body with the vapor, leaving the skin surface cooler.
  • Convection and conduction. The heat is lost to air or other materials that are in contact with the skin.
  • Radiation. The heat is given off by infra-red(IR) radiation.

Pic 1. Body heats dissipate through fabric of protective clothing

The body heat may be blocked by the fabric of protective clothing. With a breathable fabric, the vaporized sweat may pass through the fabric easily and make skin dry and cool down. That’s the reason why moisture evaporate is the most efficient way to dissipate body heat.

On the other hand, the objective of protective clothing is to block the dangerous substance out of the garment, which includes liquid drops and vapors sometimes. The type of fabric for protective clothing may reduce the air permeability to increase the protection level on purpose, which causes the situation frontline operators hesitate to wear protective clothing. Therefore, choose protective clothing with breathable fabric is crucial for wearers, especially since the heavy workload may generate massive body heat.

How to measure breathability

Many test methods conduct to measure the transmission of water vapor through fabric material. All of them rely on creating a humidity gradient in the test system between two sides of the fabric. Breathability rating for fabric is generally measured by two indexes, Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate (MVTR) and Resistance of Evaporation of a Textile (Ret).

Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate (MVTR)

The value of breathability is calculated by measuring the amount of moisture vapor pass through the fabric and reported as the moisture vapor transmission rate (MVTR). Higher value indicates better removal of vapor and moisture. The MVTR is reported as gram per square meter (g/m2) during a specified period (usually 24hrs) under defined temperature and humidity.

The test method is to measure the weight change after a period of time. There are 2 kinds of method to measure the MVTR, Upright Cup Test and Inverted Cup Test. Also known as JIS L 1099, JIS Z 0208, ISO 2528, and ASTM E96.

Table 1. MVTR test method

Resistance of Evaporation of a Textile (Ret)

The Ret test measures the evaporative resistance of the fabric under test and moisture loss when extra heat is applied on it. The resistance of evaporation of a textile refers to the level of resistance that a given fabric will demonstrate against evaporation, meaning that the lower the Ret value, the fabric has better breathability.

The Ret test method is slightly different from the MVTR test. Also known as ISO 11092 or Hohenstein test. The fabric is placed above a sintered metal plate, and heated water is channeled into the metal plate to simulate perspiration. Based on the Ret values of the fabric, they came up with a Comfort Rating System.

Comfort Rating System of Ret value

0 – 6 Extremely breathable. Comfortable at a higher activity rate.
6 – 13 Good to very good breathability. Comfortable at moderate activity rate.
13 – 20 Satisfactory to acceptable breathability. Uncomfortable at a high activity rate.
20 – 30 Unsatisfactory or slightly breathable. Moderate comfort at a low activity rate.
30 + Unsatisfactory or not breathable. Uncomfortable and short tolerance time.

Conclusion

When selecting protective clothing for frontline operators, not only the protection level, but also the breathability. Breathability is important for protective clothing in two ways. First, the breathable fabric allows vapor moisture diffused and prevent you from overheating during work duty.

Secondly, it allows air to pass through the fabric to keep comfort. The comfort of a fabric depends on its ability to transmit vapor moisture from the body to reduce the accumulation of water (sweat) on the skin. The less humidity inside the garment, the more comfortable you feel.

For the activities in a dangerous environment, you should not only choose an appropriate protection level of protective clothing, also need to consider the MVTR or Ret Value. Choose an appropriate protective clothing combined with both safety and breathability will make a huge difference during your job.

How Comfortable Is Your Protective Clothing?

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Wearing protective clothing while working in a hazardous environment reduces the risks of contact with contamination and keeps you safe. However, some wearers may experience soak-in sweating while working in a hot and humid environment. To ease the harmful feeling and keep you comfort at work, you must check two key figures on the spec sheet that represent breathability: MVTR and Ret value.

MVTR  

Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate

Higher values indicate that vapor and moisture are removed more effectively, and it can be used to determine how comfortable a coverall is to wear.

Ret value 

Resistance to Evaporating Heat Transfer

The lower the Ret value, the lower the resistance to moisture transfer and, as a result, the higher the breathability.

ULTITEC has published MVTR and Ret value on all ULTITEC 1000L-ULTITEC 3000T product pages at our website.

Contact us at derekduck@derekduck.com for more information on the specifications of protective clothing and to ensure that you are safe and comfortable at work.

New Video of Real Person Demonstration: Donning and Doffing Process

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Even if you have appropriate protective clothing on hand, you are still not safe. To avoid contamination or infection, it is equally important to don and doff coveralls correctly. To ensure the wearer’s safety at work, ULTITEC is pleased to announce that a brand-new video, performed by a real person, demonstrating how to properly take the donning and doffing procedures is now available online.

With this video on hand, you will be able to:

  • Share it with your clients or end-users to ensure their workplace safety.
  • Train your new colleagues in the proper donning & doffing procedures.
  • Review this video in your preferred language at any time and from any location.

ULTITEC has adopted “Act without fear!” as a brand spirit, and we encourage you to share this video with more people and stay safe together!

New ULTITEC 1800 & ULTITEC 2000 Adhesive Storm Flap Design

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In order to provide better protection and wearing experience to front-line heroes, ULTITEC is pleased to announce the new adhesive storm flap design on ULTITEC 1800 and ULTITEC 2000. The adhesive flap pattern was previously only applied on Type 4 and higher-grade models, such as ULTITEC 3000T and above. We have decided to incorporate this feature into ULTITEC 1800 and ULTITEC 2000 to reduce the risk of penetration at the critical front zipper area of the coverall. The end-users can now choose whether to adhere the storm flap when wearing these models.

ULTITEC has always strived to provide our partners with better solutions. If you require any additional assistance, please contact your account manager or via derekduck@derekduck.com.

ULTITEC New Video: 3 Steps to Go Home Safely

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Every frontline operators expect to return home safely after completing their tasks. Based on our global experiences over the years, ULTITEC has made constant efforts to provide protective clothing relevant knowledge. To encourage end-users to implement these procedures, we are pleased to introduce our brand-new video: 3 Steps to Go Home Safely to enhance workplace safety in your chosen subtitle language.

 

Now, you are more than welcome to share this video with your clients or end-users to co-create a safer working environment. Enjoy the video and “Act without fear!” with us!

Test Methods for Fabric Physical Properties and How They Enhance Job Efficiency

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In previous chapters, we discussed What Should You Understand About CE Test Standard for Protective Clothing, it stated clearly the standard definition of coverall and test methods for standard categorization. After we have grasped these standards, it is time to delve deeper into the fabric physical properties of the coverall, as these specific features will combine to form a qualified coverall that provides the best whole suit performance.

 

Fabric Physical Properties of Coverall

For coverall, it is more related to utility and durability as their production characteristics. Utility characteristics are changes in the wearing functions of a garment that occur when the fabric is subjected to a mechanical, thermal, electrical, or chemical force while being worn. While durability refers to the ability to maintain protection capabilities and wearing experiences until the maximum tolerance level is reached. It is the amount of stress that causes the fabric to break down or lose its ability to repeat a desired action or function.

Examples of Utility and Durability characteristics:

  1. Antistaticity
  2. Abrasion Resistance
  3. Flex Cracking Resistance
  4. Trapezoidal Tear Resistance
  5. Puncture Resistance
  6. Tensile Strength
  7. Seam Strength

Above we mentioned only examples of both utility and durability characteristics, you may find more details in the Performance Chart or Technical Data Sheets provided by the coverall manufacturer.

 

Test Methods for Fabric Physical Properties

We hereby introduce some fabric physical properties and their respective test methods used. By taking a peep at these test methods, you can understand how strict for a coverall to be CE qualified. CE certification assures users that the coverall has been independently assessed and the manufacturing process is maintained to comply with those standards.

 

Antistaticity

Test Method – EN1149-1

To determine the resistance value of the fabric surface.

This specifies the electrostatic property requirements for safety garments to avoid incendiary discharge, which is especially important in areas where explosive atmospheres are risky.

Picture 1. Test Method for Antistaticity

Abrasion Resistance

Test Method – EN 530 (Method 2)

To determine abrasion or rubbing resistance of fabric.

This is a critical test performed to ensure that the garment is free of defects, has a long design life, and consistently performs well. The abrasive resistance ensures that it has the necessary strength to withstand the predominant friction forces that will be subjected to.

Picture 2. Test Method for Abrasion Resistance

Flex Cracking Resistance

Test Method – EN ISO 7854 (Method B)

To determine the fabric resistance to the formation and growth of cracks or damages by repeated flexing.

Clamp the fabric in grip and flex it constantly, then observe the cracking degree to realize or compare its flex-endurance after flexibility fatigued. It is a measure of garment toughness, specifically its resistance when subjected to flexing abuse.

Picture 3. Test Method for Flex Cracking Resistance

Trapezoidal Tear Resistance

Test Method – EN ISO 9073-4

To determine fabric resistance to tearing once damaged.

A force is applied to steadily extend a cut in the test fabric. This method is a tension test in which the strength is determined primarily by the fibers of the composite structure and their bonding or interlocking. It is useful for estimating the relative ease of tearing of nonwovens.

Picture 4. Test Method for Trapezoidal Tear Resistance

Puncture Resistance

Test Method – EN 863

To determine fabric resistance to being punctured by a force.

Puncture resistance denotes the relative ability of fabric material to inhibit the intrusion of a foreign object. The maximum force required to push the spike through the fabric is recorded as puncture resistance.

Picture 5. Test Method for Puncture Resistance

Tensile Strength

Test Method – EN ISO 13934-1

To determine the maximum load that fabric can support without fracturing when being stretched.

It is a procedure that uses a strip method to determine the maximum force and elongation at the maximum force of textile fabrics in equilibrium. Set the movable clamp in motion and extend the test fabric until it reaches the point of rupture.

Picture 6. Test Method for Tensile Strength

Seam Strength

Test Method – EN ISO 13935-2

To determine the strength of seam assembly in a garment.

This method specifies for the determination of seam maximum force of sewn seams when the force is applied perpendicularly to the seam.

Picture 7. Test Method for Seam Strength

These test results will then be evaluated and accepted by the Notified Bodies, which are authorized to issue a CE certificate for the qualified coveralls. The results of each test are based on a classification system described in EN 14325:2018, which includes all classification tables for fabric physical properties.

 

Fabric Physical Properties Can Enhance Your Job Efficiency

Users shall consider different fabric physical properties based on their job requirements in each application. Hereby listed few examples for reference.  

Chart 1. Considerations of Fabric Physical Properties

For users in construction, due to working environments, durability is the main concern, thus abrasion, trapezoidal tear or puncture resistance shall be considered. While for painting, do check on the flex cracking resistance and tensile strength, as you will need a lot of major movements thus any ruptures on the coverall may delay your working schedule. While in the oil and gas industry, users shall take note of the antistaticity as static electricity can create a tiny spark which in a flammable environment is sufficient to cause major explosions. Also, for those who carry out disaster management and disease control, considerations on tensile strength and seam strength are needed, as the conditions of the on-site environment will be full of unknowns.

 

Conclusion

There are always other aspects to consider when selecting an appropriate coverall in addition to these fabric physical properties. The final choice must be comprehensively evaluated instead of depending on a few values. For example, the coverall must also meet certain requirements such as chemical permeation resistance, ergonomic designs, etc. There are always many perspectives from which you can examine the appropriate coverall you should wear.

In the coverall world, there is a lot of knowledge to comprehend and these hidden features will lead you to select a more appropriate coverall for your daily jobs according to your needed protection levels. By paying attention to these details on Performance Chart or Technical Data Sheets, you will discover that there is no perfect coverall, but an appropriate one is the best companion to safeguard you while completing your jobs perfectly!

 

Chart 2. Performance Chart of ULTITEC

Enhance Your Protection With ULTITEC Seam Performance

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Seams are the fundamental element of a garment. Consistent stitches and a high-quality seam structure are especially important for seam performance. ULTITEC has always insisted on adhering to the principle of our unique seam technology in order to ensure that each protective garment goes above and beyond the basic requirements of safety and durability.

ULTITEC has been detail-oriented in seam technology, focusing on providing high-end quality and exceptional techniques. The strong seam structure not only improves tear strength of seams, but also keeps the protective clothing safer when performing large movements such as stride, squat, or bend over.

ULTITEC has always strived to provide our partners with the best solutions possible. If you need more information about seam technology, please contact your Account Manager or derekduck@derekduck.com .

What Should You Know About Microporous Fabric Coverall?

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When your working environment contains hazardous liquid such as blood, chemical liquid, or acids, wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) can keep you safe and reduce the risks of contact with the hazards. However, have you ever experienced sweating all over your body after a long day at work while wearing a coverall? To keep your comfort and efficiency and prevent the risky liquid at the workplace, wearing the coverall which is made by microporous fabric will be a popular solution.

What is the microporous fabric?

Microporous fabric is made up of nonwoven laminated microporous film, which is a light fabric that offers good breathability while remaining substantially impermeable to liquid. However, do you know how to maintain both breathable and liquid-proof at the same time?

To avoid liquid and blood penetration, the size of micropores is smaller than water drops and greater than moisture vapor. Besides, the winding holes are often stacked in several layers to allow moisture vapor molecules to flow while keeping liquids out. The micropore size of microporous fabric, for example, is on average 80-120 nm in diameter, which is 250 times larger than moisture vapor and 15,000-20,000 times smaller than a drop of water, as illustrated in Figure 1. This is how it manages the features of breathability and liquid protection.

Figure 1. ULTITEC Fabric Construction

 

The applications of microporous fabric include disposable items for medical, industrial, and consumer products, such as protective clothing, gowns, patient suits, coveralls, boots, and so on.

Coverall fabric structures

The fabric structures of the coverall also determine the breathability and liquid-proof function, which are compared in the table below by three fabric constructions: Multi-layer Spunbonded Melt-blown Spunbonded (SMS) fabric, Microporous film laminated PP nonwoven (PPSB), and Impervious PE coated fabric (PE Coated PPSB).

Coverall Fabrics Microporous Film
Laminate PPSB
Multi-layer SMS PE Coated PPSB
Fabric

Structure

Breathability
Liquid Protection

Table 1. Coverall fabric structures comparison

  • Microporous Film Laminate PPSB

It provides both premium breathability and liquid protection and can be used to handle hazardous liquids fluids, and the ability to allow water vapor to pass through the fabric will keep you comfortable at work.

  • Multi-layer SMS

It is more breathable than the other two, but it only provides limited liquid spray protection. However, it offers superior particulate protection and is appropriate to use when working with dust, asbestos, or construction.

  • PE Coated PPSB

Even though the special PE coated on PP nonwoven formula is not breathable, it provides an excellent external barrier against extremely dangerous hazards, directional liquid jets, and a wide range of chemicals. It can be used in petrochemical, oil and gas, and power plant, etc.

How to select an appropriate microporous fabric coverall?

After learning the facts about microporous fabric coveralls, you should consider 3 critical factors before choosing the appropriate one for your workplace.

1.  The quality of microporous fabric

A good-quality microporous film has small micropores and consistent pore distribution to resist liquid and fluid, and the moisture vapor can easily discharge through the multi-layer winding holes. In contrast, the poor quality of microporous materials will allow risky liquids to penetrate through the microporous film due to its large pores and inconsistent pore distribution.

Figure 2. Microporous film quality comparison

2.  Measurement of breathability

  1. You can choose breathable microporous fabric protective clothing to keep your body comfortable while working by looking at the Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate (MVTR) and Resistance to Evaporating Heat Transfer (Ret).

Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate (MVTR)

  1. It is a vapor barrier permeability measurement that refers to the rate at which sweat evaporates from the skin. Higher values indicate that vapor and moisture are removed more effectively, and it can be used to determine how comfortable a coverall is to wear.

Resistance to Evaporating Heat Transfer (Ret)

  1. It determines a material’s resistance to water vapor. In contrast to the MVTR, the lower the Ret value, the lower the resistance to moisture transfer and, as a result, the higher the breathability.

3.   Identify hazards and select the equivalent protection

Aside from liquid hazards, it may contain other types of hazards in the workplace. You should assess the hazards you will encounter daily and then choose an equal level of protection in accordance with Regulation (EU) 2016/425. Please refer to CE Standard for the categories of risks and related certifications, and also read the article of Instead of Getting a Coverall, “Going Home Safely” Is What We All Desire for more information.

Figure 3. The operators were cleaning the spilled oil at the Gulf of Thailand

(Photo credit to Nicolas Axelrod)

Take the application of microporous fabric coverall for example. Approximately 50,000 liters of spilled oil, causing an oil slick to float on the sea and reach the Gulf of Thailand. Thousands of workers cleaned the contaminated beach to mitigate the damage caused by this devastation. In this scenario, a Type 4 EN 14605 spray tight suit that can protect against oil and saturated liquid splash would be a good choice because it provides the required protection against the harmful oil while also preventing any potential harm to people involved.

Conclusion

Microporous fabric is made of microporous film laminate PPSB and is designed to resist liquid while providing superior breathability. In terms of both breathability and liquid protection, microporous fabric coverall provides a better wearing experience than multi-layer SMS and PE-coated PPSB fabric coveralls. To select the appropriate microporous fabric coverall, please review the manufacturer’s technical information for comparing the quality and the breathability index such as MVTR and Ret Value. Besides, take into account the hazards at your workplace and select the equivalent protection level based on the CE standard from Regulation (EU) 2016/425. By doing so, you will be not only safe but also efficient at work.

All ULTITEC Series are Ready for the New Era of UKCA Cert

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DEREKDUCK is pleased to announce that all ULTITEC products have been approved under the most recent UK legislation for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).  We are committed to supporting the UK market and supplying safe products to our valued partners.

The UKCA (UK Conformity Assessed) certificate is a new requirement for PPE goods placed on the Great Britain markets (England, Wales, and Scotland), and must bear the UKCA marking, which goes into effect on January 1 2021 During the transition period, however, you can continue to use the CE marking until December 31, 2021, in most cases.

Northern Ireland is in a different situation As long as the Northern Ireland Protocol is in effect, EU conformity markings will be used to comply with EU regulations. However, if you use the UK-based Notified Body to perform mandatory third-party conformity assessment, you must also apply a UKNI (United Kingdom Northern Ireland) marking.

Key Principles for PPE Markings
Regions Accepted Markings
EU Market CE
Great Britain
(England, Wales and Scotland)
CE (before December 31, 2021)
UKCA (after January 1, 2022)
Northern Ireland CE (EU-based Notified Body)
CE + UKNI (UK-based Notified Body)

ULTITEC is ready to provide UKCA solutions to our partners If you require any further assistance with the use of a UKCA certificate or marking, please contact your Account Manager or derekduck@derekduck.com

ULTITEC Successfully Sparked Occupational Safety Attention at Press Event

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The International Labor Organization (ILO) has proclaimed April 28 as “World Day for Safety and Health at Work” to encourage global prevention of occupational hazards and diseases. ULTITEC hosted an “Advocating Occupational Safety Press Event” and invited the representatives of Institute of Labor, Occupation Safety and Health, MOL, Taiwan Union of Nurses Association, Chang Jung Christian University, Fu Jen Catholic University, and National Yangming Jiaotong University jointly announced their intention to pay attention to occupational safety concerns, enforce corporate social responsibility, and ensure that every workplace worker returns home safely.

ULTITEC donated protective clothing to the three participating universities as teaching aids and offered lecture collaboration at the press event. We  expect that these potential frontline operators will embrace the proper concept of occupational safety and return home safely.

This year marks the 13th anniversary of ULTITEC. Previously, we had been through Ebola, avian flu, African swine fever, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and the Gulf of Thailand oil spill, etc. ULTITEC was protecting frontline workers so they could return home safely after the incidents. We fight alongside more than 150 million frontline heroes across 45 countries.

ULTITEC believes that what people want is not protective clothing, but to go home safely. Follow the three steps to go home safely will guide every frontline personnel to return home safe and sound.

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