Nomex, Kevlar and Tyvek - superstar safety materials for PPE
Workplace safety starts from the fiber up. Choosing which safety materials are used in the personal protective equipment (PPE) you give your employees is determined by the hazards they face on the job.
Whether a Kevlar vest for resistance to bullets and other powerful penetrating objects, a pair of Nomex gloves for steel mill workers,Tyvek wristbands for ID purposes, or a leather work apron for welders, the materials used in your safety clothing and other PPE can turn any task into one of comfort and safety - or an exercise in risk and frustration if the wrong material is used.
A myriad of safety materials are available, but some materials in particular have exemplary attributes. Nomex, Kevlar, Tyvek and leather are suitable for use in safety equipment and PPE because of their properties of
- durability / tear resistance
- chemical resistance
- flame retardance
- temperature limits
Nomex, Kevlar and Tyvek are sibling safety materials born of DuPont, all of which were created some 30 years ago.
Nomex - too hot to handle
Nomex is manufactured in both woven and solid forms. As a solid, Nomex helps electronics production since Nomex acts as a high-temperature baseboard. In paper form, Nomex can be used as filtration or fire-resistant wallpaper.
Kevlar as replacement for asbestos
Kevlar is amazing in its own right, with its unmatched strength in a woven material.
Kevlar has a strength-to-weight ratio that is stronger than steel. It began saving lives in its first form, as the material of bulletproof vests. Reinforcing automobile tires quickly became its next claim to fame.
Today, Kevlar has found many other uses, such as ladders made of rope and towropes for icebergs. DuPont also saw a need for an asbestos replacement and put Kevlar to work as brake linings and clutches.
Tyvek - wristbands, house wrap and lab coats
Tyvek is a spun bonded olefin made from high-density polyethylene fibers. Spun bonding is a process used to orient the material on a molecular level, which leads to higher temperature limits and increased strength. Tyvek is surprisingly strong stuff; it cuts fairly easily but it is extremely difficult to tear.
Many couriers use Tyvek for shipping envelopes (and you know how hard those are to tear open). However, the largest market for Tyvek is house wrap, as it has a permeability that allows water vapor to pass through while keeping liquid out.
Industrial uses include employee Tyvek wristbands as identification markers, and personal protective equipment such as laboratory coats and coveralls.
Tyvek is also an excellent barrier material against fumes or chemicals.
Leather for durability and comfort
You may not think of leather as a PPE candidate, but think again. Leather is suitable in the construction of welding jackets, aprons and gloves, headgear for warmth or welding, work boots and tool belts. Durability and comfort make leather one of the most popular materials out there.