Nomex

Can't stand the heat? Change your safety clothing to Nomex

Nomex DuPont released Nomex in 1967 as a woven and non-woven fiber in the aramid (nylon) family, along with its safety clothing material sibling, Kevlar.

Now available in paper, felt, fiber and fabric forms, Nomex has higher heat and flame resistance than other safety materials. As a result, personal protective equipment (PPE) of all types is made out of Nomex. Race car drivers, firemen and anyone else working in very hot, or potentially very hot, environments will appreciate this material.

For the purposes of PPE, gloves made out Nomex and used for welding, Nomex hoods and coveralls, lab coats, jackets and other Nomex clothing play a big role in protection against extreme heat.

In woven form, hundreds of applications exist, ranging from clothing to disposable cookware to filtration. In non-woven form, Nomex has been successfully incorporated into electrical insulation and air compressor blades.

The electronics industry has benefited dramatically by using Nomex in board form, enabling its products to survive extreme conditions. This allows for machinery reliability, resulting in cost savings.

Six different grades of Nomex paper have similar properties, but are different enough to find varying applications, predominantly in the electric motor industry. The maximum range of product thickness is 0.05 to 0.76 mm (2 to 30 mil).

Nomex - safety material of astronauts

Other forms of Nomex are being used as high-temperature filters, various airplane parts and even fire-resistant wallpaper. The U.S. space program has found many uses for Nomex: for thermal blankets, air bags and the outer shell of the Advanced Crew Escape Suit flight suit worn by astronauts. NASA uses Nomex for the extreme cold and near vacuum of space as well as for heat resistance.

Nomex is used in such PPE as insulated coveralls, balaclavas, hard hat liners, lab coats and jump suits. The material is also used for safety equipment such as heat shields and blankets.

Pros

  • Outstanding heat resistance.
  • Clothing made of Nomex will cool very quickly when the heat source is removed.
  • Temperatures of 200 C have little or no effect on Nomex.
  • Can be used underwater.
  • Very high strength-to-weight ratio.

Cons

  • It can make you sweaty and itchy when it's hot outside.
  • Does not "breathe" well as a material.
  • Three to four times more expensive than comparable cotton garments.

OSHA regulations dictate the bare minimum of fire-retardant clothing, such as the standards that apply to electric utilities and industrial co-generation plants when work is performed on existing facilities (i.e. maintenance work). The OSHA standard prohibits employees who work near energized parts from wearing clothing that could ignite, such as polyester, nylon, rayon or acetate (unless it has been fire-retardant treated).

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