Measuring how well lab gloves hold up

The humble rubber glove has become surprisingly sophisticated and now ranges over at least three categories, six specific and numerous more generic international standards. There are also two competing issues: preventing moisture getting in but still allowing the hand to breathe. 

The solution is, necessarily, a compromise – but a different compromise for each category, standard and often for specific applications. This is where Versaperm, a specialist in vapour permeability comes in, with its latest range of measurement systems.

Some modern glove designs can even offer different permeabilities and abrasion resistance for various parts of the glove. A fully vapour-impermeable glove will rapidly become hot, wet and uncomfortable to wear, this can lead to various skin problems. On the other hand, the glove needs to prevent toxic or harmful substances from permeating in.

Either developing a new glove or the on-going quality control of both the finished gloves and their component materials, require testing. Versaperm's equipment is typically accurate in the parts per million (PPM) range (PPB in some cases), it can measure several materials or finished gloves at the same time under a variety of environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity. The equipment is highly automated making it simple to use, fast and precise.

Surprisingly, although liquids, such as water or blood, are relatively simple to keep out with a good seal, their vapours often permeate straight through the glove. Many excellent traditional water barrier materials, such as cellulose, EVOH or PVOH, are virtually useless as vapour barriers – which could lead to catastrophic results.

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