A very common mistake in glove selection is picking the wrong fiber type. As you will find from the descriptions below fibers are not all created equal.
When you are looking for protection and make glove purchasing decisions in addition to the summary information on fibers listed below the assembled textile and coating must be considered.
Talk a look at a separate post: “The Puncture and Cut Resistant Textiles and Composites”
This material is perhaps the most widely used synthetic fiber. Low in cost and available in may sizes and types. Moderate tensile strength and low cut performance limit the protection from this material used alone. Polyester yarn in its textured form has quite good abrasion for its price point. Chemical resistance is broad, however polyester is a moderate temperature fiber with a burn and drip risk. This material is useful as a blending fiber for controlling the cost of a composite yarn.
Nylon is the second most widely use synthetic fiber. Nylon has moderate tensile strength and low cut. Nylon has really standout abrasion resistance and this makes it very useful in gloves. The military has used nylon in combination with cotton for BDUs and other garments for many years. Like polyester, nylon is an excellent choice for glove components, it is slightly more expensive than polyester but higher in durability. Nylon has moderate temperature resistance and a burn and drip risk if used by itself. Chemical resistance is lower than polyester.
This is the old stand Kevlar, Twaron, and Technora this fiber is aromatic nylon. The fiber is strong but small filament size limits it performance for light knit gloves. The high tensile strength with small filaments make this a better puncture material than a cut product. For cut level 4 and 5 gloves we need high density knit fiber cover. These high cover knits are bulky and not very comfortable. For the Para-Aramid TurtleSkin product there is enough fiber density to provide both cut and puncture. One side benefit of the Para-aramids is they are high temp materials and have excellent flame performance. On the down side Para-Aramids have iffy chemical performance, acids and chlorine bleach are big trouble for these materials. One last caution, Para-Aramid fibers are not good in abrasion, gloves made from these fibers should have a coating or a cover glove.
Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene UHMWPE
UHMWPE is Spectra and Dyneema fiber significantly stronger than the Para-aramids. They are also small filament yarns with the exception of the new Dyneema Diamond fiber. Good cut performance and excellent chemical resistance to most common compounds. On the down side these materials can only handle about 220F and start to fail at just slightly higher temperatures. Because UHMWPE is polyethylene it is very low friction. This makes UHMWPE a poor choice for puncture resistance. In addition UHMWPE will burn and has a bad melt drip issue so all around not a good high temp material.
Liquid Crystal Polyester
The LCP or Vectran material has tensile strength between UHMWPE and Para-Aramid. LCP is a large denier per filament fiber and has very good cut. Because LCP is Aromatic Polyester it is also a high temp fiber. LCP fiber is resistant to most industrial chemistry and has some flame resistance. LCP is better all around in abrasion than either Para-Aramid or UHMWPE. Bear in mid that abrasion and durability in gloves is a complex topic and this review is a summary. The combination of large filament, tensile, chem resistance, high temp, and abrasion make Vectran a strong competitor. Great combination performance in cut and puncture applications
Fiberglass is just glass, and as you would expect it is fragile. Fiberglass does not do well in abrasion or in flex, the damaged surface of fiber glass yarn has sharp ends of broken filament exposed and this shape filament can cause skin irritation. However fiberglass is very hard when compared to all the organic fibers we have talked about, fiber glass is harder than most cutting tools. The glass fiber breaks down the cutting edge of the threat and and gives good cut resistance. As long as the fiberglass has a protective cover of one of the other fibers on the list it is a tough high cut fiber. Not a surprise that fiberglass has great thermal resistance and will not burn. Chem resistance is uneven.
Like fiberglass stainless steel fiber is a specialty item that is used in combination with one of the other fibers. This fiber has all the properties of steel, hardness, toughness and stiffness. Good thermal and chemical resistance, however as this material is used in a blend these properties are only as useful and the total performance of the blended yarn. To address the stiffness of steel these fibers a low denier per filament and this limits the performance to some degree. The exception is ring mail gloves that over come the stiffness issue with a special welded fabrication process.
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