Manufacturers Create Fabrics To Reduce Weight Of PPE

This spring a number of fabric makers and manufacturers of turnout gear announced advancements in their products, many modified to reduce the weight of personal protective equipment, including CBRN garments.

The companies are TenCate SouthernMills, Safety Components International, DuPont Personal Protection, Remploy Frontline, PBI Performance Products, Waubridge Specialty Fabrics and Chapman Innovations.

Following up on last year’s introduction of Quantum3D by TenCate SouthernMills, the company has introduced an ultra-light version of Quantum3D to its premium line of thermal barrier fabrics.

The new product compensates for heavier weight moisture barriers that have recently been introduced to the market, according to the company.

Special turnout gear to protect from chemical, biological, radiation and nuclear (CBRN) threats is gaining interest throughout the fire service, SouthernMills said, and recent demand in the market has called for a more durable moisture barrier. Additional CBRN protection and extended durability both add weight to the protective garment system, the company noted.

In combination with the three-layer Crosstech moisture barrier, the new super-light version of Quantum3D compensates for the weight increase while offering the same high level of thermal insulation, SouthernMills said.

The three-dimensional structure of Quantum3D barriers provides higher thermal insulation without adding weight, decreasing total heat loss (THL) performance or reducing freedom of movement, the company said.

Advantages of the new Quantum3D, according to the company, are:

  • It makes for lighter gear without compromise to protective performance.
  • Its GoldCheck face cloth makes for easy donning and doffing.
  • And Wickwell Plus technology moves perspiration away from the body.
TenCate SouthernMills, a subsidiary of Royal Ten Cate, is a Georgia-based manufacturer of high performance fabrics for protective garment makers.

Another company, Safety Components International, said its Armor 7.0 product brings together trusted names in personal protection to offer a cost effective solution in an outer shell fabric.

Armor 7.0, touted by the company as the strongest outer shell fabric ever produced, combines ballistic grade 400 denier filament DuPont KEVLAR, solution dyed DuPont Nomex and DuPont KEVLAR fibers to form a powerful shield of protection. The combination, according to the company, provides added thermal protection, excellent tear resistance and greater fabric strength.

DuPont Personal Protection

The product is uniquely blended into a lighter-weight, seven-ounce twill weave fabric for improved comfort and maximum mobility, according to the manufacturer, and is topped off with its patented DuPont Teflon F-PPE water repellent finish.

Safety Components, based in Greenville, S.C., makes a range of products, among them synthetic fabrics used in a variety of industrial and commercial applications, including fire service apparel.

DuPont Personal Protection recently announced the redesign of its Tychem BR garment fabric certified to the 2007 edition of the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) 1994 Class 2 standard.

The new DuPont Tychem BR Class 2 garment helps provide increased vapor and liquid protection without full encapsulation, thereby making it easy to use and more affordable than a fully-encapsulated garment, according to the company.

In addition the company said Tychem BR meets the NFPA’s highest level of protection within the 1994 standard – providing first responders an increased level of protection when responding to CBRN incidents.

“DuPont Personal Protection is committed to providing PPE solutions to help better protect first responders,” said Dale Outhous, global business director for DuPont Personal Protection.

Successfully tested against more than 240 chemicals, Tychem BR fabric provides durability and tear, puncture and abrasion-resistance, according to the company.

The new NFPA 1994 Class 2 Tychem BR is engineered for ease of putting it on and taking it off, the company said. It is offered in hi-visibility yellow and low-visibility olive drab and includes integrated gloves that provide a high level of protection and a rear-entry zipper closure.

The NFPA Class 2 standard defines an intermediate level of chemical, liquid and vapor protection. Class 2 garments are certified for situations where there is an immediate danger to life and health and must be worn with a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA).

Remploy Frontline

DuPont is a science-based products and services company that was founded in 1802 and operates in more than 70 countries.

Remploy Frontline also recently announced its contribution to advancements in CBRN wear.

Soon to be available, the company said, is its SR3, a new single piece solution that provides several CBRN breakthroughs, including significant reductions in weight and complexity.

The company said the SR3 offers high protection levels and can be put on in less than five minutes for military personnel and first responders.

Among the SR3’s features are:

  • Single one piece, double skin coverall with two different hoods.
  • A 38 percent weight reduction from the Frontliner.
  • Lightweight fabric with better breathable material.
  • And thumb loops and foot stirrups to reduce donning time.
PBI Gold Underwear

“This represents a significant breakthrough for the CBRN industry,” said John Armstrong, general manager of Remploy Frontline. “We have built a new garment that meets the military and first responder community’s requests for lighter, faster and easier suits.”

Remploy Frontline, a British Company, designs and manufactures CBRN protection suits, life jackets and performance textiles.

PBI Performance Products Inc., a fabric maker based in Charlotte, N.C., introduced a new product this spring, PBI Gold knit underwear.

Combining PBI outer shell fabrics with lightweight PBI knit underwear forms a multilayer system that provides the ultimate in personal protection, the company said.

The underwear is described by the company as engineered for comfort and protection – lightweight, soft, cool and thermally stable under high-heat conditions.

“PBI Gold keeps you cool, dry and absorbs perspiration better than other knit fabrics on the market,” the company said. “PBI wicks sweat from the body, while offering a soft feel against the skin.”

Lightweight versions of PBI Gold, according to the company, can be used in virtually any application offering less bulk and more freedom of movement.

PBI Gold fabrics blend 40 percent thermal resistant PBI fibers with 60 percent high-strength Aramid for thermal protection, comfort and durability. The fabric, according to PBI, doesn’t shrink, become brittle or break open under extreme heat and flame exposure.

Waubridge Specialty Fabrics LLC of Chester, Va., announced it received four Underwriters Laboratories (UL) certifications for its patented Kovenex fabric.

The company said the certifications are for protective garments and hoods for structural firefighting; protective ensembles for proximity firefighting; protective helmet components for structural firefighting; and protective glove components for structural firefighting.

Each UL certification is in accordance with the 2007 edition of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1971 standard, according to Waubridge, and will allow Kovenex to be used in a variety of safety applications, including turnout and extrication gear, hoods, ear covers and gloves.

The company said Kovenex has been used by firefighters and other first responders for years in a number of products, including the Kovenex Rapid Response Blanket and Dragon Fire Alpha structural firefighting, extrication and mechanics gloves by Fireman’s Shield.


The blanket, according to Waubridge, can be wrapped around trapped victims’ heads and torsos, helping to calm them while keeping their body heat in and searing heat out. The company said a Kovenex blanket is soft, yet durable enough to protect victims against open flames, shattered glass particles, sharp metal edges and even incidental extrication tool contact and can also be used as a stretcher.

“While Kovenex has helped first responders and workers in other industries for some time now, our goal always has been to maximize the number of applications in which Kovenex can be used,” said Matt Smith, director of business development for Waubridge. “We are excited about these UL certifications.”


Smith said Kovenex fabric performance relies on inherent traits of its patented fiber blends, as opposed to chemical treatments or fiberglass, which makes Kovenex safe for contact with skin.

In addition, he said, the lack of chemical treatment means Kovenex has an infinite shelf life and can be washed and reused without compromising performance.

Chapman Innovations, a 10-year-old company based in Salt Lake City, Utah, has been working to expand sales of its CarbonX non-flammable fabrics.

Products manufactured with CarbonX, according to the company, are sold in a range of major markets, including protective apparel for car racing, firefighting and tactical police and military operations.

CarbonX is a yarn created by spinning O-PAN (oxidized polyacrylonitrile) fiber with an Aramid strenghthening fiber. The formula, according to the company, results in a yarn with amazing fire resistant characteristics that can be converted into an array of woven fabrics, knitted fabrics and non-woven felts.

Chapman Innovations said its fabrics will not ignite, burn, char, shrink or significantly decompose when exposed to intense flame, molten metal, arc flash or intense heat.

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