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The Secret Ingredient to Creating the Thinnest Cut-Resistant Gloves

by Frank MacDonald on March 15, 2017

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Engineered yarns are one of the biggest innovations in the world of cut-resistant gloves. Created by using two or more components, engineered yarns allow for gloves to have higher levels of cut resistance while maintaining precious dexterity. Engineered yarns are the reason a glove can offer 360 degrees of high cut resistance.

(Already a cut-protection expert? Get your FREE copy of the Superior Book of Cut Protection now!)

download the superior book of cut protection

1. What is an Engineered Yarn?

Engineered yarns are made using two or more components, the combinations are endless. High-strength fibers like Kevlar® or a high performance polyethylene (HPPE) like TenActiv™ will be used with a reinforcement “core” like fiberglass or steel.

Sometimes the glove will use several different components like our glove “The Beast”, which features 50% Kevlar® yarn and is reinforced with steel, composite filament fiber and Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene for an incredible 4,400 grams of cut protection (ANSI level A7).

Gloves like our TenActiv™ 18-Gauge Level A4 cut-resistant gloves were made possible by using engineered yarns. In this case, a combination of TenActiv™ high-strength yarn and composite-filament fiber core. Prior to this innovation, it was impossible to create a glove with that much cut protection in a glove that thin.

TenActiv™ 18-Gauge Composite Filament Fiber Level-A4 Cut-Resistant Knit with Foam Nitrile Palms

2. How are Engineered Yarns Made?

Engineered yarns are also called core spun yarns. The core (steel or fiberglass) is concealed using a yarn (like Kevlar® or TenActiv™). If the thought of fiberglass in your glove gives you itchy fingers, don’t worry, it won’t bother your skin if the yarn is properly spun. The yarns are twisted and wrapped over the core material in such a way that they should never be exposed to the skin.

Engineered yarns, cut-resistant yarns, core spun yarn



3. What was Used Prior to Engineered Yarns?

Initially, leather was the only glove option, but leather possesses no more cut resistance than human skin. Over time, high-strength fibers like Kevlar® and TenActiv™ were adopted for making cut resistant string-knit gloves. These fibers are excellent for cut resistance up to about 1500 grams (ANSI level A3). But these fibers, on their own, were lacking something when it came to higher cut hazards like meat processing or metal stamping.


4. How is Cut Resistance Measured?

As John Simmons pointed out in his piece on cut resistance, there are four factors that influence cut resistance.

  1. Strength: Strength comes from high-strength yarns like Kevlar® or TenActiv™.
  2. Hardness (Dulling): This comes from the core element like stainless steel or fiberglass.
  3. Lubricity (Slickness): Slippery yarns made of HPPE like TenActiv™ allows a blade to slide over its surface without cutting through.
  4. Rolling Action (Knit Construction): As a sharp edge slides across the blade, yarns will roll to create a ‘ball bearing effect’ which means the sharp edge will slide across without cutting through the material.

Not all of these factors are needed for cut resistance, but as a general rule, the more factors that can be engineered into a yarn, the more cut resistant it will be. For instance, a glove made of Kevlar® and stainless steel will have the following characteristics:

  • Kevlar® has strength
  • Stainless steel has hardness and when knit into Kevlar®, the glove has a rolling action

How engineered yarns are spun and twisted

By joining these two components together, Simmons says, the result is a material that’s more cut resistant than either material would be on its own. Adding a steel or fiberglass core to your cut-resistant string-knit glove is like adding rebar to concrete. It’s taking something that’s already strong and making it stronger.

Looking for more information on cut-resistant materials? Download your FREE copy of the Superior Book of Cut Protection now!

Download your free Cut Protection Book

superior book of cut resistance

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