Chemical Resistance 101
Coating materials include natural rubber or latex, synthetic rubber, and plastics.
Common glove coating materials include:
1. Natural Rubber
2. Synthetic Rubber
– Chloroprene (Neoprene)
– Nitrile Rubber
– Butyl and Viton®-Butyl
– Polyurethane (PU)
– Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
Natural Rubber also known as Latex is found in nature in over 200 plants, but its most common source is the Hevea Brasiliensis tree. Natural rubber dispersed in water is known as latex. Natural rubber has a very high elasticity compared to other glove materials, excellent cut and tear resistance, and outstanding grip and temperature resistance. While it is flexible and durable over a wide range of temperature, -18 to 149°C (0 to 300°F), it has poor flame resistance. In general, natural rubber withstands water, alcohols, and some ketones, but has poor chemical resistance against most hydrocarbon and organic solvents. Natural rubber can cause an allergic reaction in some people.
Chloroprene known by its DuPont trade name of Neoprene® , was the first commercial synthetic rubber. It has good abrasion and cut resistance and resists degradation due to aging, sunlight, ozone, oxidation, and weather. Neoprene® is also flame resistant and demonstrates heat stability up to 93°C (200°F). It provides excellent resistance to a broad range of chemicals including acids, alcohols, fats, caustics, refrigerant, ketones, detergents, and fertilizers. Neoprene® is also combined with natural rubber in some glove coating formulations.
Nitrile Rubber is a co-polymer of acrylonitrile and butadiene. Nitrile rubber offers excellent physical hazards resistance to punctures, cuts, snags, and abrasion. While it is not flame-
resistant, it demonstrates functional performance in temperatures ranging from -4 to 149°C (25 to 300°F). Nitrile rubber has considerable resistance to oils, fuels, and certain organic solvents. It is commonly used as a coating for dipped gloves and also in the construction of laminated and impregnated, cut and sewn gloves.
Butyl and Viton®-Butyl are synthetic rubbers that are highly impermeable to gas or water vapors. Butyl provides excellent dexterity even in low temperatures while protecting against esters, ketones, strong oxidizing agents and a wide range of harsh chemicals that natural rubber is less effective against. It will degrade when exposed to agents such ammonia or certain solvents, but much more slowly than other elastomers. Viton®-butyl is a fluoroelastomer that protects against an even wider variety of toxic, caustic chemicals in all temperature extremes, especially high temperatures.
Polyurethane (PU) is a thermoplastic polymer of urethane. Polyurethane provides good abrasion resistance and tensile strength. Polyurethane offers good resistance to oils, some organic solvents, oxidation and ozone. It has poor resistance to hot water and is not recommended for use above 79°C (175°F). Polyurethane has a very low particulate shed, thus making it a good choice for cleanroom gloves. Polyurethane is also used in some specialty application styles and as a waterproof liner for gloves.
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) is a synthetic thermoplastic polymer of vinyl chloride. PVC offers good abrasion resistance but may be susceptible to punctures, cuts, and snags. While it is flexible, it does not provide the tactile sensitivity associated with most rubber products. PVC starts to soften at approximately 82°C (180°F). PVC is effective against water and most aqueous solutions, detergents, and diluted bases and acids. It only has limited chemical resistance to organic solvents. PVC is one of the more common coatings for coated work gloves.
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