In the not-too-distant past, workers relied on leather or cloth gloves to protect their hands. While those gloves offer an extra layer of material, they only provided minimal protection. Today, the fibers used to produce modern gloves offer strength and resist cuts, abrasions, heat, and chemicals.
Comparing different types of gloves requires an understanding of rating systems used for different levels of protection. For example, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) applies specific test equipment to measure the weight in grams needed for a blade to cut through material.
European glove standards use EN388 ratings and provide another system for gauging protection from punctures, tears, blade cuts, and abrasion. All rating systems offer the advantage of using standards to determine which glove best matches the application.
Derived from aromatic acids and amines, aramid fibers have existed since the 1960s. These high-performance, synthetic fibers fit within the nylon fiber family but offer much higher tensile strength and thermal resistance than nylons do. If you are familiar with body armor made from Kevlar, gloves and jackets manufactured from Nomex, or optical fiber cables, then you already are familiar with aramids as well.
Gloves that incorporate aramid fibers usually blend those fibers with other fibers and become classified as meta- and para-aramid gloves. However, even with this blending, these gloves offer good value. When considering resistance to abrasion and tensile strength, meta- and para-aramid gloves do not grade especially high in tests based on European Conformity (CE) and ANSI standards. However, the gloves continue to provide good protection and a comfortable fit for a reasonable price.
High-density polyethylene fibers (HDPE) occur through extrusion and have a tight molecular structure that works well for materials ranging from thermoplastic pipe to fabric. Fibers made from HDPE offer many qualities that make HDPE gloves a favorite choice. HDPE gloves give moderate resistance to abrasion and cuts, moderately high tensile strength, and exceptional comfort. Fabrics made from HDPE fibers do not provide protection against heat contact or ultraviolet rays. Because they are not heat-resistant, they will remain soft and durable after multiple trips to the laundry room only if they are washed and dried at cool temperatures. When considering cost, HDPE gloves deliver a favorable quality/price ratio.
Manufacturers use a special spinning process for combining materials widely used in the automotive and aeronautic industries to produce Taeki 5 fibers. The engineered yarn has very high cut resistance and remains flexible. Gloves made from Taeki 5 fibers exhibit ANSI Cut Level A3 and EN388 level 5 cut protection while offering outstanding protection from abrasion and punctures. As a result, workers who handle sheet metal, glass, and other razor-sharp materials often prefer Taeki 5 gloves and liners.
When compared to meta- and para-aramid gloves, Taeki 5 gloves provide superior cut resistance. While Taeki 5 gloves protect hands from heat contact at an EN407 heat contact level, HDPE gloves do not resist heat. In addition, Taeki gloves and jackets separate from gloves made from aramids or HDPE by resisting UV light and in moisture wicking capabilities. Taeki 5 gloves offer a combination of comfortable fit, dexterity, and tactile sensitivity.