What Cleanroom Glove Offers the Most Comfort – PVC, Latex, or Nitrile?
This video discusses the “Second C” for gloves, which is Comfort. Greg Heiland explains how the inherent limitations of PVC and latex gloves make them inferior in comfort to the latest generation nitrile glove.
Let's discuss the comfort of cleanroom gloves and what's the most comfortable. We've already established that the starting point for cleanroom gloves was PVC polyvinyl chloride. PVC also goes by the code name of vinyl. And you can see that a vinyl glove doesn't have much elasticity, and if a glove doesn't have much elasticity, it's not going
to be very comfortable. It's not going to conform to the hand. And then next up is latex, and if you look at a latex glove, you can see the amount of elasticity of a latex glove. So latex is going to be very, very form fitting.
But the challenge with the latex glove is that a latex glove has no memory. What I mean when I say a latex glove has no memory, it's like a rubber band. It can be compressed to a small object or a large object for a long period of time.
And when you release the rubber band, it immediately goes back to the shape it was in. That's a disadvantage with latex. It's form fitting, but it's also constricting, because in a latex glove, all of our gloves are ambidextrous.
What we mean by ambidextrous is, our gloves do not have an opposed digit. The primary physical difference between the man and the monkey is a monkey does not have an opposed digit. A monkey's hand is four fingers with a thumb that's on the same plane.
A man has an opposed digit. Homo sapiens. How does this relate to comfort? Well, we're limited in that our formers are all ambidextrous. So basically, man has made glove formers for monkeys, right? If you were a monkey, you would find the glove to be very comfortable.
By that, what I mean is this thumb doesn't naturally rest this way, right? The thumb naturally wants to come up here because that's the form that it's made to. So when you wear a glove for a long period of time when you wear latex gloves, you have hand fatigue because your hand naturally rests in a state
like this. And what does the latex glove want to do? It wants to go back to this state. So a latex glove is comfortable in that it does conform to the hand. But it's uncomfortable because I'm going to hold this glove in a fist for five or ten seconds, and then I'm going to take the glove off
and I'm going to blow it up. And what you're going to see is that the glove has no memory. It doesn't begin to conform to what my hand is. OK, so now I'm going to take it off and I'm going to invert it and I'm going to blow it up.
And you can see that it's a monkey glove, right? So although I would say latex is going to be more comfortable than PVC, it's more of a monkey glove than a man's glove. What I want to illustrate next is our fourth generation,
it's our 4G nitrile glove. The reason why I call it the fourth generation is the first iterations of nitrile were not soft. They were very thick and they weren't conforming. The challenge with making a natural glove thin --
and this glove is only 3.5 mils, so it really conforms to the hand -- the challenge with making a nitrile glove very thin is to still keep it tough, to still keep the elasticity. So what we've done in creating the 4G glove is we have a glove that has a memory.
The construction of nitrile will remember the shape that it's in. So when I take this glove off and blow it up, you'll actually be able to see my knuckles. You'll be able to see the creases in my hand.
So the beauty of this glove is even though it comes from a monkey former, if you will, with prolonged wearing, the heat and the perspiration from your body is going to affect the glove, so the glove is really going to conform.
So now I'm going to take this glove off and you can see on the inside see how it's really conformed to my hand. And then I'm going to take it and I'm going to reverse it, and I’m going to blow it up, and you can see after just a slight amount of wear, it's pretty obvious to see that this is the palm, this is the back side and the natural curvature. So a lot of people remember the $400 dollar nitrile that didn't have this elasticity. And let me just illustrate this glove. Wow. 400%. Let's illustrate this latex glove. So you can see this nitrile glove still has great elasticity.
OK, but because it's thin, it has good conformity. It really, it really fits the shape. Not to be confused with old style nitrile gloves that are very thick, that are not so comfortable. So the clear choice in terms of comfort is not PVC.
The industry went away from PVC in the eighties, and they basically went to a glove that was not very clean but was comfortable. And many users migrated to a nitrile glove that was clean but not comfortable. The first generation nitrile gloves were very rigid.
They were very clean. They had great chemical compatibility, but they weren't comfortable. So now a huge challenge for us is to educate customers that are biased. It's like what General Motors did with the diesel motor. General Motors introduced a diesel, a V8 engine, that was basically a gas engine that they converted to diesel. And it gave a huge bad name to diesels. A lot of people bought the GM diesel that was really just a modified gas engine, and the engines basically blew up after 30 or 40,000 miles. Everybody thought, “Oh wow, diesels are no good.”
Same thing with nitrile gloves. Many people looked at nitrile gloves ten years ago, when a nitrile glove was four times the cost of latex. So it was much more costly and it was a very thick glove that was uncomfortable.
And so if you just mention nitrile glove, they're immediately going to think, “Wow, why would, why would my sales rep be telling me about a glove that costs a lot that isn't comfortable? Don't they know? Well, this is the challenge.
A lot of operators haven't looked at the new nitrile because they have the bias of when they looked at it before. So the clear winner when it comes to comfort is nitrile, 4G nitrile, meaning the fourth generation.