Proper protective material designs

Material design is critical in the development of a desirable chemical/biological (CB) protective garment. Users often seek material/clothing that is lightweight, comfortable, durable, low cost, easy care, requires little maintenance, and is compatible with existing individual equipment. In order to develop such material and clothing systems, optimal design work involves contributions from multi-disciplinary engineers and scientists from government, academia, and private industry in addition to clothing designers, coaters/laminators, fabricators, and the ultimate end-users for final wear assessments. Several different aspects of the importance of proper material designs must be considered. These aspect include: (i) the different types of protective fabrics which are discussed in section 20.3 and trade-off between protection from toxic chemicals and hazardous microorganisms, and user comfort; (ii) material performance, garment durability, designs of garments and their closure interfaces; (iii) the intended use, environment, productivity, and cost. These aspects are discussed in this section.

CB protective clothing systems have been continually developed and improved over the years. These clothing systems differ in their protective materials, shell and liner fabrics, garment designs, and interfaces/closures (e.g., between gloves and jacket) based on the different levels of protection required and the operating environment. Their common purpose, however, is to provide the user with appropriate protection from hazardous chemicals, toxins, and deadly microscopic organisms. Therefore, the material designers as well as garment designers must understand the protective mechanism(s) in current garments, their components, and functions in order to develop effective CB protective clothing. The users' needs and the intended operational environment are also important. Information on these needs is frequently obtained through interviews, surveys, and/or questionnaires. However, since the protective material is the main component in the design of a CB protective clothing uniform against harmful chemicals and microorganisms, a basic understanding of the following areas is necessary: (i) protection capabilities of current materials; (ii) different concepts of protective materials; (iii) compatibility and integration of protective materials; (iv) wear comfort and material durability; (v) affordability.

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