What is the Material and Application of Non-Woven Fabric?
Typical fabric and paper coverings fail our medical professionals in the face of contagious diseases. But another option is available on the market for personal protective equipment (PPE) – non-woven fabric.
Non-woven fabrics were first made by recycling unused fibers. Areas that were unable to get raw materials for other types of fabrics after World War II innovated with non-woven fabrics.
From these early beginnings, they have now evolved into useful materials. Non-woven fabrics have places in most industries in the world.
Non-woven fabrics are often substances such as polyethylene. Polyethylene is a thermoplastic. It can be made to stay light but strong. Non-woven fabrics are an excellent option for draping, liquid-repellent barriers.
Non-woven fabrics are often medical professional clothing materials and tools. They are the best textiles for medical applications. They wear like woven fabric. Yet they can protect professionals from contamination by harmful substances.
Understanding Woven versus Non-woven Fabrics
It’s essential to have an understanding of the manufacturing of both woven and non-woven fabrics. How are typical woven fabrics created? In the most basic sense, woven fabric is set up with a weft and warp.
On a loom (hand-operated or industrial) the weft goes up and down creating the length of the product. These are simply strings running next to each other for the length.
The warp is then a string that is woven over and under these to create fabric. These string patterns tend to be visible on cotton dress shirts or tablecloths.
Fiber strings that make up woven fabrics form through perpendicular weaving. This means that there are technically porous openings even in the tightest woven fabric.
This is where woven and non-woven fabrics differ. Non-woven fabrics are fibers as well. However, these fibers are not arranged in a grid-like pattern, but rather all in one direction or simply applied in no directions at all.
These fibers are then fused together. This may occur with heat, mechanical processes, or chemical reactions. This creates a fabric that does not have the openings of weaving.
For this reason, non-woven fabrics like polyethylene are better barriers. They block small contaminants like fluids, viruses, and bacteria.
What Are Non-woven Fabrics Made Of?
As noted, polyethylene is a thermoplastic often used for non-woven fabrics. Some other potential fibers may include vinyon, acrylic, cotton, rayon, polyester, acetate, nylon, and olefin. Depending on the demands of the fabric – such as durability or the need to absorb – one fiber is preferable over the other.
Though the size of fiber strands is not important in fusing non-woven fabrics, the condition of the fabric is. This is why manufacturers will opt for newly produced fibers rather than recycling older ones when available.
Medical Applications of Non-woven Fabrics
Non-woven fabrics have many potential applications. These include construction, HVAC and fuel filtering, car manufacturing, and agriculture. However, one of the most prevalent uses for non-woven fabrics is in the medical field.
The barrier created by these fabrics is essential to prevent contamination in this high-risk field. Both professionals and patients are at risk of various infections and thus protected by non-woven fabrics.
Isolation gowns are essential for the safety of medical professionals and family visitors. In hospital settings, potential contamination must be prevented.
Several instances where one may see isolation gowns include professionals treating patients with contagious, communicable diseases like COVID-19. Fathers being suited up to join their partner in the delivery room before meeting their baby also wear them. Family members visiting an immunocompromised cancer patient in the hospital don gowns, too.
For professionals working with sick patients, wearing an isolation gown protects their bodies and clothing from contamination. For those in the delivery room or visiting a hospital room, isolation gowns cover up their potentially contaminated clothing. This prevents them from spreading bacteria and viruses to the patient.
Isolation gowns have waist ties and thumb lock wrists. This permits security. Gloves are worn over the cuffs, creating a double barrier at this juncture.
They are also designed to be disposable and for quick removal in case of urgency with a “quick-rip neckline.”
Further personal protective equipment made of non-woven fabric includes surgical caps. Disposable surgical caps are worn by both medical professionals and patients entering an operating room.
Holding back hair prevents potential contamination into open wounds or body cavities. Conversely, it offers a level of protection from any splattering bodily fluids for both the professionals and the patient.
Non-woven fabric surgical masks are important in protecting the wearer and those around them.
When the wearer breathes out, the droplets in their breath potentially carrying viruses or bacteria stop at the fabric. They cannot spread to those around them. Similarly, when someone breathes or coughs at the wearer, the masks prevent – to a lesser degree – the droplets from entering their mouth and nose.
Draping or Covers for Medical Procedures
In the same vein, drapings and coverings for medical procedures are typically made from non-woven fabrics. The barrier that they provide in gowns, caps, and masks extends into a larger area with drapings.
When a procedure begins on a patient, medical professionals typically drape and shield the entire body of the patient. Only the affected area remains exposed.
For example, in removing the appendix, doctors only expose a patient’s lower abdomen. Non-woven medical drapes and covers go over the rest of the body and a drape on a frame is often erected in front of the face of the patient to shield it.
These drapes work as a barrier in two directions here as well. First, they prevent medical professionals from accidentally touching other non-sterile body parts. By simply covering them with sterile drapes and sterilizing the exposed skin, the risk is low.
Second, should anything happen during the procedure, dressings shield the patient. If an abscess ruptures with infected fluids, these will not come in contact with any other open wound or mucus membrane of the patient. This prevents further infection.
Sterility and Single-Use Quality
Some non-woven fabrics are washable. However, an attractive point is that they are generally considered single-use.
This is important in medical settings or in care for things like incontinence. It is safer to dispose of waste contaminated with bodily fluids.
Coming pre-packaged, these are sterile. This is important as it prevents the contamination of wounds or surgical sites.
The production value of non-woven fabrics is that they are inexpensive to produce.Â This is important in a product that is likely to be single-use. Customers wholly intend to throw away these soon after purchasing and want a cheap price.
Low-cost production allows the companies to keep the prices down on these single-use items. This is particularly true in the medical field, which expects to use many of them.
Purchasing Non-woven Fabric Products for Essential Safety PPE
Now that we have covered the answer to, “What is the material and applications of non-woven fabric?” shop for the best textiles for medical application from Essential Safety PPE.
When purchasing our polyethylene personal protective equipment from Essential Safety PPE, customers receive high-quality single-use, sterile medical barriers. We commit to the quality that can protect both workers and patients in medical settings.
Browse our catalog today to find out more about our offerings of medical professional clothing materials.