Understanding composite nonwovens

RF5 Composite

The material for medical protective clothing and what it must do.

Medical protective clothing such as gowns and protective suits are made of composite nonwovens, a combination product of spunbond and meltblown. The composition and further treatment of the material depend on the required function.

Understanding composite nonwovens

The most important questions at a glance

What is composite nonwoven (SMS nonwoven)?

Composite nonwovens consist of spunbonded (S) and meltblown (M). The two different types of nonwovens are produced in the composite process in a single production step. Several material layers are directly produced on top of each other and are firmly bonded together. Up to seven layers can thus be combined (e.g. SSMMMMS). The meltblown nonwoven is always enclosed by at least one layer of spunbonded nonwoven.

As a general rule, in medical products the meltblown share is 20 percent. With a typical basis weight of 45g/m², this is 9 g/m² meltblown.

What function do SMS nonwovens fulfil in an untreated state?

Spunbonded nonwovens provide:

  • Strength
  • Hydrophobia (rejection of water and blood)

Meltblown provides:

  • Barrier and filter function against bacteria and viruses
  • Untreated SMS nonwovens are not suitable for use in the operating room.

How does SMS nonwoven become OP-compatible?

Protective clothing that is worn in the operating room must be alcohol-repellent. This property can only be achieved by post-treatment. For this purpose, the nonwoven fabric is subsequently treated with fluorocarbon in an immersion bath and dried again in a heating oven.

Without a post-treatment of SMS nonwovens, the protection against water and blood is destroyed as soon as the material comes into contact with alcohol.

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