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More Tyvek, more end uses.

More Tyvek, More End Uses

For the past two years DuPont, the largest producer of nonwoven fabrics in the U.S., has been promising a renewed marketing effort for its "Tyvek" nonwoven as increased capacity for the spunbonded olefin has alleviated a chronic worldwide short supply situation. The first sign of this renewed effort is a major push into the protective garment area with the new "Blockade" brand protective garments for asbestos removal workers.

DuPont, Wilmington, DE, and 12 leading domestic protective apparel fabricators have joined in the program, the first of its kind in the country. The company is attempting to overcome the confusion contractors have had in telling the difference between Tyvek and traditional polypropylen protective garments.

"Tyvek has been the standard for protective garments," Larry Gallagher, DuPont's group manager for Tyvek protective apparel, told Nonwovens Industry. "It remains the only effective barrier to sub-micron asbestos fibers. But because different fabrics look so much alike," he added, "we're concerned that contractors and workers believe all protective garments are made of Tyvek and offer optimum protection from cancer-causing fibers. This is not the case.

"Blockade garments will be guaranteed to meet the highest standards of imperviousness to asbestos, ANSI/SEI sizing and labeling standards and DuPont's own standards for durability on the job," he said.

The Blockade program will deliver the level of worker protection that "we believe OSHA intended when the standards for protective clothing were written," he added. OSHA requires that "protective" apparel be worn; however, it does not specify the level of protection. The non-mandatory appendix to the OSHA standard does refer to Tyvek as an example of the type of material to be worn.

Garments carrying the Blockade name will be made of 100% Tyvek spunbonded olefin. Independent laboratory tests have shown that Tyvek blocks penetration of more than 99% of asbestos fibers. For asbestos removal contractors, Blockade garments will mean that workers will be protected from most of even the very smallest particles of asbestos, down to 0.5 microns.

"In effect, we are making the contractor a three-part promise," Mr. Gallagher said. "The Tyvek fabric in Blockade coveralls provides a barrier to 99% of asbestos fibers; Blockade garments meet or exceed the sizing and labeling requirements of the Industrial Safety Equipment Association standard; and garments have passed our own rigorous durability test."

The new Blockade coveralls will be made of a stronger, more durable Tyvek and will have shoe covers made of Tyvek FC, a slip resistant material produced specifically for shoe covers. The garments will be identified by a distinctive breast patch.

DuPont opened a Tyvek spunbonded olefin production plant in July, 1988 in Luxembourg to increase the worldwide capacity from its only other plant in Richmond, VA. That expansion increased Tyvek capacity by 50%. DuPont is further expanding Tyvek capacity with a $50 million upgrade at Richmond. Smaller Tyvek converting and finishing facilities are being installed in major markets worldwide. DuPont also plans to install a new Tyvek line in the Asia Pacific region in the 1990's and another U.S. line utilizing "third generation" Tyvek technology later in the decade.

"Our strategy," said Tyvek business director Robert Axtell, "is to develop smaller, more flexible plants in each of our major markets. The new production technologies developed by DuPont allow us to do just that."
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Title Annotation:Dupont Tyvek nonwoven material offers protection for asbestos removal workers
Author:Jacobsen, Michael
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Date:Apr 1, 1990
Previous Article:The converting of nonwovens: the ability of nonwovens to be engineered into highly specific end uses.
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