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The future of personal protective products

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Credit the Internet with informing people about what products are available to help them address concerns and needs.

“We get a lot of inquiries from consumers who read about CarbonX® on blogs and message boards,” says Tyler Thatcher of Chapman Innovations. He foresees improved coatings and laminations as a way to reduce the weight and increase the comfort of fabrics used in personal protective products.

David O’Keefe of Advanced Fabric Technologies also sees developments in textiles as furthering opportunities for his company. “I think Xtegra™ could be incorporated into fabrics that are odorless, waterproof, stain resistant, that could change colors,” he says.

For Dan Hirning of Firezat, the future is about “materials development and configuration development.” By providing larger fire shields sewn with Kevlar®, Firezat has reduced the time and manpower needed to deploy its fire shields by up to 75 percent, while reducing seams, which are usually taped shut. Using strong materials provides an estimated service life exceeding eight to 10 years with annual deployment.

Lou Ott says Gentex’s R & D efforts will focus on providing greater protection and comfort with less weight. Kennis Sigmon of Defender, who works with Gentex on the Xscape Safe™ fire suit, hopes to create a combination fire and chemical/biohazard suit.

Joe Smith of AmSafe considers today’s automobile industry as an indicator of what could happen in air travel safety. “Cars now have multiple airbags,” he says, mentioning side curtains and foot protection. “We may do different variations of our airbag product.”

No matter what the future holds in terms of how personal protective products evolve, one thing seems assured. “Safety gets better,” Smith says. “In any industry, you usually don’t go backward in safety.”

Janice Kleinschmidt is a freelance writer based in Palm Springs, Calif.

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