Medical Glove Testing

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Medical Glove Testing

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Medical gloves are primarily used to protect health care workers and patients from contact with potentially contaminated body fluids and tissues and other microorganisms.

What is Medical Glove Testing?

Medical gloves are tested to ensure they have a high level of resistance to penetration by sharp objects, chemicals, bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc., as well as being comfortable enough so they do not interfere with normal hand function. They must also provide adequate tactile sensitivity.

Tensile Testing of Medical Gloves

Tensile testing of medical gloves is an important step in determining the mechanical properties. The glove material is tested for tensile stress (or tension,) tensile strength, yield point and ultimate elongation.

How Are Medical Gloves Tested?

In Test Method A, of ASTM D412, a die cut “dumbbell” shaped piece of glove material is stretched from either end by a machine operating at a constant test speed until it breaks. The test machine collects load and deflection data as the piece is stretched. Once the test sample breaks, the sample’s elongation or strain is measured and recorded.

The test is repeated on samples that have been put through the accelerated aging process in heating chambers according to ASTM D573. This ‘worst case test’ simulates the glove’s physical properties at the end of its shelf life. This is a “worst case” scenario. Many gloves that have been stored properly, in a cool, dry place away from sunlight, heat and humidity, will have better strength and elongation than the “after aging” test results.

Challenges of Testing Medical Gloves

Low performance disposable gloves rip apart easier than stronger surgical gloves. The elongation can cause the sample to slip out of the fixture causing unwanted failure. Accurately measuring the strain of the lower performance gloves can be challenging if there is any sample slipping during the test. Creating varying levels of gloves can also cause challenges.Thin gloves that will grip and will fit close to your hand without breaking will be measured differently compared to higher performance surgical gloves. It is unrealistic to create a glove for a simple inspection to meet the same standards as one used for surgery.

We have the grips and test machines that are designed specifically to address the challenges of medical gloves testing.

Contact us to configure your medical glove test machine

How to Select a Medical Glove Test System

These are some of the most important factors to consider when selecting a test system for medical gloves:

  • The test machine load cell needs to measure load accurately. The load cell needs to be selected to match the maximum load anticipated (e.g. 10 lbs) and meet load measurement accuracy (e.g. per ASTM E4). The test machine must be capable of a speed of at least 500 mm per min (20 inches per minute) - a higher return speed ensures better throughput rate.
  • The load frame must be capable of stretching the full extension of the test. The load frame must be capable of a minimum of 30 inches of sample travel.
  • Sample cutting dies are helpful because the standard procedure calls for cutting dumb bell samples out of the gloves.
  • If strain measurement is important for your test, accuracy matters. There are two types of strain measurement approaches that are commonly used. First, a traditional light load contact based strain extensometer is the most common. Using a non contacting video extensometer is an alternative approach, and it is desired because it doesn't contact the sample physically. It is more expensive but eliminates any concern over premature sample failures that fail due to the contact stress of the extensometer.
  • The controller software ought to be straightforward and easy to use. Analysis and reporting requirements include tensile stress (or tension,) tensile strength, yield point and ultimate elongation.

Medical Glove Test Machines

We recommend using our high travel universal test machine for testing medical gloves. Your extensometer should be equipped with a load cell appropriate for the strength of the sample under test, with jaws that firmly grip but do not damage the test specimen and with a crosshead speed of 500 mm/min.

If you are in need of a medical glove test machine or any other type of PPE test machine, contact us. We have a wide range of test machines, accessories and software to ensure you get the right solution for your test.

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