As we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic as both individuals and business people, protection is top of mind. Corporations across the globe are prioritizing protection for their employees in ways they may not have had to before. As someone who’s spent his career focused on materials and products designed to enhance end-user comfort and safety, high-performance protection has always been my priority.
In my current role as CEO at SKYDEX, I lead a team fully focused on advanced impact mitigation and cushioning solutions, including personal protective equipment (PPE). From a protection industry insider’s perspective, here are a few key reasons to consider PPE made from advanced materials for your environment, health, and safety (EHS) initiatives.
Innovative advanced materials are data-driven, not forged through trial and error. Traditionally, PPE was made from foam. Old-fashioned protective gear often consists of EVA, PE, or PU foam and an injection-molded hard plastic shell. If this foam/shell combination didn’t offer enough protection and users complained, the foam was thickened or made harder or softer. In this way, PPE was developed by mimicking existing models and refining them through trial and error.
The behavior of advanced materials today, like the ones we make at SKYDEX, can be modeled through data before the product is ever manufactured. We can see in fine detail how a product will protect, what forces it will absorb under different levels of impact, and how well it will work in a system. We can engineer PPE for specific applications—from military gear to helmet pads to work boots—versus guessing based on history. As such, PPE made from advanced materials offers more reliable protection.
Advanced materials allow people to move more naturally in PPE. As the PPE industry innovates, there has been an increased focus on providing materials that don’t inhibit user movement. If PPE keeps you safe but also keeps you from moving effectively, is it really doing its job?
In contrast to older, foam-based PPE, gear made from advanced materials provides superior protection from impact in low-profile, highly flexible designs that move easily with the user. This enhances protective capability that ensures users’ effectiveness and offers performance benefits that improve their experience with the product. Ultimately, your PPE needs to be a benefit, not a distraction.
With advanced materials, PPE can be more specifically catered to the task at hand. With so much bioengineering data available today, PPE can be designed to offer true protection for each unique situation. We can look closely at forces and accelerations that hurt people and analyze the odds of a severe injury. We can use anthropometric data to curve and flex materials to fit and work with the human body. In short, we can use modern sensors, data, modeling, and rapid prototyping to think harder and smarter about design and how it will protect each user in his or her specific context.
With PPE designed specifically to address the risks at hand, EHS professionals can be prepared for the environments and risks their teams face. Simple, high-performing PPE empowers teams to meet any obstacle or situation in their path.
At the end of the day, if you want to protect people—giving them the best chance to stay healthy on the job with PPE that doesn’t inhibit their mobility—you’ll want PPE made from advanced materials. Aside from being engineered from the smartest data with the latest innovations in the engineering world, advanced materials can increase airflow, be thinner, and offer more flexibility to users. They can also be more durable and open up newer, more efficient ways for your teams to work. The advantages over old-fashioned foam PPE are innumerable.