When it comes to selecting the right industrial glove for your industry application, the choices can be overwhelming. There are several glove coating materials to consider, and a number of variations in coating/sub-types are available. In this guide, we cover all you need to know about different glove coatings, their pros and cons, and how to select the right glove for your workplace and application.
What glove coatings are available?
Since the advent of the safety glove, glove design and manufacturing has continued to evolve, including the types of glove coatings available. Most industrial work gloves of the reusable variety are constructed of a base layer or liner, and a coating that is applied to give the gloves more strength, greater protective properties, water and liquid resistance, or better grip, for example. The most common types of glove coatings are:
- PU (polyurethane)
Within each of these glove coating categories are several variations, including sandy nitrile, foam nitrile, crinkle latex, foam latex, and more. Selecting the most appropriate glove coating for your workplace and application not only helps to protect workers’ hands, but also helps to reduce fatigue, ensure productivity, and reduce waste with greater glove longevity.
In this guide, we will outline the benefits of each of these and to which applications they are best suited.
Glove coating types from Unigloves
Unigloves’ industrial glove ranges have been designed in close collaboration with industry experts, to meet the safety, comfort, and usability needs of our clients. From automotive gloves to electrician’s gloves, to gloves designed for tattooing, food handling, engineering, and electronics, our wide range of industrial gloves and advanced glove coatings keep your workers protected no matter the task.
Below are the different types of glove coatings used in manufacturing our reusable gloves, and their benefits, drawbacks, and applications.
Nitrile glove coatings:
Nitrile is not only free from latex (and therefore suitable for use by those with a latex glove allergy and/or sensitivity) but is also robust and provides good protection against abrasions, punctures, oils and grease, and harmful chemicals.
Applications: Oil and gas, engineering, carpentry, and automotive
Unigloves’ Nitrex 250 and 250FC are finished with a nitrile coating that is not only robust offering great dry grip but also provides a tough barrier against punctures and abrasions, oils and grease, However, this coating is less flexible than other types of coatings and offers less tactile sensitivity. The coating is not breathable, , which means poor grip in the wet and less flexibility in the cold. Nitrex 250 offers a palm coating, while Nitrex 250FC provides full 360 hand protection.
Similarly, to the flat nitrile coating in Nitrex 250 and 250FC, the nitrile coating provides excellent protection against punctures and abrasions, as well as oils, grease, and chemicals. These gloves are best suited for applications that involve contact with strong chemicals, but mean sacrificing some flexibility. T These gloves are finished with an embossed pattern on the palm to aid grip – especially when handling liquid chemicals.
A sandy nitrile coating is designed to provide excellent grip in dry, wet, or oily conditions, and is even suitable for contact with heavy oils and liquids. Providing excellent abrasion and puncture resistance, as most nitrile coatings do, sandy nitrile gloves are a popular choice in the engineering and construction industries.
Dotted nitrile: Nitrex 270NFG
Dotted nitrile provides all the benefits of a foam nitrile coating with the addition of nitrile dots on the palms, which improve grip. Wicking away moisture and providing abrasion protection, dotted nitrile gloves are a great solution for light oil contact.
Double dipping provides nitrile gloves with additional durability, abrasion resistance, and resistance to liquids. This results in a secure grip in even the oiliest conditions, and workers’ hands remain comfortable without becoming cold or saturated. Where heavy contact with oils is involved, double-dipped nitrile coatings outperform other nitrile coatings. However, the double coating generally means significantly less dexterity and tactile sensitivity.
Latex glove coatings:
Latex coatings are famed for their excellent grip and dexterity and are a preferred choice for many applications where grip and tactile sensitivity are key concerns.
Latex gloves should be avoided by those with latex allergies and sensitivities and are not suitable for prolonged use with oils and hydrocarbon-based fluids.
Applications: Metal handling, glass manufacturing, and construction
Latex coatings provide the best overall dry grip of any coating, particularly when it has been processed with textured latex palms, which further enhances grip. Unigloves’ latex chemical range, including Nitrex 440, 645, and 680, provides good protection against chemicals and acids, offers good durability and strength.
Crinkle latex is the superior choice for grip in dry or wet conditions. Famed for its durability and strength, latex is also able to withstand extreme environmental temperatures as well as being water resistant. Crinkle latex coated gloves, such as Nitrex 275BG and 299T are the preferred choice for applications where both grip and dexterity are important.
PU (polyurethane) glove coatings:
PU coatings provide an alternative to nitrile and latex, and offer excellent lightweight comfort, dexterity, and dry grip.
Applications: Aerospace, automotive, and warehousing
Polyurethane coatings are the lightest, softest, and most flexible of glove coatings, offering great durability, dexterity, and touch sensitivity. They are a popular choice where comfort and grip are concerned, however, offer less abrasion resistant due to their lighter coating than some other gloves. They are an excellent choice for handling small parts in lighter contact with oils, and are also breathable unlike flat latex or nitrile coatings. As PU is permeable, it does not provide strong liquid resistance and has a lower chemical resistance than other coatings.
Unigloves NitreGrip Technology:
An advanced surface treatment that provides an assured grip when working in dry, wet, or oily conditions. The technology, which includes our sandy nitrile coating, gives an assured grip finish on the nitrile's surface, comparable to a suction cup that attaches itself firmly to the material being handled. The surface treatment reduces the force needed to grip and allows the glove to stay soft and, therefore, comfortable, which reduces hand fatigue.
Coating types: Palm coated or fully coated?
Nitrile, latex, and PU glove coatings are available in palm coating or full coating varieties, each of which has its benefits and drawbacks. Here is a summary of each, and why it might be the most suitable for your workplace or application:
Palm coating: The nitrile, latex, or PU coating will apply to the palms and fingers of the gloves while leaving the back of the hand and wrists free to breathe. This means good ventilation and reduced moisture from sweat inside the gloves, but does mean that the back of the hands are not protected against things like liquids, chemicals, and punctures – depending on the inner glove construction.
Full coating: Fully coated gloves are covered across the entire hand, front and back, up to the wrist (depending on the length of the glove). For protection beyond the lower wrist, an extended cuff glove should be used. Fully coated gloves provide a higher level of liquid protection and means the backs of the hands and lower wrists benefit from the protective properties of the coating. Fully coated nitrile and latex gloves, which offer a good barrier against liquids, are considered water-resistant gloves and are a great choice for applications where immersion or contact with liquids is involved.
Fully coated gloves in nitrile or latex are not as breathable as palm-coated gloves, and therefore can mean a greater level of moisture build-up inside the glove. Low-irritation inner linings such as seamless, jersey cotton liners can help to reduce irritation from moisture. Unigloves Sanitized Hygiene and Odour Control Function, a feature included in several of our Nitrex gloves, provides long-lasting odour control and helps to reduce microbial growth.
Glove coatings summary
When it comes to selecting the best work glove for your industry and application, you should consider the following features:
- Dry, wet, and oily grip
- Flexibility and touch sensitivity
- Comfort and hand-conforming properties
- Breathability and ventilation
- Allergies or sensitivities of concern (such as latex allergies)
- Level of protection (palm or full coating)
Due to a variety of applications and tasks performed by users, your workplace might require using two or more types of safety gloves. For example, when more dexterity is required for handling small parts, a palm-coated PU or latex glove may be the best solution. Where greater protection is required against cuts and abrasions, chemicals, or oils and grease, a fully coated nitrile glove may be more suitable. Giving your workers the freedom to change gloves when necessary and always access the most suitable glove for the application, is the most important thing.
For help selecting the most ideal glove or gloves for your workplace, and for more information on glove coatings, get in touch with the Unigloves team today.