Microporous films – one of the most commonly used medical gown material solutions – don’t provide complete protection against exposure to pathogens. Adding microscopic pores to the material makes it highly breathable. However, this process weakens the gown’s barrier properties, making it susceptible to strikethrough and tearing at critical zones, which are likely to come into direct contact with patients. As a result, microporous gowns don’t meet the highest standards set by the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI). Thus, they can’t be used in emergencies that require the strongest protection against blood-borne pathogens.
While some gown manufacturers have opted to use gown materials with weaker barrier properties to reduce costs, doing so has led to severe consequences. For example, a leading global PPE supplier provided gowns during an Ebola outbreak. Due to the low quality of the gowns, countless healthcare workers were being put at risk and some even died from exposure to the virus. A major recall and a multi-million-dollar lawsuit followed.
To be ready for such public health crises, medical gown manufacturers need a material solution that gives healthcare workers both the protection and comfort they require, and DSM’s Arnitel® VT does just that. The technology is a polyester-based block copolymer thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) and has been used in medical supply manufacturing for more than 20 years. Arnitel VT’s hard crystalline polyester (PBT) and soft amorphous links create a lightweight, breathable and durable structure that provides outstanding barrier properties while ensuring wearer comfort. Easy processing capabilities due to high melt viscosity give manufacturers greater design flexibility that helps reduce production costs and improve gown sustainability.