January 19, 2007, Newsletter Issue #48: Seams right for safety

Tip of the Week

When it comes to chemical suit, seams are of utmost importance. There are various types of seam construction that provide varying degrees of protection.
Serged seam. Appropriate for low-level exposures, but not suitable for skin-absorbable or skin-toxic chemicals. A serged seam joins two pieces of material with a thread stitch that interlocks. It is typically used on limited-use clothing where dry particulates, non-toxic dirts, dusts and a low concentration of residual contamination are involved.

Bound seam. The next level up, this is a serged seam with material folded over the edge and sewn on for a higher degree of protection against liquids and dry particulates. The seam is chain stitched through all of the layers for a clean finished edge.

Ultra-sonic seam. Offering yet a higher level of protection, this is a seam without thread - no holes are sewn. Used widely in the medical field and to a lesser degree in the industrial arena, this seam can be liquid-proof and is good for higher splash exposure.

Heat-sealed seam. The highest performing and highest cost seam, this seam is sewn and then hermetically sealed with a thermally welded seam tape. The impervious seal provides a liquid-proof seam and should be used when working with a high concentration chemical. Heat-sealed seams are well suited for Level A and B chemical protective clothing.

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