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What are the fabrics materials for medical gowns and disposable coveralls?

What are the fabrics materials for medical gowns and disposable coveralls?
What are the fabrics materials for medical gowns and disposable coveralls?
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) requirements have been in global demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic; thus, there has been a higher demand on the supply chain, especially the need for raw materials.  The raw material- fabric for the manufacture of PPE needs to be appropriate so that the finished coverall products can provide the most important two functions:  penetration resistance and comfort.  This article talks about the material -fabric needed for coveralls.

The specifications for coveralls are:

  • Quality compliant (fabric performance of protective garments)
    • Impermeable to blood and body fluids
    • Virus resistant
  • Comfort of wear
  • Single-use VS reusable

The common fabric material PPE coverall

Most disposable coveralls are constructed of non-woven synthetic fabric.  As they increase in protection levels, different materials will be laminated together to increase strength, decrease permeability and possibly make it flame retardant.

The fabric type is mainly single use non-woven.  However, there have been some developments with woven fabric to increase the durability and number of uses.

Coating/ Lamination

Coating or lamination provides the additional functionality of fluid resistance, antibacterial property, antiviral property, etc.

PE Laminate Film on PP fabric


The coveralls are commonly made with synthetic fibers listed below:

Single Layer

The most basic suit will be constructed of a single layer of spunbond polypropylene and will be breathable and relatively comfortable.  It is commonly used by workers in paint spray booths or as a basic barrier in nonhazardous cleanup operations in a mostly dry environment.

The single layer spunbond coverall is not liquid-proof, nor does it resist tears nearly as well as more complex compositions.

Materials – Multilayered Structures & Materials

Name SMS 

Spunbonded Meltblown Spunbonded Structure

PPSB + PE coating

Polyethylene Coated Polypropylene

PPSB + Microporous PE Film

PPSB laminated with Microporous Breathable PE Film


Diagram Spunbonded Meltblown Spunbonded Structure Polyethylene Coated Polypropylene  PPSB + Microporous PE Film
Fabric Details Tri-laminated (Sandwich)

  • Spunbond polypropylene (PP)
  • Meltblown polypropylene (PP)
  • Spunbond polypropylene (PP)
  • layer thickness~0.1mm

  • Polyethylene (PE)
  • Spunbonded polypropylene (PPSB)
Duo-laminated (Customizable)

  • Breathable film
    • a polyethylene (PE) foil with microscopically small pores
  • Spunbond polypropylene (PP)
  • Has a thickness of only 0.02 mm and has a very low resistance to abrasion.
  • Fluid and particulate barrier.
  • Strong & durable,
    • resistant to tears and punctures.
  • Provides comfort & breathability
  • Lightweight
  • Coated with PE film,
  • Great for waterproof
  • Provides both comfort level and protection layer
  • Great for heat loss
  • Strong against chemicals
  • permeable to gases (water vapors)


Widely used at high-class protection areas such as medical, industrial, laboratory pharmaceutical use:

  • Isolation gowns
  • Patient gowns,
  • Lab coats,
  • Coveralls,
  • Procedure gowns,
  • Medical face masks,
  • Boot covers,
  • Aprons,
  • Napkins and diapers.
Widely used for a high level of fluid resistant area, to protect from liquid chemicals or biological hazards.

  • Isolation gown,
  • Surgical gowns,
  • Bed-sheet,
  • Sleeve cover
Widely apply to protect on an area of the medical, industrial, laboratory, electronic, pharmaceutical industries:

  • Isolation gowns,
  • patent gowns,
  • lab coats,
  • coveralls,
  • procedure gowns,
  • boot covers,
  • aprons,
  • napkins
  • diapers,
  • rain wear,
  • car covers,
  • pillow protectors.

The multi-layers structures are typically made with SMS structures, PP +PE structures, or application of Microporous Breathable Film.

SMS Fabric

Another popular material is known by its acronym SMS.  This is two layers of this same spun-bond polypropylene with a layer of melt blown polypropylene in the middle.  This composition is still comfortably breathable, but resists tears and punctures and has improved resistance to liquids.  The comfort level is lower than the Microporous Breathable Film.

SMS suits are commonly found in laboratories, industrial applications, as well as sanitation and medical fields.

Polyethylene Coated Polypropylene (PPSB + PE) Fabric

For this structure, the spun bond polypropylene is coated with a layer of impervious polyethylene.  The material is great for waterproof performance and impervious character.  This suit is widely used for fluid resistant areas, to protect the wearer from liquid chemicals or biological hazards.

PPSB + PE is great for fluid resistant protection

Microporous Breathable Film

Breathable films are thin, microporous, or monolithic films that are impervious to liquids (water/blood) but permeable to gases (water vapors). The increasing penetration of hygiene products such as baby diapers, sanitary napkins, and adult incontinence products in developing countries and the increased consumption of premium hygiene products in developed countries is expected to drive the global breathable films market. The high cost of breathable films compared to conventional films is the major restraint for the global breathable films market.  In the use for PPE and coverall, Microporous Breathable Film is great to provide great comfort and protection.  By combining the microporous breathable film with other materials, a new type of PPE fabric is made this way.

Microporous Breathable Film provides higher heat loss %, chemical protection, but higher in cost.  Combined with other materials, new types of PPE materials are made with it.

Customized layers

If you want to increase the protective level of a coverall, one common method to do so is to increase the protective layers and polymers of the suit.   The higher the protective layer numbers usually mean the decrease in comfort; however, if some environmental hazards required a higher level of isolation from chemical or toxic vapors, then a higher level of protective suits may be needed.

Seams Types

Serged Seam Bonded Seam Heat Sealed Seam
Risk Level Low Risk of
Hazardous Exposure
Moderate Risk of Hazardous Exposure High Risk of
Hazardous Exposure
Diagram Serged Seam Bonded Seam Heat Sealed Seam
Functions A serged seam joins two pieces of material with a thread that interlocks. This is an economical stitching method for general applications. This stitching method is generally not used for chemical protective clothing.
It is more commonly found on disposable clothing where dry particulates are a concern.
Bound seam joins two pieces of material with an overlay of similar material and is chain stitched through all layers
for a clean finished edge. This provides increased holdout of liquids and dry particulates.
A heat-sealed seam is sewn and then sealed with heat-activated tape. This method provides liquid-proof seams and is especially useful for Level A and B chemical protective clothing.
USA Seam PPE Level Serged Seam Bound Seam Taped Seam
European Seam PPE Level Type 5-6 garment Type 5-6 garment Type 2, 3,4 garment

Seam Sealing Temperature

The nozzle temperature of hot air seam sealing machines is set as per fabric and tape material. The jaw temperature of the seam-sealing machine should be at least 10 °C higher than the melting point of the material for an adequate seam to be formed. The temperature generally ranges from around 260°C to 350°C. A lower seam sealing temperature saves energy.

Coverall Fabric material requirements 

Fabric and seam both are important for any coverall, and they are strongly associated with the coverall’s protection level.  Considering the common routes of contamination from COVID-19, the critical tests within EN 14126 are listed below:

  • ISO 16604: Resistance to penetration by contaminated liquids under pressure (close contact with patients may result in direct contact with fluid droplets from coughs or sneezes)
  • EN 14126 Annex A: Resistance to penetration by infective agents due to mechanical contact with substances containing contaminated liquids (contact with bed rail or door handles)
  • ISO 22611: Resistance to penetration by contaminated liquid aerosols
    ( contagious aerosol of contaminated liquid droplets through coughs or sneezes)
  • ISO 22612: Resistance to penetration by contaminated solid particles (contact with contaminated dust)

Fabric material composition: Medtecs Coverall OEM/ODM Available Options

For Medtecs, we provide customizable options for our buyers to fully upgrade their coverall brands to their ideal standards.The available customization options are listed below:

  • Fabric Types
    • SMS
    • PPSB+PE
    • PPSB+Microporous PE Film
  • Taped Seams
  • Standard Protection Levels Against Covid-19:
    • EN14126 Category III
    • Type 4 (B)
    • Type 5 (B)
    • Type 6 (B)

For those who wants both protection and breathability and reasonable cost.  Make sure you contact our sales team for more details.

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