Technical textiles save lives: protective clothing

27 March, 2020

When we talk about textiles, we spontaneously think of the materials that make up our everyday clothes. However, it is so much more than that: textiles for surgical masks, decontamination units, quarantine curtains, triage tents, mattress protectors, medical intervention clothing, aprons, ... Technical textiles protect and save lives, today more than ever.

What is technical textile

Technical textiles are the third pillar of the textile industry, in addition to fashion textiles and interior textiles. It is a collection of textile products that provides a solution for a wide range of social and industrial challenges.

And today there are more challenges than ever. The corona Covid-19 virus keeps the world in its grip. With might and main we fight against this villainous bug. Technical textiles play a crucial role in this. How, what and why is discussed in this series. In this article we highlight protective clothing.


The clothing we wear when exercising our profession is more vital than ever. Doctors, nurses, firefighters, ambulance officers, ... we must protect our protectors well.

The technicality of a garment is determined on the one hand by the raw materials from which it is made and on the other hand by how it is made. We call the latter confection. It covers the entire process from raw materials to finished product; from designing to engineering; from R&D to standards; from cutting patterns to packaging and shipping; from size measurement to follow-up after sales. Many companies control just one or a few elements of this process. At Sioen, however, we have all the steps of the industrial chain to create a garment entirely in-house.

We believe that this is the right approach, because after all we are talking about human lives. Professional protective clothing cannot be left to chance or luck. It is precision work, from needle to thread. Even literally. We have the knowledge, the machines and the people. We have mastered all finishing techniques for clothing and textiles: cutting, stitching, HF and US welding, edging (with yarn), ... have no secrets for us.

Making clothes is more than people, machines and techniques. It also involves a lot of science. Did you know that stitchings (in a zipper or to put pieces together) do not form a barrier against viruses? And that attention should also be paid to the "interfaces" (ankles, wrists, ...) where the connection with shoes or gloves is to be made? We do.

Flexothane® technical textiles

There are of course different types of raw materials that can be used in the production of professional protective clothing. We specialise in the production of Flexothane®, a high-quality technical textile made from various raw materials.

Flexothane® is a balanced combination between a basic knit and a hydrophilic layer that is applied with the most modern coating technology. The term hydrophilic is also used to denote the property of certain surfaces on which water flows out easily. This is your guarantee for high, durable quality and comfort. We use a PA 6.6 knit (this guarantees a high colour fastness, excellent high-frequency welded seams, ...) as a basic fabric with optimal strength and elasticity. This makes Flexothane® Classic so unique and better than all competitor products.


Today, in the corona Covid-19 era, moisture and saliva resistance is more important than ever. Not only once, or limited in time, but also after several washes, and even after intensive washing cycles.

Flexothane® is clearly waterproof, important in the fight against viruses so that no body moisture, saliva or nasal mucus can penetrate through the clothing. In addition, the permeation resistance has been tested on a whole series of chemicals for garments that must meet the EN 14605 Type 4 standard (protection against liquid chemicals).

Our Flexothane® has been tested according to the ASTM 1671 standard with the bacteriophage Phi-X174, which is very similar to ISO 16604, the standard used in ISO 14126 (PPE against infectious agents). This test was carried out at the request of HMS (Health & Medical Services) for ambulance personnel and intervention services, among others.

Furthermore, we have designed a special range of Flexothane® Classic garments for protection against pesticides (certified to EN ISO 27065 class 3, tested to EN 14786, irrelevant to viruses, but it illustrates Flexothane's resistance). A big advantage of this pesticide range is that it has no pockets in which "stuff" can accumulate.

Lasting, even after washing and disinfection

The standard washing procedure for Flexothane® Classic and Flexothane® Anti-static is 40°C (95°C for the Flexothane® Kleen version), but we can wash warmer under controlled conditions. After all, extreme situations require extreme measures, so we subjected our Flexothane® to additional tests. This allows washing up to 5 times at 90°C without loss of protection. Flexothane® can also be immersed in a chlorine bath (5000 ppm - 0.5%) for 15 minutes in extreme need. Note that immersion in chlorine will eventually destroy the bond between the outer coating and the knitted substrate and is normally not allowed.

We also sought advice from our laundry detergent partner ECOLAB for industrial laundries. Disinfection (according to standard EN14065 or RABC, disinfection factor 106) by 'normal washing', with normal detergents and without chlorine can also be obtained at a certain temperature for a certain duration. Disinfection can be done by washing at 60°C for 60 minutes and at 70°C for half an hour.

However, these times can be shortened by adding special detergents based on hydrogen peroxide and peracetic acid. In any case, the pH value must be kept below 10.