Built to fit: Medical gloves and Vaisala K-PATENTS® Process Refractometers

Hands with medical gloves
Industrial Measurements
Liquid Measurements

COVID. Rona. SARS-CoV-2. Call it what you will, COVID has been a catalyst for unprecedented demand of certain products – which may outlast the pandemic. Medical gloves are one such product showing tremendous growth – with some experts predicting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 13% between 2021-2026. To keep up, some medical glove manufacturers are turning to technology to reimagine nearly every facet of their industrial operations.

The stakes are high.

Modernize correctly with the right tech, and you may emerge in the post-COVID world more productive and profitable. Get it wrong, and you may lose market share and competitive advantage. One technology offering significant advantages to manufacturers is the in-line process refractometer. In fact, these industrial instruments are renowned for reducing production costs, improving control quality, and ensuring product consistency and purity.

Medical glove market overview

Like other products that were once principally used only by medical personnel, medical gloves have now become sought after by the general public.

The global personal protective equipment (PPE) market – from gloves, masks and gowns, to shoes and hand sanitizing gels -- is expected to balloon to $93 billion by 2027, according to Research and Markets. In terms of material, the market for protective gloves is segmented into nitrile, vinyl, neoprene, rubber, polyethylene and others. Approximately 300 billion rubber gloves are used globally each year.

Increasing rates of chronic and acute diseases and growing concerns regarding safety, sanitation, and hygiene are some of the major factors driving market growth. Use of gloves in end-user industries, such as pharma, chemical and food, are increasing as well. Additionally, government regulations, such as the  U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), endorse the use of gloves in some manufacturing processes. The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has also weighed in: advocating the importance of protective gloves in hurricane-affected areas with contaminated flood waters.

Medical gloves (and other PPE items) have become a part of our global sensibilities to such a degree that entrepreneurs are now selling protective gloves through vending machines in places such as airports, commuter rail stations, and shopping centers.

We have travelled this road before. The HIV and AIDS epidemic of the 1980s, for example, also created a global surge in demand for medical gloves for healthcare workers and police. Although AIDS turned out to be less transmittable than initially thought, that demand has largely persisted. Malaysia is currently the world’s largest source of medical gloves– at about 65% - due to raw material proximity.

Technology roundup: in-line process refractometers

The reliability of in-line measurement by refractometers, such as Vaisala’s K‑PATENTS® Process Refractometer PR-43-GPoffer many benefits to medical glove manufacturers.

Because the key need of medical gloves is as a defense against foreign agents, such as the coronavirus, it is critical the products are free from impurities and imperfections. Because our refractometers provide continuous Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) concentration measurement in real-time, manufacturers can measure and monitor coagulation bath, latex dipping bath and polymer bath to prevent weak spots and inconsistent product, while improving donning. 

Refractometers also save labor costs and streamline the manufacturing process by updating old processes. This cannot be overstated. Many factories producing medical gloves still use manual sampling to determine product consistency. It takes about one hour to get the sample back from the lab. If that occurs, for example, three times per day, the manufacturer has wasted three hours of perfectly good time that could be used for production. What’s worse, if a defect occurs during the sampling period, the product run during that time may be lost. The in-line measurement by the Vaisala K-PATENTS® Process Refractometer PR-43-GP eliminates the need for sampling and long laboratory tests, providing immediate data for process control.

Future proof

With thousands installed around the world, Vaisala K-Patents® refractometers are well known for their reliability, consistency at scale and innovation. These benefits pose significant value to manufacturers to meet surges in demand - now and into the future.

Dipping baths in rubber and medical gloves manufacturing

Read our detailed application note to learn how Vaisala K‑PATENTS® Refractometers are ideal for the manufacturing of medical gloves. The note also includes recommended Vaisala K-PATENTS refractometer installation points for best performance. GET THE APPLICATION NOTE.


Vaisala: make your measurements count

Vaisala is so much more than just a leader in Liquid Measurements for applications in pulp and paper, food and beverage, pharmaceutical, and semiconductor industries. We're a global team of technology experts dedicated to your success. Watch our video to learn more about us.

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