As mentioned in our previous blog, disposable gloves come in a variety of thicknesses. You can measure glove thickness in a variety of ways, however, the most common way in the United States is in mils. A “mil” is a unit of thickness equal to one-thousandth of an inch (.001 inch).
1 mil = 0.0254 mm
So, for example:
2.76 mil glove x 0.0254 = 0.07 mm glove
To put it into perspective, an everyday trash bag ranges between 1.2 mils and 1.7 mils, while a much stronger trash bag that offers better tear resistance is between 3 mils and 6 mils. Other examples include a credit card which is around 30 mils thick and a deck of playing cards which is around 750 mils.
Millimeter to Mil
In the past, disposable gloves were measured in millimeters, however, it was decided that that was not the most accurate form of measurement due to variations in thickness across a single glove. The switch from millimeters to mils provided a much more accurate measurement. For example, some companies may measure the glove’s thickness at the fingertips, which is the thickest portion of the glove. Others may measure the glove at the wrist, which is the thinnest portion of the glove. The variation in thickness across a single glove is due to how they are dipped during the manufacturing process.
Gloves can be measured by mil and mm at different locations, and even gram weight of the entire glove (see below), so it’s important to be wary when analyzing spec sheets. They are not always an accurate comparison when deciding between gloves. For this reason, you should aim to physically compare and test the gloves in person when you can to determine the best fit for your needs.
In 2006, thin gloves were first introduced within the glove industry. While they weren’t well-received initially due to their lack of barrier protection, they were reintroduced in 2009 with a much greater acceptance rate. Today, healthcare professionals and other disposable glove users prefer using thin gloves because they offer greater sensitivity and a more comfortable feel. They are also just as durable as thick disposable gloves.
Mil to Gram
Because gloves need to provide accurate barrier protection for the hand, the move to gram measurements would help standardize the quality of the glove industry and make comparing various gloves much easier for end-users. According to Way Up Scales, gram weight is the more accurate statistic for the amount of material used in a glove.
As the glove industry continues to advance, we’re likely to see a shift from mils to grams when measuring the thickness of disposable gloves. We are also likely to see a shift in the terminology associated with labeling gloves. For example, gloves are currently labeled as “thin” or “thick” and will likely start being labeled by their weight, or as “lightweight” or “heavy-duty.”
Measuring gloves in grams will ultimately help with purchasing decisions and ensuring customers are happy with their product.
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