How Are Vinyl Gloves Made?

Vinyl gloves are a popular and widely available alternative to gloves made of natural rubbers, such as disposable latex gloves. This 100% synthetic rubber is latex-free and ideal for preventing allergic reactions commonly associated with wearing natural rubber products.

Properties of Vinyl

Vinyl is the short name of a material called Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), a well-known petroleum-based plastic polymer.

This material is the same type as the one used to make hard plastic parts, such as PVC piping. The only difference between a vinyl glove and a PVC pipe is the presence of a plasticizer, which makes the material soft and flexible enough to be turned into a glove.

Like nitrile, PVC is a 100% synthetic material, unlike latex, which can be natural or synthetic. PVC is an inexpensive material, costing much less to produce than nitrile and vinyl gloves. The main advantage of PVC is its latex-free composition, preventing the wearer from experiencing the harmful symptoms of latex allergies.

The tradeoff for the cost-effectiveness of vinyl is its moderate durability. It has only a moderate chemical resistance and less puncture resistance than latex and nitrile, making it suitable only for low-risk applications and tasks, such as foodservice, janitorial and sanitary work, or first-aid training.

Vinyl is also notable for being anti-static, making it a popular choice for handling electronics and computer equipment.


From Raw Materials to Vinyl Disposable Gloves

The manufacturing process of a vinyl glove is similar to other types of gloves made of synthetic rubbers.

First, PVC must be produced at a polymer production facility through the polymerization of vinyl chloride monomers. The raw PVC material then receives a plasticizer, making it soft and pliable before being sent to a glove production facility.

Once prepared, the plasticized PVC follows roughly the same manufacturing process as a standard latex glove:

  • The manufacturing machines are fitted with hand formers, which are ceramic hand-shaped objects. They are cleaned, disinfected, and dried before starting the process.
  • The machines dip the hand formers into plasticized PVC tanks, then expose them to very high temperatures, causing the PVC to form into gloves as they dry.
  • The newly-formed gloves may undergo one of two treatment processes: chlorination or polymer coating. Both processes improve the glove’s fit.
  • After treatment, the gloves are stripped off the formers with blasts of air.

The treatment processes are as follows:

  • Chlorination exposes the gloves to chlorine gases, hardening them and making them slicker, in turn making it easier to don and doff.
  • Polymer coating lubricates the gloves with an additional polymer layer, achieving similar effects to chlorination.

Quality Control

Once manufactured, vinyl gloves must pass Quality Control (QC). The QC test for disposable gloves is ASTM D4647 / D4647M, colloquially known as the pinhole leak test.

The testing process involves filling a batch of gloves with one liter of water, hanging them upside down for two minutes, and counting the number of failures (gloves leaking water).

Exam gloves must pass more stringent standards than industrial-grade gloves. If too many gloves fail, the entire batch is discarded. Otherwise, the gloves move on to packaging, shipping, and finally, retail.

Get Top Quality Vinyl Gloves at ICU Production

ICU Production, Inc. is a trusted personal protective equipment supplier based in California. We have over a decade of experience testing, producing, and outfitting clients worldwide with high-quality PPE, including vinyl gloves, face masks, medical gowns, and more. For more information about our products, call us at (323) 881-3279.