Company Makes Protective Clothing to Fight Ebola

Ebola virus researchers
Posted at 12:00 PM, Oct 09, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-09 08:19:52-04

GUNTERSVILLE, AL (WAAY) -- A manufacturing plant in the Alabama is joining the fight against Ebola. Kappler Inc. is in high demand for its protective clothing. Organizations worldwide are requesting suits in the thousands.

No cameras are allowed on the property, but they made an exception for us.

The company makes mid to high range chemical protective clothing. Simply put, “We keep bad stuff off people,” said Technical Director Philip Mann.

They're primarily known for their Hazmat suits. But, that's rapidly changing. Their ProVent suit is creating a lot of buzz in the fight against Ebola.

"ProVent is a micro porous product that holds out blood and body fluid. It allows moisture vapor to transmit, making it more comfortable to wear,” said Mann.

Which is important, since U.S. aid workers in Liberia complained they could only wear protective clothing in short spurts because the material makes then overheat.

So, how do you make a fluid-resistant suit? First, you test the fabric.

"For that product maybe 40-50,000 yards of fabric that's 60-inches wide in a big roll. We break it, we pull samples and poke holes in it, we burn it, and do everything we need to do to make sure it meets our specifications,” said Mann.

Next, is assembly. But, how do you sew a garment without poking holes in it?

"We do seal seaming through an ultrasonic seal process and a sewn and hot air seal. We stitch the garment, then we take a barrier tape and seal over the stitching to make it impervious to the fluid,” said Mann.

Keeping up with supply and demand

They're having a hard time keeping up with demand. And when medical protective gear is only a small part of the Hazmat suit business, it is easy to understand why.

"Supply is difficult. We don't have as much capacity producing those types of products,” said Mann.

Kappler says they will donate 1,000 garments to the group "National Nurses United" in Liberia.