The World’s Strongest Fiber for Chain Saw Safety
- April 26, 2023
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Engtex, a Swedish textile company based in Mullsjö, has come a long way since its early days of making clothes. In the 1970s, they realized that the Swedish textile industry needed to adapt to changing market trends. To stay ahead, Engtex diversified into industrial textiles and developed breakthrough products like saw protection pants, which quickly gained popularity. Today, Engtex is a leading manufacturer of chain saw protection textiles, with their products experiencing strong growth in the market. In this text, we’ll explore the market and what makes Engtex’s chain saw protection products stand out.
Reduced weight by 50% while increasing strength.
Over time, Engtex has continuously improved its products, making significant advancements in its saw protection technology. They have moved away from polyester fiber to stronger materials, which has resulted in more effective protection while halving the weight and thickness of their products. The newer, thinner protection also offers better comfort, allowing for improved airflow and moisture transport. Users have been impressed with the latest generation of Engtex’s most expensive pants, especially when compared to those manufactured in the 80s and 90s. It’s important to note that the fiber material providing the best saw protection is more expensive, but investing in high-quality protection is always worth considering, especially when it comes to safeguarding your leg or even your life.
Fiber is 15 times more durable than steel.
When it comes to saw protection, Dyneema® is the best fiber currently available on the market. This fiber is manufactured by a Dutch company and is renowned as “the world’s strongest fiber”. Dyneema® is used in products that require super-strong ropes and textile fibers, as well as military protective gear that can withstand bullets and fragments, much like Kevlar. Engtex CEO Patrik Johansson explained to me that, despite Kevlar being a strong material, it’s only five times stronger than steel and has a similar structure to cellulose fiber, which is what the chainsaw is designed to cut. As a result, Kevlar is not suitable for saw protection.
The secret lies in the method of weaving.
Have you ever wondered why chainsaw protection pants are so effective? It all comes down to the weaving method. When a chainsaw chain hits the pants, it needs to pull off many fibers that stick to the sprocket to stop the chain. Engtex CEO Patrik Johansson explains that this effect is similar to a weaving technique used for bed sheets. The threads are interwoven to lock each other in place, making it impossible to pull out a single thread from the sheet. In the same way, the fibers in chainsaw protection pants are interwoven to create a barrier that stops the chainsaw chain in its tracks. This weaving method is the secret behind the effectiveness of chainsaw protection pants, and it’s just one of the many factors that Engtex takes into account when developing their products.
Did you know that the fabric used for saw protection is made using a unique weaving technique called “warp knitting”? Unlike the crosswise weaving technique used for bed sheets, this fabric has a thread structure consisting of two layers of strong Dyneema threads laid perpendicular to each other, held together by a third layer that knits them together. This allows for easy removal of each thread, regardless of its orientation. When a saw chain hits the fabric, it tears apart a large number of super-strong threads, which quickly entangle with the chain and sprocket, resulting in an almost instantaneous stop. This weaving technique is just one of the many factors that make saw protection fabrics so effective in preventing injuries. By using advanced materials and innovative techniques, companies like Engtex can offer woodworkers a safer and more efficient way to work with chainsaws.
Brand’s own chainsaw protection textile.
The protective pads in chainsaw pants may seem like a small component, but they play a critical role in ensuring protection. Engtex, the maker of the pads, has branded them as “AVERTIC” to differentiate and showcase the quality of their fabric. Some clothing manufacturers, such as Stihl in Germany, have also started using this brand to highlight the superior quality of their protective clothing.
Classes of chain saw protection
Many institutions regularly test the saw protection capacity of protective pants. One of the most well-known testing and research institutions is KwF (Kuratorium für Waldarbeit & Forsttechnik) in Germany, which conducts thorough testing of various protective products. Here’s a quick example of a Stihl test from KwF’s testing facility:
Saw protection pants have three distinct classes of protection, each with unique requirements and testing procedures. The standardized calibration pads used in all saw protection tests are trimmed to the same specifications using pads created by Engtex. These pads feature complete saw protection and have uniform characteristics.
Each class of saw protection requires that the chain must not damage the innermost fabric layer of the pants after it has stopped. There are three different classes of protection based on the speed of the saw chain:
- Class 1: can withstand a saw chain speed of 20 meters/second (65.6 ft/sec)
- Class 2: can withstand a saw chain speed of 24 meters/second (78.7 ft/sec)
- Class 3: can withstand a saw chain speed of 28 meters/second (91.9 ft/sec)
Did you know that saw protection tests are done differently in Europe and the United States? In Europe, the tests are conducted on the pants leg at a 45-degree angle, while in the United States, the tests are made at a 90-degree angle and cross over the leg. This difference in testing methodology can impact the effectiveness of the saw protection, as the angle and direction of the saw chain can affect how it interacts with the fabric. As a result, it’s important to carefully consider the testing standards used when evaluating saw protection products. By understanding these differences, consumers can make more informed decisions when selecting the right saw protection for their needs.
The most effective saw protection pants on the market today use the Avertic Pro or Avertic Pro Lite fabric. The Avertic Pro Lite fabric weighs a mere 99 grams per square meter and requires six layers for protection class 1 or eight layers for protection class 2.
The growing market for chain saw protection
The future of saw chain protection looks bright, according to industry experts. With new markets emerging in countries like Eastern Europe and Russia, there is a growing need for protective clothing that has not been previously used. Germany is also seeing a rise in chainsaw use, leading to an increased demand for protective clothing. In the United States, there is a growing market for saw protection clothing, especially among younger generations who prioritize safety. Manufacturers are responding by designing clothing that is both functional and fashionable, offering consumers more options to stay safe on the job. As the demand for saw protection clothing continues to increase, companies like Engtex are expanding to larger production facilities to meet the needs of their customers.
It all begins with the laying of the warp, where the fibers are positioned with the required spacing for the final product. In a massive rack, over 1000 thread spools are available. Thin fibers are directed from the spools towards the collecting reel, where they are wound up at an impressive speed of 60 km/h (37 mph). Each spool has 10 km (10,000 meters/32,800 ft) of fiber. The warp I observed had almost 1200 threads.
After the warp is set up, it’s taken to the machines where the actual weaving or knitting is done. The machines work rapidly with needles, knitting the two layers of Dyneema fibers into a consistent weave. The final product is rolled up and sent to clothing manufacturers, who cut and add the desired number of protective layers to their pants, boots or gloves. Thanks to the hard work of Engtex’s product developers in Mullsjö, the next time you use your chainsaw and avoid injury, you can be grateful for the high-quality protective materials that keep you safe.