The future of PPE: Predictions for the next decade
What does the future of PPE hold?
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, PPE (also known as Personal Protective Equipment) has gained prominence & has achieved the spotlight as a basic necessity for the safety of health & well-being of humans. Once the horrendous COVID-19 pandemic ended, acknowledgment of PPE’s importance was done. Many experts talked greatly about the limitations of PPE technology and how the PPE industry has to cope with the technology for the betterment of humanity. With the increased PPE demand, the industry has decided to take aggressive strides in the path of integration between PPE & technology.
"The advance of technology is based on making it fit in so that you don't really even notice it, so it's part of everyday life." - Bill Gates.
The above-mentioned quote from Bill Gates seems to be the mantra of the PPE industry. In the next decade or so, the PPE industry will be transformed such that people may not even notice it. We have our share of PPE predictions related to manufacturing, cost, accessibility, and design. In this article, you can expect some mindboggling PPE predictions and answers to the question: As we look to the future, what can we expect from PPE in the next decade? Here are a few PPE predictions:
Companies like DuPont & 3M have heavily invested in the research of advanced materials. We believe that the most prominent discoveries in PPE tech will be in the field of advanced materials. These advanced materials will be stronger, lighter, flexible, durable, and breathable. These attributes will help the PPE to make them more effective, comfortable, and safe.
The durability of advanced materials will reduce the wear & tear of the PPE. They will be more resistant to chemicals, pressure, and temperature. Thus, the PPE’s longevity & resistance are improved.
Advanced materials would be lighter compared to traditional material, which is often bulky. Lightweight materials make them easy to store, carry, and wear. They are less cumbersome while operating & moving around while working. Lightweight PPE is a boon for firefighters who have to extinguish large fires, health professionals who perform operations that last for hours, and factory workers who work long hours wearing hazmat suits & respiratory masks.
Advanced materials will allow better movement during motion as they are more adaptable. Flexibility also provides a great fit and lesser stress during physical activity. Hand protection PPE like gloves will benefit from flexible advanced materials.
Advanced materials will go easy on the skin by allowing better air circulation. It allows the PPE to be more skin-friendly. Breathable material doesn’t accumulate heat, which makes them ideal in hot & humid conditions. Respiratory protection PPE like masks & respirators will benefit from breathable advanced materials.
Many toxic chemicals & life-threatening pathogens require superior protection, and PPE made from advanced materials can be an impenetrable shield against these forces.
The environmental impact of PPE has been under scrutiny, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, where the world saw the other face of life-saving PPE. The PPE industry generates a tremendous amount of waste even while manufacturing and after its purpose is served. Most PPE is single-use due to its interaction with dangerous hazards, which means tons of hazardous waste are generated from them. It has been a concern for the global population, which strives to preserve the environment. Advanced biodegradable materials can be a boon that will reduce the waste generated by the PPE industry.
Integration with technology
The 21st century is an era of technology. Technologies like advanced sensors, smart tech, nanotech, and other technologies can be easily integrated soon. Tech integration with PPE will be advantageous as real-time data on vital signs & hazard risk levels can be collected. The data can be used to alert the wearer about the potential hazard and provide information for making PPE more adaptable & better. The PPE integrated with tech is called smart PPE, which will become a mainstay in many industries.
Do you want to know how PPE has evolved? Check out our article on the evolution of PPE.
Who doesn’t like customization? In the next decade, PPE will be custom manufactured for individuals. It will completely eliminate the issues of the improper fitting. Individuals have to state their requirements, and the custom-made PPE will be manufactured with their inputs. Custom-made PPE will take into account the individual’s features like body shape, sensitivity, and other relevant information to manufacture a PPE that will have a proper fitting & improved effectiveness. It will eventually improve productivity and reduce the risk of mishaps & injuries. 3D printing is a technology that can be widely used for the manufacturing of custom-made PPE.
Curious ones can check out our article on the psychological effects of PPE.
PPE’s sustainability is often questioned, hence it is an essential factor. The improvement in PPE sustainability aims to reduce the waste generated by it, reduce the carbon footprint, reduce energy utilization, and decrease the negative impact on the environment. The focus of PPE sustainability will be identifying advanced materials that can be either recycled or repurposed or biodegradable materials that nature can take care of. Apart from these, many supply chain & manufacturing methods can be revamped to reduce the detrimental effects on the environment.
Automation in the PPE industry will allow the manufacturing process to be streamlined & improve quality. Automation will also allow the bulk manufacturing of PPE, which will help meet the increased demand, an issue that was prominent during the COVID-19 pandemic. Bulk manufacturing will also cause a cost reduction.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made people aware of the importance of PPE. The PPE industry will strive to drive towards a sustainable approach to improve their manufacturing capabilities through processes like automation and ensure that the increased demand is met. The increased accessibility will mean that better PPE will be available at affordable costs. The next decade will have easy access to PPE with advanced integrated tech.
The future of PPE is surely a bright one. With the integration of advanced tech, PPE will become smarter. The use of advanced materials will allow the PPE to be more comfortable & help achieve a sustainable path for the PPE industry. With increased automation, the PPE industry will ensure that the masses will have better accessibility at an affordable price. In the next decade, the future of PPE will hold marvels which will change the shape of the PPE industry. Many existing developments are to come!