20 October 2022


In this modern world, technology is used for pretty much everything, and the fact that you’re reading this on an electronic device right at this moment somewhat backs up our point! Touchscreen gloves allow workers in various different scenarios to use their phones and tablets all without exposing their hands to all the hazardous environments that surround them.

What part of the glove is actually touchscreen?

In short, both the coating and the yarn (the liner) can contain conductive materials. In order for consistent and stable conductive properties during the wear life of the glove, a conductive additive must be used in either the yarn, the coating or both! For stable conductive properties, conduction must go the whole way from the skin to the outside glove surface, therefore the thicker the glove the harder it is to maintain good conduction, as the conduction has further to travel.

This is why touchscreen is very dependent on the total conductivity of the yarn and the coating combined. It’s all very well if the gloves are touchscreen when they’re new, but they don’t stay new for long! A good touchscreen glove remains touchscreen even when it’s dirty and well-worn. Of course, when coatings get abraded and contaminated with dirt the conductivity could drop, but if there are good levels of conduction throughout the whole glove, the glove is much more likely to retain its good touchscreen qualities.

While it's usually the glove liner (the yarn) that contains the conductive fibres, most glove coatings possess some conductive properties when new (i.e., before the coatings start to wear down) due to the fact that many types of coatings contain some Carbon Black content - carbon is a very good conductor. This content contains a built-in semi-conductive carbon material which gives many coated gloves the ability to work at varying different levels of compatibility with a touchscreen device.

Therefore, of course, when the coating wears away more and more, if the yarn doesn’t contain conductive additives, the glove will no longer be compatible with a touchscreen device.

How does both the coating and the yarn affect the touchscreen capability?

It’s an interesting question because obviously, as we said above, most glove coatings are touchscreen when they’re new but generally the conductive qualities are in the yarn itself. The level of conductivity is dependent on the yarn type and the coating type/ thickness. But how can the coating type and thickness affect the conductivity? Well, if the coating is too thick or is a specific type of coating, the touchscreen device may not be particularly sensitive (or at all sensitive) to the touch of the glove.

As far as yarns go, carbonised yarns and copper yarns are popular choices, but of course they both have their drawbacks. Carbonised yarns stiffen the glove, and copper yarns oxidise and can lose their conductivity during wear, therefore the type of yarn used can also affect the touchscreen capabilities. It isn’t entirely down to the gloves, however, as levels of conduction vary by phone manufacturing and screen type. Some devices (like newer iPhone and iPads) have higher conductivity requirements. So just because your gloves work on an Android device doesn't mean it will work on an Apple device, for example.

How do touchscreen compatible gloves work? And why don't regular gloves respond in the same way?

Touchscreen devices function via electricity. You may be thinking ‘I don’t get an electric shock when I touch my phone’. You won't, but the human skin does hold an electrical charge, which is exactly how a touchscreen device functions.

Our skin is made up of atoms with positive and negative charges, and it interacts with the thin, transparent layer of indium tin oxide coating the phone screen, giving us the necessary controls to utilise the device. The screens on electronic devices are made of glass, which is an extremely poor conductor of electricity, hence the conducting material is needed as a coating. When you touch the screen, some of the charge flows onto your finger and hypersensitive detectors on the edge of the screen can detect the area on the screen that charge has been lost, therefore senses where the touch is intended. Think about this next time you’re typing a caption for a post, or sending a message, or even simply opening your favourite app!

Gloves that aren’t touchscreen don’t possess these qualities. This is because the glove material doesn’t carry an electrical charge and they purely provides insulation.

So why do you need to wear touchscreen gloves?

The answer is so brilliantly simple but here goes – it isn’t safe to remove your safety gloves when working in the hazardous environment that required you to don them in the first place. The excuse ‘I needed to take a call’ isn’t a valid one. Not now there are touchscreen gloves are pretty much commonplace. Obviously settling with the cheapest ones probably isn’t the most practical idea as the likelihood of their touchscreen capabilities fading with the wear is high, but a simple bit of digging will find you a pair of touchscreen gloves with qualities that will stick with the glove until their use is up.

When shouldn’t I use touchscreen gloves?

Conductivity can also be a safety issue as not everyone can or should use touchscreen gloves. Some sectors of work would see their workers avoiding the wear of gloves made from a conductive material for health and safety reasons. Sometimes the conductive properties of touchscreen gloves could cause a danger to the individual or potential damage to product or component. You are basically reducing the electrical insulation between your hand and whatever you are touching.

To get to ESD standards, EN 16350 test for Electrostatic Discharge (high conductivity in the glove) to ensure there is little chance of sparks from static discharge in a highly combustible environment. For ESD gloves like the TG1290 the conduction must be 3600 around the whole glove. Both the palm and back of the hand of the gloves are tested.

For the range of Traffi safety gloves that are compatible for touchscreen devices please click here