As a specialist division of TBA Protective Technologies Ltd., TBA High Performance Textiles has worked closely with Weir Minerals Todmorden’s foundry team to develop specialist PPE able to protect its workers from the intense heat involved in the metal casting process.

Weir Minerals is a global market leader providing trusted technology and services to the mining industry. Weir Minerals operates a foundry at its Todmorden facility where it produces pumps and other equipment for use in minerals processing across the globe. Employee safety is paramount at Weir Minerals, and accordingly having access to the most effective PPE and workwear for its employees is very important. They have been a customer of TBA since 2017, with the two companies cooperating closely to design and evolve a range of solutions specific to the tasks being undertaken.

Sarah Kay, TBA’s Sales Manager, High Performance Textiles, recounted: “Since early 2017 there have been a series of site visits looking at operations and listening to what the past issues have been with the standard PPE they were using – employees had previously used MM1 jackets and trousers, which are really heavy and can potentially restrict movement. As a result, we have made improvements to both the products as a whole and the material from which they are produced.  We are now supplying gaiters, gloves, jackets and trousers, all featuring the new lighter weight material offering greater molten metal splash resistance.

As part of the process of gradually improving and modifying the PPE we supply Weir Minerals, they have gone through wearer trials and the work wear has subsequently been approved for use at Todmorden. This included a test devised in-house by Weir Mineral’s Melting Manager at Todmorden, Paul Duffield, which assessed the performance parameters of the suit in close proximity to one of the crucibles of molten metal.”

During the test at Weir Mineral’s Todmorden plant in Calderdale, Paul Duffield and his team set up one of the casting jackets on a mannequin just one metre from the 1,0000 C heat source and used thermal monitoring cameras, as well as temperature gauges placed inside the garment to check the heat rise.

While the outer side of the casting suit’s temperature rose to 450 degrees – conditions inside the clothing initially went up to 28.60 C; eventually reaching 450 C after more than three minutes.  This was considered long enough to cope with the average 30 to maximum 70 seconds casting operation.

Then in order to assess the likely long-term effectiveness of the suits, they carried out a splash test on both a brand-new gaiter and one which had been worn over a six-week period.  Both were deemed to perform equally well, and Paul Duffield concluded: “This material is world class and fit-for-purpose in our environment.”  To date, 100 of the high performance suits have now been supplied.

The various woven, non-woven and aluminized fabric styles manufactured by TBA’s High Performance Textiles Divisions are often used within PPE apparel, alongside other specially outsourced materials.  These include high performance leathers, heat resistant leathers, chrome materials and ancillary parts such as zips, straps and eyelets.  The specialist fabrics and materials are cut using precision methods and techniques from in-house patterns and programmable laser cutters.