Softmed, Australia’s largest manufacturer of personal protective equipment (PPE), will become the country’s first manufacturer of surgical and examination nitrile gloves, bringing down prices and rounding out the company’s full suite of locally made PPE products.
Last year, during the height of the pandemic, Softmed established a purpose-built factory in Victoria for the manufacture of PPE products, and began producing millions of medical-grade face masks and respirators for the domestic and overseas market.
A few weeks ago, the company – which has already manufactured more than 120 million respirators and face masks – became Australia’s first manufacturer of non-woven fabric-based products such as surgical and isolation gowns, caps and shoe coverings to meet the needs of the medical sector.
Softmed General Manager Sergiy Tsimidanov says the new health and safety standards sparked during the pandemic has seen demand for examination and surgical nitrile gloves rise – along with prices, and it makes sense for Softmed to expand its product range to include gloves.
“The process of manufacturing these products is complicated, and depends on base chemicals which have become very expensive,” he said.
“Softmed has managed to secure enough of the base chemical – nitrile butadiene acrile rubber (NBR) to produce around 2.5 billion gloves over the next 12 months. This will ensure we are the most cost effective glove manufacturer in the world, with the highest quality standards.”
The company recently obtained certification to export respirators, masks and other PPE to Europe, the US and UAE. This will now be extended to include Australian made, surgical and examination nitrile gloves – which will comply with the AS/NZS 4011.1:24 standard (Australia) and ASTM D6319 (USA).
The gloves will be manufactured at a second Softmed factory in Melbourne’s north, following a $70-million, eco-safe bespoke fitout.
The company is also in the final stages of NATA certification for its high-tech testing lab to quality assure all products.