Suit for ultra high water pressureWater jets strong enough to cut through concrete can be a great danger to those working with water blasting. The protection suits often have metal plates that are heavy and make the suit bulky – up ’til now. What started as a company-based Smart Textiles project two years ago has gone on to become a product. In early December, TST Sweden released a suit which is made entirely of textile, and will revolutionize a niche industry.

“We have developed a suit that protects against so-called ultra high water pressure. That is, water jets of pressures up to 3000 bar,” says Jörgen Lillieroth, CEO of TST Sweden.
Water blasting is common when washing away rust on oil platforms and ships, for example. The jets are so strong that they can cut through concrete. Safety is therefore very important when water blasting.
“Horrific injuries may occur, often in forearms and hands, if protection is inadequate,” says Jörgen Lillieroth and continues, “We have created a suit that is comfortable and easy to put on but that does not compromise safety.”

Textile Solution

Kinna-based company TST Sweden, which develops and sells various types of equipment have sold a model of protective suits for water blasting since 1995. Over the years, technology has evolved and the jets of water have become more powerful.
“We started looking at options approximately five years ago. Because we strive to combine convenience with security, we were looking for a entirely textile solution.”

Jörgen LillierothThe only competitor in the market today is an American product. Not only is that suit (and its name) reminiscent of a turtle – it consists of many parts that are heavy and unwieldy.
“They have metal plates in the suit that increase safety but decrease mobility. If a suit is too complex, there is always a risk that those who have that type of job start cutting corners and are then likely to suffer serious injuries.”

Flexible

The concept and idea was to try to develop a protective suit that could withstand 2800 bars, but was still simple and flexible. Around the same time Smart Textiles garnered momentum and TST Sweden became one of its first company-based projects.
“Smart Textiles made sure we got to meet knowledgeable people from the School of Textiles and Swerea IVF. That really kicked off our development.”

It turned out that Swerea IVF had a project with another company. They had gained a lot of knowledge of pressure-resistant material that could be used in this project too.

Competitive

Development and testing paid off. Last September, the suits were shown at a fair in Munich, and in early December last year, sales of their brand new textile suits started. The secret lies in a number of different layering materials with unique properties. One of the materials is the super fibre Dyneema – which is 15 times stronger than steel and still a comfort material. Now TST Sweden hopes to get a foothold on the American market.
“Nearly half of our market today is northern Europe but we also sell a few units in Asia and the Middle East. We know that the market potential in the U.S. is huge and we will start selling there next year,” said Jörgen Lillieroth.

Written by: Therese Rosenblad
Photo: TST Sweden