May 30, 2012

Note: This blog refers to standards set prior to 2016. For information on the updated standards, read our "Changes to Cut Protection Standards for Hand PPE" blog post.

At HexArmor, we are very serious about testing all of our products to industry standards, then going out in the field to validate those results in the field. Since we deal with thousands of end users who handle a variety of dangerous hazards every day, we make it a point to test our products on both of the widely accepted standards for cut-resistance: ASTM F1790-97 and EN388. Educating the safety community about the differences between the standards is extremely important, as the test methods and results are very unique.

Today we're going to cover the ASTM F1790-97 Standard Test Method for Measuring Cut Resistance of Materials Used in Protective Clothing.

What is the ASTM F1790-97?

The ASTM F1790-97 is the standard most frequently used in the United States as a way to measure the cut resistance of safety products. Products that use the ASTM F1790-97 test obtain a rating based on the grams of weight needed to cut through the material. The gram results are then applied to the ANSI/ISEA 105 scale to obtain a "cut level."

How the test works

This test method assesses the cut resistance of a material when exposed to a cutting edge under specified loads. Different weight is added to the machine, and then a 4 inch blade is pressed against the specimen at a constant pressure and speed until the material cuts through, or the blade completes a 25mm travel cycle. Each time the blade makes a complete cycle, or cuts through the specimen, it must be replaced with a new blade to ensure accuracy.

Limitations of the test

Just like the EN388 test, there are limitations to the ASTM F1790-97 cut-test. Lab tests are great for determining a baseline and benchmark, but it is difficult to extrapolate the results to account for variability in real world industrial applications.

  • blade sharpness is variable due to the fact that they must be changed out for each measurement
  • blade travels in a fixed linear motion which does not account for variability in hazard force, angle, or shape
  • user error and lab variability can lead to mis-represented results

Lab tests have a hard time accounting for the unpredictable nature of hazards on a job site. It is always recommended to do a proper field test with your PPE.