Research Looks at Self-Sanitizing Coatings
Research at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, has revealed a new self-sanitizing surface coating that aims to help address infection control in hospitals, food processing plants, public transportation and other commercial places.
“Infection control is an ongoing challenge in hospitals,” Lucas said.
“Surface contamination and subsequent microbial transmission are known contributors to this. My design for a self-sanitizing surface coating serves to address this growing problem, and the results are very promising. These antimicrobial coatings can be applied to high contact surfaces where there is a risk of contamination, including medical facilities, food processing plants and public transport surfaces.”
The unique features of Lucas' research, according to the university, include the novelty of multi-step and multi-process additive manufacturing through the use of cold spray and polymer 3D printing.
These techniques offer design freedom and manufacturing versatility, which means that manufactured parts can be retrofitted into existing hospital surfaces.
The coatings are made from various metals with known antimicrobial properties, including combinations of copper, silver and zinc.
“The most promising particle-embedded cold spray polymer metallized coatings were found to be effective self-sanitizing surface coatings,” according to the university.
“Under simulated touch-contact conditions copper coatings on various polymer substrates, for example, repeatedly achieved complete microbial elimination within only a 15-minute contact period. These tests were conducted under laboratory conditions against a variety of dangerous pathogens that are found in hospital high-contact surfaces including a multi-drug-resistant Staph strain. Thus, the potential of these coatings for the mitigation of surface contact transmission of infections was confirmed.”
Preliminary pilot studies validated this, as well.
“The next steps include verifying the safety of the coatings for the intended application and to assess the coatings’ efficacy in real world hospital high contact surface environments. This would be the start of taking the technology to market,” said Lucas.
The development of the technology is currently ongoing.