Fight infection and disease with antimicrobial coating
In a world of touch screens and over-crowded hospitals, the demand for antimicrobial coating has never been higher. In the UK, 300,000 people acquire a healthcare associated infection every year. These include respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, and surgical site infections. Infections occur outside the hospital too; aged care facilities, laboratories, schools, food processing and catering, leisure facilities and more are all prey to the spread of microorganisms. Antimicrobial coatings work by preventing microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, viruses) from adhering to a surface and destroying the microorganisms they come into contact with. With resistant bacteria on the rise, antimicrobial coating is one way to protect ourselves and others against the threat of infection and illness.
In this article we will look at what makes antimicrobial coating work, and its many applications across the medical and healthcare sectors. We also look at the manufacturers and companies who produce antimicrobial coatings in the UK.
How antimicrobial coating defends against bacterial growth
Antimicrobial coatings work through the biocidal action of copper, silver, zinc, or organic additives. These materials interfere with the spread of microbes through various mechanisms, such as binding and interfering with respiration or destruction of bacterial proteins and cell walls. The end result is the same: microbial growth is inhibited and the microbes are destroyed.
- Silver – The most common antimicrobial additive in coatings and paint. Silver does not change the appearance of coated surfaces and effectively kills pathogenic bacteria and Candida without harming the good probiotic bacteria. Silver ion is also suitable for making nano coatings antimicrobial.
- Copper – More effective than silver in killing bacteria yet it drastically changes the surface’s appearance and is therefore not very common in medical antimicrobial coatings. It is more often used as antifouling on boat bottoms.
- Zinc – Resists bacteria in a moderate rate, but works very well against mould and fungi. Therefore it is a common additive in lightly antimicrobial and mould resistant coatings.
- Organic antimicrobial additives – Including phenolic biocides, quaternary ammonium compounds and fungicides. Used for protecting a surface rather than the one touching the surface.
Properties that support biocidal action
In order for the biocidal action of the additives to be completely effective there are a number of other qualities that an antimicrobial coating requires. The surfaces that are best suited for antimicrobial treatment are high-use surfaces like floors, walls, countertops, door handles, light switches, medical instruments, and textiles such as scrubs, masks, and gloves. For the best results these coatings are also:
- Abrasion resistant – Antimicrobial coatings need abrasion resistance, mechanical strength, and the ability to withstand use, especially for areas like floors, walls, and oft-handled surfaces.
- Highly adhesive – Antimicrobial coatings provide a barrier between a substrate and the environment, and they need to adhere strongly in order to prevent any spaces or gaps in which microbes could prosper, especially in interstitial spaces in textiles.
- Chemical resistant – The environments in which antimicrobial coating are applied are also environments where heavy-duty cleaning agents are used. Because of this antimicrobial coatings need to endure chemicals without loss of efficacy.
The applications of antimicrobial coating in the healthcare and medical sectors
Any environment in which the spread of microbes or illness is a risk can benefit from an antimicrobial coating. Whether there is a need for a hygienic solution in a public bathroom or to protect end-users in a food preparation facility, an antimicrobial coating is a simple and effective choice. Therefore, antimicrobial coatings are especially used in the healthcare and medical sectors in various applications.
Antimicrobial interior surfaces
The purpose of antimicrobial coating for interior surfaces is to prevent spread of bacteria. These coatings are a must in areas where harmful bacteria are present such as hospitals and clinics. The interior surfaces that require antimicrobial properties include floors, walls and high touch surfaces.
- FLOORING – An antimicrobial flooring prevents bacteria from outside getting in, as well as hinders the internal spread of bacteria by providing a surface impossible for bacteria to survive on.
Suitable coatings: Epoxy and polyurethane flooring with antimicrobial additives (usually silver or organic additives)
For example: Flowcrete Flowfresh products
- WALLS – Antimicrobial coatings for walls prevent the spread of bacteria and the growth of fungi and mould; they contribute to overall hygiene and reduce the risk of mould and fungi borne illnesses.
Suitable coatings: Zinc rich polyurethane wall coating and epoxy paints, nano wall coatings
For example: Sika Duroplast – 100N: also used in the Queen Mary’s Hospital
- HIGH-TOUCH SURFACES – These frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, bins, elevators and other metal surfaces require a durable and aesthetically appealing coating with strongly antimicrobial properties to prevent the spread of bacteria.
Suitable coatings: Silver ion reinforced antimicrobial powder coatings or an antimicrobial additive integrated into the material (plastic or metal) during manufacture.
For example: AkzoNobel Interpon AM powders, BioCote Additives and Addmaster Biomaster additives
Guaranteed air quality with antimicrobial coating for ductwork
Out of sight, out of mind, ductwork is a silent cause of allergies and illness. Ductwork is used in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) to deliver and remove air from a building, especially buildings like airports, schools, offices blocks, and medical facilities. Ductwork that is not maintained can become contaminated with dust, dirt, bacteria, fungi, and mould, leading to all these substances circulating a building. Asthma and Legionnaire’s disease are just two outcomes of contaminated ductwork. To protect from this antimicrobial coating for ductwork can be used, preventing the growth of microorganisms and protecting the inhabitants. These coatings are also anti-corrosive to protect the steelwork of the system.
Suitable coatings: Liquid water-based epoxy or emulsion coatings containing silver ion or copper. Copper plating alone prevents microbial growth, but the surface then requires more frequent cleaning and maintenance. Note that bactericidal coatings only prevent spread of currently present bacteria instead of providing long term protection from all microbes.
For example: BioShield Tech – Silver Bullet AM
Safe medical equipment with antimicrobial coating
Medical instruments and implantable devices need to remain clean and free of bacteria at all times to prevent infections at surgery sites or in recovery. Therefore, different medical antimicrobial coatings are applied to achieve such a surface. The requirements for these coatings include hydrophobic, easy to clean, and antimicrobial.
Suitable coatings: Antimicrobial powder coating or nano coating with silver ion.
For example: PPG Silversan and Interpon AM powders
Antimicrobial coating products and manufacturers in the UK
Antimicrobial products available in the UK can be divided into: antimicrobial powders, antimicrobial coating additives, and nano coatings. In the following table we provide you with a brief overview on antimicrobial coating and additive manufacturers active in the UK.
|Antimicrobial coating / additive manufacturer||Products||Suitable for|
|AkzoNobel (Interpon)||Interpon AM powders||High-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, bins and other metal surfaces.|
|PPG||PPG Silversan antimicrobial powder coating||High-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, bins and other metal surfaces.|
|Flowcrete||Flowfresh antimicrobial floor coating solutions||Concrete floors|
|BioCote||Antimicrobial additives||Antimicrobial coating for ductwork, floors and wall; integrated in plastic and metal products|
|Addmaster||Biomaster AM additives||Antimicrobial coating for ductwork, floors and wall; integrated in plastic and metal products|
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