Coatings that Battle Germs: Antimicrobial Finishing

Powder Coating, Antimicrobial Finishing, and the Environment - S&B Finishing

Coatings that Battle Germs: Antimicrobial Finishing and More

People have never been so concerned about the surfaces and objects they touch. Can you remember a time when the mainstream media compared the lifespan of a pathogen on stainless steel, cardboard and plastic—and we considered that news? 

Readers of publications like USA Today and the Guardian are now privy on how long the virus that causes COVID 19 can remain stable on different materials, thanks to recently findings published in a New England Journal of Medicine. We’re translating that information to cereal boxes, shopping cart handles and bleach bottles, of course.

Yet issues related to how germs behave on surfaces has long concerned those managing healthcare facilities.  Independent of what’s happening on the street, the spread of infection to patients in medical settings remains a critical day-to-day problem that affects nine out of ten patients according to World Health Organization data. Now, people like operators of mass transit and retail shop owners intimately understand such concerns. 

They are looking to adopt a proactive long-term approach to ensure public health beyond and above regularly sanitizing door knobs and handrails. One smart way companies inside and outside the medical industry can promote a more sanitary and hygienic experience for the people they serve is by using products and equipment which incorporate antimicrobial technology—in short a substance that works continuously to destroy or inhibit the growth and reproduction of dangerous microorganisms.

Beyond hospitals, antimicrobial powder coating promotes public safety in various settings

S&B Finishing has long served medical and healthcare community by providing expert application of antimicrobial powder coat to medical equipment like blood pressure machines and IV stands as well as hospital furniture. Common non-medical applications include fitness food processing equipment, hand rails, storage tanks and restroom accessories.

Given the current need for critical equipment such as ventilators that employ powder coat finish, S&B is operating as an essential service during the COVID 19 crisis.

“Along with operating in accordance social distancing protocol and with the highest sanitary standards, we’re doing everything we can for customers and our community here in Chicago during this unprecedented crisis,” says President Kenny Spielman. “We’re pleased that we can provide antimicrobial powder coat application for various industries including those that serve front line medical services.” 

Hygiene benefits of antimicrobial powder coat are multi-fold, due to its durable nature, powder coat creates an easy-to-sanitize surface. It doesn’t readily scratch or crack to create places where microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, mold and mildew can multiply. Additionally, antimicrobial surfaces reduce the spread of disease along with the potential for secondary infection in medical settings as they inhibit the growth of any bacteria that comes in contact with the surface. 

In terms of protection, powder coat offers maximum protection for the product to which it’s applied over an extended period of time and in many cases the entire product lifecycle. The antimicrobial technology used is based on silver ions, both safe for human contact and highly effective against a wide spectrum of microorganisms. High temperature stability and superb color retention are other key benefits antimicrobial coatings feature.

With these beneficial properties built right into the powder, customers have hundreds /thousands of application and color options. For small orders that don’t warrant a custom powder batch, S&B offers a two-coat system consisting of a regular powder base and a clear coat with antimicrobial properties on top as well as off-white.

Coating additives currently being developed show increased germ-battling capacity 

Even stronger coatings are in the works. According to new research from the University College London, a coating that successfully kills bacteria such as S. aureus and E. coli in ambient light, like that used in examining and waiting rooms, has been developed. Similar coatings developed in the past were activated only by intense or UV light, much less practical for healthcare or public settings. 

Gold clusters in the coating play a key role in generate hydrogen peroxide which attacks the cell membrane of the bacteria. Although COVID 19 isn’t mentioned, hydrogen peroxide was among the substances named effective against it in an NBC News article.

In terms of potential cost, the study’s senior author notes that the clusters contain a mere 25 atoms of gold, so only a very small amount of this precious metal is required, “making our coating attractive for wider use.”

“Though we’re really focused on the day by day of getting past this difficult time, it’s encouraging to hear about this kind of innovation,” says Spielman. “We look forward to the possibly of offering a powder coat that kills microbial pathogens in the future.”