In high-traffic environments where conditions are ripe for the growth of microbes, businesses have to take extra precautions. But lately, forward-thinking business leaders are taking similar precautions not just to protect themselves against risk, but also to differentiate themselves in their marketplace.
Antimicrobial additives can be used in many types of coatings to fight the growth of potentially harmful bacteria, mold, fungus and other microorganisms, and the benefits of using such additives are gaining traction worldwide across a range of industries.
“From our experience, more and more people are interested in these kinds of properties,” says Vince Todd, Jr., vice president of Accessa Coatings Solutions. “The main concern is that an additive might change the existing properties of the coating, changing the color, making the sheen flat or reducing durability.”
But Todd says that testing for each customer’s individual application to determine the appropriate kind and amount of additive has yielded great results for clients. The additive is typically a powder, and must work seamlessly with the type of paint, volume solids, desired look and feel, etc., required by the client.
Aside from the chemical makeup of the solution, the additive has to make sense from a budget perspective.
“It definitely raises the price, but our clients who are using it see it as worth the expense. It gives them an angle in their marketplace,” Todd says.
On the plastic coatings side, Accessa’s products are Phlexthane and Phlexbond. For example, after being added to a plastic coating, the paint might be sprayed into a mold. A chemical is then injected into the mold to make foam. The finished product could be an office chair armrest, medical device cushion, head cushion for an amusement park ride or airplane seat cushion.
Accessa clients also use antimicrobial coatings to finish wooden kitchen and bathroom cabinetry. Inside hospitals, where health is job one, such finishes are used for plastic, wood and metal coating projects.
The technology in this area of product development is robust and growing. For clients who need antimicrobial properties in their coatings, Accessa works with a European material science company specializing in developing engineered clay-based additives.
The company uses silver in its products as an effective repellent against most harmful microorganisms present in everyday life, including the following:
- Legionella (can cause Legionnaires’ Disease, a form of pneumonia)
- Pseudomonas (can cause infections in people often with weakened immune systems, as well as ear infections and skin rashes in otherwise healthy people)
- Salmonella (a common bacterial disease that affects the intestinal tract, often transmitted through contaminated food or water)
- aureus (can cause serious infections such as bloodstream infections, pneumonia, or bone and joint infections; commonly known as Staph infection)
- Aspergillus niger (can cause a lung disease called Aspergillosis; can make people with weak immune systems very sick and can sometimes result in death)
“With increasing drug-resistance and growing concern regarding the over-prescribing of antibiotics, there has been a resurgent interest in the use of antimicrobial silver. Unlike antibiotics, silver appears to be immune to resistance,” the company reports.
“The industry is headed in the future to introduce new antimicrobial systems in our daily life,” says Eugenio Gómez, a researcher in antimicrobial advanced coatings at the additive provider. “It will be possible to have a full antimicrobial house or car, every material we use will have antimicrobial properties to protect us and improve our quality of life.”
Gómez and his colleagues are working on introducing antimicrobial properties to everyday materials such as paints, plastics, woods and floors.
“In addition, we are developing anti-mosquito additives that can be introduced in a wide range of materials. It is a useful tool to fight against the important problem of diseases transmitted by mosquitoes,” Gómez says.
Antimicrobial additive-boosted coatings are common in airplanes, schools, hospitals and amusement parks, but those places appear to be just the beginning. The global trend toward developing products that support a high quality of life is leading innovators to consider antimicrobial additives for less commonplace, yet everyday, applications.
Could antimicrobial qualities give your product an edge in the marketplace? Please contact us to learn more.