Antiviral Copper AM Process Safeguards Touch Surfaces from Coronavirus

The process, dubbed Activat3D copper, was developed by Australian company Spee3D by modifying its metal 3D printer technology.


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Activat3D copper end product

Australian company Spee3D has successfully developed and tested a fast and cost-effective way to 3D print anti-microbial copper onto metal surfaces. Laboratory tests have shown that touch surfaces modified by this process “contact kills” 96% of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in two hours.

The process, which the company is calling Activat3D copper, was developed by creating algorithms for the metal printers allowing the coating of existing metal parts. Copper parts are difficult to produce using traditional methods and thus 3D printing may be the only tool available to rapidly deploy copper, the company says. 

360Biolabs, an Australian clinical trial laboratory, tested the effect of Activat3D copper on live SARS-CoV-2. The results showed that 96% of the virus is killed in two hours, a percentage reaching 99.2% at the 5-hour mark. Stainless steel showed no reduction in the same timeframe. (Stainless steel is currently the material typically used in hygienic environments.)

With laboratory testing complete, it is hoped the process can be applied to common touch items like door handles, rails and touch plates in hospitals, schools and other public places.

Digital print files have been sent to participating partners around internationally, allowing the simultaneous installation of newly-coated parts in buildings in the United States, Asia and Australia. 

Assistant director of digital design and additive manufacturing at the University of Delaware, Larry Holmes, comments on his institution’s part in the collaboration: “We recognized the importance of developing simple, yet highly impactful, solutions that have been proven effective on COVID-19. Recognizing supply chain shortfalls over the last couple of months, it was clear to this team that fabrication speed was a priority. Using this technology, we are able to rapidly transition safe options for high-touch surfaces.”