3D printing specialist SPEE3D claims to have developed a process which allows for existing metal parts to be quickly coated in a layer of antimicrobial copper suitable for killing the SARS-CoV-2 virus — with 96 percent of the virus killed within two hours, and 99.2 percent within five.
Copper's antimicrobial properties are well known: Studies into its effect on the SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for COVID-19 have suggested the virus is killed in under five hours on pure copper, yet can live for several days on stainless steel and other materials. Replacing all touchable metal surfaces with copper, though, is a big task — but SPEE3D claims it has a way to 3D print a layer of copper on top of existing metal to offer the same benefits.
"ACTIVAT3D copper is antimicrobial copper that can be rapidly deployed using SPEE3D technology," the company claims in an announcement brought to our attention by Fabbaloo. "New algorithms allow SPEE3D printers to coat existing metal parts with copper. This is more efficient than printing solid copper parts from scratch.
"Australian NATA accredited clinical trial speciality laboratory, 360Biolabs, tested the effect of ACTIVAT3D copper on live SARS-CoV-2 in their Physical Containment 3 (PC3) laboratory. The results showed that 96% of the virus is killed in two hours and 99.2% of the virus killed in 5 hours, while stainless steel showed no reduction in the same time frame. Stainless steel is currently the material typically used in hygiene environments."
The company envisions its printers being used to coat surfaces including door handles, railings, and push-plates with a view to reducing the time the SARS-CoV-2 virus can remain intact and infectious. SPEE3D further claims that, where required, the same technology can be used to 3D print solid copper parts at speed considerably faster and at lower cost than existing technologies like direct metal laser sintering (DMLS.)
More information on ACTIVAT3D copper, which is only compatible with the company's own printer hardware, can be found on the SPEE3D website. The company admits, however, that treated surfaces will still need regular cleaning and sterilisation.