Microbes prevented by antimicrobial coating

Medical antimicrobial coating for ductwork, interiors and instruments

In a world of touch screens and over-crowded hospitals, the demand for antimicrobial coating has never been higher. Millions of 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; elderly 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, such as bacteria, fungi and 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, such as antimicrobial coating for ductwork, interiors and medical equipment. We also look at the manufacturers and companies who produce antimicrobial coatings in Canada.

How antimicrobial coating works – what makes a coating antimicrobial

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. The antimicrobial additives can be divided into two groups: organic and metallic additives.

1. Organic antimicrobial additives

The organic additives include phenolic biocides, quaternary ammonium compounds and fungicides which all are used for preventing bacteria spread. The organic additives are often considered less effective in person-protection than coatings that use a metallic additive. They namely provide protection to the surface rather than the one touching the surface.

2. Antibacterial metals as additives

There are three metals that are commonly used in antimicrobial coatings; silver, copper and zink. The most common of these three is silver due to the fact that it effectively kills pathogenic bacteria and Candida without harming the good probiotic bacteria. The silver antimicrobial coatings do not change the appearance of the surface unlike copper coatings which make the surface glow red. However, copper is more effective in killing bacteria it is not as common as silver in medical coatings; it is more often used as a bottom antifouling paint in the marine industry. Zinc for its part has moderate resistance to bacteria but is excellent in preventing mould and mildew. Therefore, zinc coatings usually support an existing antibacterial system.

Optimised biocidal action with the right properties of antimicrobial coatings

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:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Antimicrobial coating is active in 3 areas in the medical sector

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.

1. Antimicrobial coating for medical devices and equipment

antimicrobial coating for medical devices

Medical equipment is protected from bacteria with antimicrobial coating.

Suitable coatings: Antimicrobial powder coating or nano coating with silver ion.
For example: PPG Silversan and Interpon AM powders

Healthcare providers are continually tasked with improving patient health while reducing the risk of infection.  This has led to an increased interest in medical coatings with antimicrobial protection for devices and instruments in continuous contact with patients. As a result, manufacturers are looking to antimicrobial coatings that are biocompatible, biostable and non-toxic. 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.

2. Safer interior surfaces with antimicrobial coatings

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.

Antimicrobial flooring

Suitable coatings: Epoxy and polyurethane flooring with antimicrobial additives (usually silver or organic additives)
For example: Flowcrete Flowfresh  products

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.

Antibacterial and anti-mould walls

Suitable coatings: Zinc rich polyurethane wall coating and epoxy paints, nano wall coatings
For example: Sika Duroplast – 100N

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.

Germ-free high-touch surfaces

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

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.

3. Antimicrobial coating for ductwork for better air quality

Antimicrobial coating for ductwork would prevent mould and fungi

Antimicrobial coating for ductwork prevents rust, mould, fungi and bacteria forming in the ducts.

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 coating only prevents spread of currently present bacteria instead of providing long term protection from all microbes like antimicrobial duct coating does.
For example: BioShield Tech – Silver Bullet AM

Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) is a growing, national problem in Canada. The health effects of poor IAQ range from discomfort to a major increase in allergies and asthma, and even respiratory illnesses. Not to mention “mould-related” problems. A major factor in poor air quality is the indoor air pollution which occurs when mould, bacteria, and fungi that exist everywhere in the environment entre our buildings through air duct intakes, or multiply in the ducts themselves.  To protect from this, antimicrobial coating for ductwork can be used, preventing the growth of microorganisms and protecting the inhabitants. An antimicrobial duct coating is also resistant to corrosion to provide the ductwork with the best possible protection.


International and Canadian antimicrobial coating companies

Antimicrobial products available in Canada can be divided into: antimicrobial powders, antimicrobial coating additives, and nano coating products. In the following table we provide you with a brief overview on antimicrobial coating companies and additive manufacturers active in Canada. One of the

Antimicrobial coating companiesProductsSuitable for
AkzoNobel (Interpon)Interpon AM powdersHigh-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, bins and other metal surfaces.
PPGPPG Silversan antimicrobial powder coatingHigh-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, bins and other metal surfaces.
FlowcreteFlowfresh antimicrobial floor coating solutionsConcrete floors
BioCoteAntimicrobial additivesAntimicrobial coating for ductwork, floors and wall; integrated in plastic and metal products
AddmasterBiomaster AM additivesAntimicrobial coating for ductwork, floors and wall; integrated in plastic and metal products

If you want more information about antimicrobial coating for your project, get in touch! Our experts are here to help. Simply send us the relevant details of your project and what you need by using the button below or by completing the form on our contact page. We will then collaborate with our coating partners in order to connect you with the right coating solution or antimicrobial coating company.


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