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News

Antimicrobial copper: guidance on alloy selection

Copper Development Association (CDA) : 03 June, 2013  (Special Report)
A new publication offers designers, manufacturers and specifiers guidance on identifying the most appropriate copper alloy for a product where the intrinsic antimicrobial characteristics of copper may be beneficial. Its focus is design for the healthcare sector, but the information applies equally to other environments where hygiene and the spread of infection are concerns.

Copper is a powerful antimicrobial with proven rapid, broad-spectrum efficacy against pathogens threatening public health, in hospitals and the community. No special treatments or additives are required as this property is inherent to the metal.

Clinical trials around the world have confirmed the benefit of deploying touch surfaces – such as taps, door furniture, handrails and light switches – made from antimicrobial copper to reduce contamination in hospitals and lower the risk of people acquiring infections, improving patient outcomes and saving costs.

More than 450 copper alloys benefit from copper’s inherent antimicrobial activity, and are collectively termed ‘antimicrobial copper’. They are strong and amenable to common fabrication techniques without expensive tool changes, and also offer a new colour palette to designers, from the gold of brasses through bronze to the silver appearance of copper-nickels.

Antimicrobial Copper Alloys -  Guidance on Selection describes the different families of alloys (coppers, brasses, bronzes and copper-nickels) and gives the designations, compositions, mechanical properties and availability of those most commonly-available, conveniently ordered by colour. It also offers an overview of antimicrobial testing of hard surfaces, details of the Cu+ stewardship scheme for approved alloys and products, and guidance on hygienic product design. A handy list of further sources of information is also supplied.

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