Hospital-acquired infections have become a serious problem in recent years. While improved housekeeping and new guidelines for staff have reduced the problem to a certain extent, the underlying problem of bacterial growth on surfaces remains. To help address the issue, manufacturers of plastic and metal enclosures and panels are adopting antimicrobial additives that can provide an effective means of reducing bacteria by up to 99.99% for the active life of the product.
Vero Technologies has entered into a technology partnership with Addmaster, a leading supplier of technically innovative additive formulations for plastics, textiles, papers, paints and coatings. The antimicrobial additive is sparingly soluble, providing a slow release of silver ions, safely inhibiting bacterial growth for an extended period, typically in excess of the product lifetime.
The key benefit is that the silver ion material is added to the raw ABS before the moulding process in the case of plastic enclosures. As the additive becomes an integral part of the material, the efficacy of the protection does not diminish over time, giving far superior protection to external coatings that will inevitably degrade through normal wear and tear, routine cleaning and accidental damage. For front panels and extruded aluminium enclosures where the antimicrobial material is added to the anodising process, trials are currently being conducted; preliminary results show similar reductions in bacterial growth rates to those found in plastic enclosures.
The additive, Biomaster, has been tested on over 50 different species of bacteria, including the commonly encountered MRSA, E.Coli, Listeria, Salmonella and Campylobacter species. Independent testing to ISO 22196:2011, using MRSA and E.Coli, has confirmed the effectiveness of the additive. In essence, the test procedure consists of inoculating test samples with a nutrient mix containing a known amount of bacteria. The samples are maintained at 37°C for 24 hours with the amount of viable bacteria colonies being measured.
The European test laboratory is the only one outside Japan to have SIAA (Society of Industrial technology for Antimicrobial Articles) accreditation. The SIAA is a cross industry-academic group for supervising antimicrobial technology.
Vero Technologies manufactures a wide range of plastic enclosures suitable for hand-held, portable instruments and desktop applications; all sizes and colours of the family can be supplied with the antimicrobial additive in the plastic, while the external appearance of the housings is identical to the normal versions. Also available are extruded aluminium cases and a large number of different front panel designs for cases and sub-racks. For OEMs involved in the medical equipment and instrumentation markets, specifying the antimicrobial versions of the products, which can be machined to suit the application without reducing the effectiveness of the antimicrobial protection, could also reduce time to market and offer a demonstrable benefit in terms of enhanced performance.