Antiviral Copper to Fight Covid19

May 16, 2022

History of Copper

Copper (Cu) has been an essential material to humans since prehistoric times, it was actually one of the first metals used by man. It is a soft, malleable and ductile metal with high thermal and electrical conductivities. The ability to resist corrosion ensured that copper and its alloys, bronze (cu and tin) and brass (cu and zinc) have been used as both functional and decorative materials from the Middle Ages, through the Industrial Revolution, to present day. Because of its malleability, which means it can be easily hammered into sheets and alloyed with other metals, it is used extensively when a combination of strength and durability is required. It is also highly conductive and therefore used to transport electricity and to transmit communication data. It also has many applications in roofing, hardware, plumbing systems, cars and aeroplanes. In short, copper plays a significant role in improving our quality of life (1).

Copper Antiviral Qualities

Copper is also an important micronutrient for all living things and is necessary for a variety of biological processes. Compounds which contain copper have been used as antimicrobials since ancient Egyptian and Roman civilizations and is considered to play a significant role in the growth and maintenance of the immune system. Copper and copper alloys possess excellent antiviral as well as antimicrobial properties and have potential in controlling the spread of infectious diseases. Because of its inherent antimicrobial properties, infectious pathogens can be effectively inactivated on regularly touched surfaces made of uncoated copper alloy materials (2).

The exact mechanism by which copper kills bacteria is still being studied (3). It is believed that when a microbe lands on a copper surface copper releases ions which are electrically charged particles. These ions react with moisture and oxygen to produce reactive oxygen. The copper ions and reactive oxygen rupture the outer membranes and destroy the whole virus cell including the DNA or RNA inside. As a result, the virus cannot mutate and becomes resistant to the copper and/or spread the infection through passing on the genes to other microbes. The laboratory data that bacteria and viruses die on copper surfaces is compelling.

Manufacturing with Antiviral Copper

Copper parts, however, are difficult to produce using traditional methods. While copper is common in electrical applications, it is not widely available in architechtural applications such as door fixtures. 3D printing may be the only tool available to rapidly deploy copper.

SPEE3D has successfully developed and tested a fast and affordable way to 3D print anti-microbial copper onto metal surfaces. The process, known as ACTIVAT3D copper has been developed by modifying SPEE3D’s world-leading 3D printing technology, developing new new algorithms that allow existing metal parts to be coated with copper. This is more efficient and faster than printing solid copper parts from scratch.

Activated Copper Lab Results

The effect of ACTIVAT3D copper on live SARS-CoV-2 which causes COVID-19 was tested by the Australian NATA accredited clinical trial specialty laboratory 360Biolabs in their Physical Containment 3 (PC3) laboratory. The results showed that 96% of the virus is killed in two hours with 99.2% of the virus killed in 5 hours (4,5).

Recent studies have shown that on stainless steel and plastic surfaces, the SARS-CoV-2 can survive for up to three days. Currently stainless steel is the material typically used in hygiene environments. The spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus can be reduced by coating surfaces that are commonly touched such as door handles, push plates and railings in hospitals, aged care facilities, airports, public transport, essential workplaces, prisons and other public places with copper.

Rapid Copper Coating with SPEE3D printers

The SPEE3D team, through its ACTIVAT3D copper process, can coat a stainless-steel door touch plate and other handles in just 5 minutes (6,7,8). The digital print files can be sent to participating partners around the globe allowing the simultaneous installation of newly coated parts in buildings quickly. SPEE3D has successfully installed copper fixtures in buildings at the Charles Darwin University in Darwin, Swinburne University in Melbourne, the University of Delaware in the USA and in Japan in a matter of days.

SPEE3D is collaborating with partners to rapidly deploy ACTIVAT3D copper products where they are needed and are currently looking for expressions of interest. To submit your enquiry, please click on