Putting Antimicrobial Coating to the Test to Combat COVID-19 in Aircraft Cabins
How Clean is Your Cabin? – March 2021
On average and before COVID-19, surfaces on airliners were frequently touched but some rarely sanitized. In fact, one of the germiest surfaces on an airliner is the tray table which has 20 times more germs than the handle of an airliner toilet*. Even with the best cleaning practices prior to the pandemic, airplanes were considered a “petri dish” for picking up unwanted viruses and bacteria.
With the dawn of COVID-19 and the ever-present requirement for cleanliness and germ disinfectants, many manufacturers are playing offense now seeking antimicrobial options to coat and treat their products. Antimicrobial treatments are nothing new but have become more widely adopted and expeditiously applied in the wake of COVID-19.
As the demand and supply for common cleaners continue to affect the supply chain, airliners are seeking out other methods to control germs and sanitize interior surfaces that are frequently exposed to common germs.
Antimicrobial coating called SignaShield, offered by Signature Plating, was applied to our HX5 thermoplastic nanocomposite and tested in a controlled environment to study the effectiveness of this approach. When coating high-contact parts, the samples showed a 99.93 percent reduction in Staphylococcus aureus and a 99.92-percent reduction in E. coli without the addition of sanitation products.
“As manufacturers face heightened attention on microbe transmission, materials like HX5 will need to be evaluated through that lens, which is why we had this testing done,” says Roger Raley, president of Alpine Advanced Materials. “We learned that it not only coated beautifully with SignaShield, but that it also virtually eliminated all harmful microbes when exposed, making it ideal for parts with surfaces that get a lot of contact traffic.”
Coats aren’t just for winter
Layering up can be both aesthetic and functional, protecting you from the elements while also displaying your sense of style. Much is the same with plating and coating. HX5 can be coated with hundreds of colors and finishes, while also providing the germ protection that is desired.
When it comes to the science behind the coating, Signature Plating’s SignaShield meets ISO 22196:2011 standards for reducing microbes on part surfaces and preventing the spread of bacteria. Coated HX5 also meets this certification. Tests show surfaces coated with SignaShield reduce microbial loads and the potential for cross-contamination, with the antimicrobial protection lasting for the lifetime of the coated part.
“If part coating can inherently be its own defense and not need to be cleaned as often, then you have a tremendous advantage,” adds Zane Leake, vice president of sales for Signature Plating. “We are constantly developing new finish processes to address market needs, and the combination of our decorative finishes with the antimicrobial protection of SignaShield means Alpine parts can deliver weight savings along with a layer of tested and certified protection.”
Customized coating doesn’t have to cost a fortune
Though it may look and seem expensive, adding protective coatings and custom color combinations is relatively inexpensive. When developing a perfect part or retrofitting an existing one, we consider the benefits of coating throughout the production process. During DISCOVERY we listen and learn from our customers not only their business case for improving an existing part or solving a challenging design issue, but we also determine if the part should be coated. Coating applications not only enhance the decorative or aesthetic look of the part but also enable EMI shielding, combat abrasion resistance and help retain thermal properties.
To plate or not to plate
In short, there are significant benefits to coating materials with SignaShield on composite parts.
99% reduction in Staph infections
99% reduction in E.Coli
One time application will provide germ resistance for the lifespan of the part