Antimicrobial Surfaces

Germophobes rejoice. Thanks to Wakefield, Massachusetts–based AgION Technologies, bacteria-killing silver ions are creeping into a variety of everyday consumer products, including textiles and upholstery, cell phones, kitchen appliances, and even staplers.

Silver ions are naturally antimicrobial; the trick is creating a delivery system that allows for their controlled release. AgION achieves this effect by binding silver ions with zeolite, an inert powderlike substance that can be incorporated into materials during production or applied as a coating afterward. “When any sort of moisture—like a droplet from someone sneezing—falls on a treated surface, it triggers the release of silver, which then comes out and controls the bacteria,” AgION chief technology officer Jeff Trogolo says.

The technology itself is not new—AgION licensed it from a Japanese company in 1997—but silver ions seem to be reaching critical mass in consumer applications. This is due in part to the backlash against antibacterial soaps and disinfectants, which some researchers fear might lead to resistant strains of “supergerms.” Silver poses no such threat.

As a result, silver ion–based antimicrobial treatments are ideally suited not just for consumer applications but for health-care and hospitality settings—markets that distributor Arc-Com is targeting with its forthcoming line of AgUARDIAN antimicrobial polyurethane upholstery, developed by Sommers Plastic Products Company with AgION. “I think it’s going to be extremely big in both hospitality and health care,” says Sue Huff, Arc-Com’s marketing director. “But I can’t think of a bad place to put it.”

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Composition:
A compound of silver ions—the active ingredient—bonded to zeolite, an inert powderlike ceramic material.

Properties:
Naturally antimicrobial against a broad spectrum of bacteria, yeast, fungi, and molds; tolerant of high temperatures used in manufacturing; durable; nontoxic; and EPA-approved.

Applications:
AgION antimicrobials can be incorporated into fibers during spinning, compounded into bulk polymers, and mixed into coatings and paints.

Manufacturer:
AgION Technologies Inc.
60 Audubon Rd.
Wakefield, MA 01880
Tel: (781) 224-7100
www.agion-tech.com

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