Copper coated door hardware has powerful antiviral properties, studies suggest.

Dandenong-based 3D printing company SPEE3D has installed copper doorplates and doorknobs at several government facilities and universities, and the technology shows enough promise to extend the rollout to healthcare facilities, public places and private organisations, should they choose to take on its copper coating technology.

Copper has proven anti-microbial properties and is used in marine antifouling paints, where it resists biofilm formation, as well as in hospitals to fight antibiotic-resistant superbugs. Early evidence suggests it can destroy SARS-CoV-2 as well. A study published in March in the New England Journal of Medicine showed COVID-19 quickly becomes unstable on copper.

When a bacterium or virus lands on copper, electrically charged particles – ions – jump from the surface metal – punching holes and killing it in the case of bacteria, or rendering it functionally unviable in the case of viruses. Copper also appears to fundamentally damage the DNA of bacteria and viruses.

“Copper is known to be anti-microbial and it’s already used as an anti-microbial coating in medical devices,” said Dr Bart Eijkelkamp of Flinders University. “To translate that to larger practices such as bed rails, handrails, seems like a pretty logical extension – it may help.”

SPEE3D, the company 3D-printing copper door furniture, commissioned its own study from a Melbourne-based virus lab which showed copper reduced viral levels on surfaces by 96 per cent within 2 hours. SPEE3D has developed a way of using the printers to coat existing doorknobs in a millimetre-thick layer of copper. Each coating costs about $50 to $100 and takes about 5 minutes to apply.

“Stainless steel looks really clean,” said Byron Kennedy, chief executive of SPEE3D. “The reality is very different…it does not kill viruses. We tested up to 5 hours and got no drop in virus levels at all on stainless steel.”

You can contact SPEE3D on 61 03 8759 1464.