University of Sheffield scientists have claimed a scientific and manufacturing breakthrough with the creation of 3D printed parts capable of killing off harmful bacteria.
Sheffield’s department of mechanical engineering and the university’s school of clinical dentistry succeeded in combining the printing format with a silver-based antibacterial compound to produce the parts.
In an article published in Scientific Reports, authors said there appeared to be no evidence of negative effects on processability or the strength of the manufactured parts. Under the necessary conditions, the parts revealed antibacterial properties that were not harmful to human cells.
Lead academic on the project, Dr Candice Majewski of the Centre for Advanced Additive Manufacturing within the mechanical engineering department said:
“Managing the spread of harmful bacteria, infection and the increasing resistance to antibiotics is a global concern. Introducing antibacterial protection to products and devices at the point of manufacture could be an essential tool in this fight.
“Most current 3D printed products don’t have additional functionality. Adding antibacterial properties at the manufacturing stage will provide a step-change in our utilisation of the processes’ capabilities.”
While products are often coated with an antibacterial compound human error in cleaning or damage occurring to the coating can undermine the effect. The research funded by the Engineering Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) may point the way forward to a more effective method but investigations are ongoing to test its full capability.