Copper and copper alloys are natural antimicrobial materials, a fact known going back to ancient civilizations.

Copper has increasing application in the healthcare industry as the metal makes the hospital environment more hygienic by killing bacteria on frequently touched surfaces.  Group 1 alloys containing 96.2% copper are the only solid metal touch surface materials registered with the U.S. EPA as antimicrobial agents; they can kill up to 99.9% harmful bacteria within two hours of contact. New Studies confirm they kill the coronavirus within 4 hours of contact.

QC Forge has forged thousands of components from pure copper OFC 110 (C11000) and other high percentage alloys, such as copper-nickel alloys, that meet the standards required to be considered “antimicrobial”.

Structural components that require such attributes, subject to exposure to pathogens and difficult to clean or sterilize, may be candidates for forgings made from pure copper or very high copper alloys. Commonly forged alloy, 377 (C37700), often called “forging brass” and alloy 360 (C36000), a “free machining alloy” are also successfully forged by QC Forge. While neither contain sufficient copper in the alloy to be in the highest class of  “antimicrobial copper alloys”, there may be evidence of pathogen inhibition.

Engineers must understand both the mechanical and antimicrobial properties of these materials to assure design selection meets both structural and biological requirements. Design and validation with proper materials may reduce or eliminate costly, time consuming cycles of disassembly and harsh cleaning required for materials that have no inherent capability to eliminate pathogens.

Uses in a hospital environment include medical instruments, furnishings, fixtures, carts, surgical and diagnostic equipment.

Uses in a hospital environment

This antimicrobial feature of copper and copper alloys also leads to applications in schools, government buildings and any public gathering venue with large numbers of people; for example, copper and copper alloy touch surfaces and hardware such as door handles and door push plates – anywhere people repeatedly touch surfaces as they move through a public environment. Use of copper can prevent the spread of disease by eliminating the pathogens that cause illness.

Prevent the spread of disease on copper door handles

Not only do copper and copper alloys continuously kill bacteria, components made from these materials can be expected to survive decades of constant use, remaining safe to use and touch.

Advantages of closed die forging of copper and brass components include superior strength, close, repeatable tolerances, lower overall production costs than machining from solid bar or plate, and attractive surface finishes.  Copper and copper alloys typically have excellent formability allowing near to net shapes to be produced rapidly and efficiently.

Queen City Forging has wide experience in forging copper and copper alloys for applications in EV transportation, medical equipment, fluid handling, and hazardous environments.  We can suggest which alloys to investigate as appropriate for your manufacturing and service requirements.

Given our experience, Queen City Forging provides a unique understanding of copper metallurgy that has led to process innovations for forging high-density and high-strength copper components.