Filed under: Forging Materials

With the rise of drug-resistant infectious microorganisms and healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs) in hospitals, today’s healthcare industry is focusing more attention on infection prevention strategies that don’t require the use of antibiotics. This has increased the demand for medical and healthcare products made of antimicrobial materials that inhibit the inhibit the growth of pathogenic microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, yeast, and algae.

While antimicrobial coatings and surface technologies are commonly used to reduce microbial burdens on product surfaces used in “high-touch” healthcare applications, the use of copper is gaining favor due to its inherent antimicrobial properties . . .

Antimicrobial Properties of Copper

The antimicrobial properties of copper have been well known since the discovery of microorganisms. “Group 1” alloys containing 96.2% copper are now registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as antimicrobial agents. Amazingly, surfaces made of these copper alloys have killed more than 99.9% of the bacteria that cause HCAIs within two hours of contact in laboratory tests!

The antimicrobial properties of copper were also confirmed by a hospital study in the UK, where surface microbial loads were 90-100% lower on copper-containing materials versus equivalent items made of plastic, chrome-plated, and aluminum. Even brasses, bronzes, copper-nickels and copper-nickel-zinc alloys with higher copper content have been shown to kill organisms faster, although alloys with >60% copper are most effective as a general rule.

Why Copper Forgings?

In addition to the antimicrobial benefits, forged copper alloys are ideal for many high-touch products used in the healthcare industry, including medical instruments, furnishings, fixtures, carts, surgical and diagnostic equipment. Forged copper metallurgies offer superior density and tensile strength, with increased resistance to impact and abrasion that is desirable for many healthcare product applications. Below are some of the medical product design benefits that come from closed die forming of copper and brass components:

  • High strength, abrasion resistance and durability
  • Leak resistance
  • Close, repeatable tolerances
  • Low overall production cost
  • Attractive surface finishes and colors

Queen City Forging is highly experienced in forging a wide range of copper and brass alloys for a number of applications. We provide a unique understanding of copper metallurgy that has led to process innovations for forging high-density and high-strength copper components.

If you’re looking for solutions to healthcare or medical product manufacturing challenges, please tell us about your application requirements.