Copper and copper-base powders have long been known for their antibacterial properties, and traditional applications for such powders including antifouling paints for marine use and agricultural pesticides.
The global market for antibacterial copper powders was estimated at around $26 million in 2012. A review by Pierre Taubenblat (Promet Associates, Highland Park, New Jersey) published in Issue No.1 of the International Journal of Powder Metallurgy (Winter 2013, pp 21-27) forecasts that new antibacterial applications for copper-base powders could push this figure to $43 million by 2016 representing annual growth in demand from this sector of 14%.
Taubenblat stated that major new sources of applications are expected to include Cu impregnated touch surface plastics to improve hygiene, microbial paper, touchscreens, keyboards, lightswitch plates, antibacterial thread, etc. Even the ‘grandfather’ of all Powder Metallurgy applications, self lubricating bearings, could be produced for antibacterial applications such as machines operating in hygienic areas where access to clean the bearings may be impossible, stated Taubenblat.
Other potential areas are structural copper PM parts for kitchen appliances, and porous Cu-based filters.