Advanced Finishing USA’s Antimicrobial Powder Coating as Preventative Medicine

Setting The Scene for Antimicrobial Powder Coating

Let’s start this conversation with a hypothetical yet familiar scenario. You have just been diagnosed with a serious illness however it was diagnosed early and is treatable. You have just gone through a battery of treatments, your immune system has been compromised, and you return to your hospital bed for some well-deserved rest and recovery. Above your head is a fluorescent bed light that quietly hums while you sleep. You don’t know that the light bulb recently burned out and was replaced by the hospital maintenance worker, who had a tuna fish sandwich for lunch. This maintenance worker inadvertently wiped some mayonnaise on the bulb which is now teeming with bacteria. As gross as it may sound, those festering bacteria quickly multiply and spill out of the light fixture onto your bed. Unfortunately for you, your pillow is now infected with bacteria, and your immuno-compromised body can not fend off these harmful invaders.

When you wake up, your family is there to see you without knowing that you’ve become a super-spreader of bacterial growth. Your hands touch the bed rail near the inquisitive faces of young relatives, you spread bacteria to the bathroom door and the supportive bars. Although you wash your hands after you finish, you push open the bathroom door and return to your bed with fresh bacteria. You rub your eyes, eat your lunch, and chat with your family. Unfortunately, chances are you have been infected with any number of secondary microbes that can range from staph to pink eye, to the common cold, any of which can severely complicate your current weakened condition.

This all-too-common scenario could have been different if the hospital had taken advantage of Advanced Finishing USA’s antimicrobial powder coating technology that is available to it today. The light fixture, the bed frame, the doorknob, the grab bar, and the bathroom door push plate all should have been coated with active antimicrobial powder coating finishes that provide supplemental real-time protection against harmful pathogens. Unfortunately, real-life and death scenarios just like this affect millions of patients each year, and many of those lives could be saved with this valuable technology throughout hospitals and countless additional public spaces. With over fifty years of experience offering premium powder-coating services to North American Customers, Advanced Finishing USA is excited to continue expanding our services to include antimicrobial powder coating.

How Does Antimicrobial Powder Coating Work?

To better understand the importance of antimicrobial powder coating we must first comprehend how it works. While the application of the antimicrobial powder coating is similar in many ways to standard powder coating, there has been a slight addition within the powder itself. Silver, commonly in the form of silver nitrate, is widely regarded for its antimicrobial properties. The silver ions, present in the applied powder coating, release onto the surface of the coated components in the presence of moisture or friction. Once released from the powder coating, the silver ions can traverse through the cellular wall of bacteria and actively bind to the DNA structure to effectively block the cell division process. The silver ions will also inhibit the respiratory system of the bacteria and eliminate its ability to produce energy and survive. This process happens continuously throughout the lifespan of the powder-coated component and will not lose potency or effectiveness.

Companies like Sciessent have positioned themselves at the top of the antimicrobial market with Agion® smart technology solutions. As an industry leader, Sciessent antimicrobial technology has prioritized improving the safety and current hygienic procedures within the healthcare space. These specific Agion® coatings have what is known as “smart-release technology” that leverages both copper and silver antimicrobial properties. The Agion® coating is designed to release the antimicrobial components only when the specific conditions for bacterial replication are present. This is made possible by utilizing a zeolite carrier that contains ionic silver to combat the unwanted respiration, cell division, and cell metabolism of microbes. Agion® has been rigorously studied and proven to “inactivate” viruses by 99.8% in as little as five minutes. A condensed list of bacteria and viruses Agion® has been proven effective against are listed below.

Examples of Bacteria & Viruses AgION Confirmed Effective Against

  • Legionella pneumophila (Legionnaires Disease)
  • Escherichia coli (E. Coli)
  • Salmonella gallinarum (Salmonella)
  • Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
  • Listeria monocytogenes (Listeria)
  • Human Coronavirus (SARS)
  • Feline Calicivirus (Norovirus)
  • H5N1 (Avian Bird Flu)

The mere presence of silver ions through antimicrobial coatings such as Agion® in high-traffic areas or consistently touched surfaces could prevent thousands upon thousands of people from getting sick annually! It’s hard to believe that more companies and buildings have not immediately recognized the benefits of adding a continuously sanitizing surface into high-touch areas.

Ideal Locations for Antimicrobial Powder Coating

The applications of antimicrobial powder coating from Advanced Finishing are truly endless. Considering there are no discernable differences in the powder coating procedure and only a minimal difference in costs, this readily available technology should be the first consideration for any location that emphasizes public health and well-being. While our work within the field has primarily focused on health care installations we are certainly capable of offering antimicrobial powder coating to a wider audience.

  • Hospitals, Doctors Offices, & Outpatient Facilities: Any location that specializes in improving public health and well-being should improve its facility cleanliness with antimicrobial powder coating from Advanced Finishing. While standard cleaning practices can help eradicate germs, by the time surfaces are wiped with disinfectant bacteria has moved from one person to who knows how many others. Doors, kickplates, handrails, light fixtures, bathroom surfaces, and countless other components could benefit from antimicrobial powder coat protection.
  • Public Transportation: Hundreds of thousands of people travel by bus, train, or subway every single day. If antimicrobial powder coating was used on just a portion of the handrails and other shared surfaces in public transportation there is no doubt that society would see a reduction in communicable illnesses among these populations.
  • Municipal Buildings: Any government or public use building that sees an influx of traffic during business hours should consider incorporating antimicrobial powder coating into the building infrastructure. Again, manual disinfection practices need to be more consistent to prevent bacteria from spreading to a wide group of people in a matter of minutes or hours.
  • Schools & Universities: The use of antimicrobial powder coating in schools and universities would indicate a proactive approach to creating a healthier, cleaner, and safer learning environment. With applications ranging from door handles to lockers and other high-touch surfaces, students, teachers, and administrative personnel can be adequately protected from the spread of unwanted illnesses.
  • Airports: As we learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, illnesses can quickly spread internationally through airport travel. By incorporating antimicrobial powder coating into new construction and retrofit projects, airports can quickly become far safer for travelers than they have been in the past. Once again, light fixtures, handrails, bathroom surfaces, countertops, and armrests could all be easily powder coated with silver ion protection.

So, the next time you run your hand along a railing in an airport or push open a door at a rest stop on the highway, or step on a scale at your doctor’s office in bare feet, think about who touched it last, and what unseen organisms they might have left for you. And know that if it were coated with an active antimicrobial coating, or was made with antimicrobial materials, you wouldn’t have to worry. If you or someone you know is in the scenario described above, ask yourself how important this technology can be in your life.

Antimicrobial Powder Coating from Advanced Finishing USA

For many years, stainless steel has been the material of choice for products requiring a sterile service. Stainless steel is a low-carbon steel alloy that is extremely resistant to corrosion and oxidation. This makes it ideal for applications that require constant cleaning with strong antiseptic cleaners and sterilizing chemicals. Unfortunately, stainless steel has two major drawbacks; it is not resistant to bacterial growth, and it is very expensive. Also, a stainless steel grab bar in a bathroom must still be manually cleaned and thoroughly disinfected to kill the bacteria on its surface. If an area is missed, the bacteria remain. Only an active antimicrobial surface can remain free of bacteria indefinitely, and only an antimicrobial coating or component can provide that surface.

A less expensive carbon steel that has been powder coated with antimicrobial material will still hold up to the chemical cleaning but will cost less and be considerably more effective in reducing the chances of secondary infection. There are several different types of antimicrobial coatings currently available.

  • Silver Ions: Some antimicrobial coatings are based on the natural neutralizing effect silver has on bacteria, which goes back to the early use of silverware and silver drinking vessels. This is the most common form of antimicrobial powder coatings and the singular method offered by Advanced Finishing.
  • Complex Geometry: Other antimicrobial coatings use aggressive geometry to pierce the bacterial cell membranes and inhibit cell reproduction. One example of this technology is antimicrobial copper nanocomposite coating. This method is not quite as effective as the use of silver ions and is still in the early stages of development.
  • Additional Chemicals: Lastly, other antimicrobial products incorporate chemicals such as chlorine to kill germs and bacteria. The original purpose of using silver within powder coating finishes was to reduce the need for further chemical treatments and provide a somewhat more natural or non-toxic solution.

The idea is to provide a surface environment that is incompatible with the existence and reproduction of microorganisms, which will remain that way for the life of the product. In most cases, there is a body of evidence to suggest that none of these methods result in a modified or mutated strain of the resistant or adaptive organism, and all methods have data promoting their effectiveness.

I understand that organizations like the Gates Foundation, who are fighting the good fight against sickness and disease, are building new facilities to carry them through the next decade. I have to ask, “Have they considered using antimicrobial coatings and materials for their table tops, handrails, door knobs, push plates, grab bars in bathrooms, elevators, wall plates, etc. to minimize the spread of common illnesses?” Does your organization? Is the government considering this when they build a new airport terminal? A new school? A new hospital wing? Will they spend their money on traditional stainless steel products or will they use the 21st-century antimicrobial powder coating technology that is readily available through Advanced Finishing USA and hardly cost-prohibitive?

Contact Advanced Finishing for Antimicrobial Powder Coating

I am not a doctor, my profession is in metal finishing and powder coating. One of the areas I have been concentrating on over the last several years is antimicrobial powder coating finishes. I have been working with them and promoting their use for all applications that involve medical products, hospitals, food services, schools and universities, mass transit, and high pedestrian traffic public locations, with limited success to date. The technology is proven, and the cost is insignificant compared to the standard material used (stainless steel) and the tangential cost of secondary infection. This technology is readily available and can be applied to practically any metal or MDF product. You can reach out to a member of our knowledgeable and friendly team at any point to receive more information or to start the quoting process of applying antimicrobial powder coating to your next project. We firmly believe in the wide-ranging applications this technology holds and the importance it will have in creating a healthier future for us all!

Contact AFUSA Today

Greg Yahn is the owner of Advanced Finishing USA (AFUSA), formerly Erie Advanced Manufacturing, located in Fairview, PA. AFUSA is one of the largest capacity powder coating companies in the northeastern USA, since 1970. AFUSA is also a wood grain powder coating company and certified Decoral Licensee, capable of sublimating various wood grains, marbles, granites, and other computer-generated designs, patterns into powder-coated products. AFUSA has one of the largest capacity wood grain powder coating operations in North America. You can reach Greg Yahn at 814-474-5200 or

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