Flattening the curve with 3D printing

3D printing antimicrobial copper coatings to fight the spread of COVID-19

Innovation, technology and agility are pivotal to quickly enhance Australia’s efforts to manage and mitigate the challenges associated with current and future outbreaks of COVID-19 and its flow-on impacts on society. With NERA’s support, Australian 3D printing company SPEE3D is providing a viable solution that will help slow the spread of COVID-19 and assist the combat against the virus.

SPEE3D has successfully developed and tested a fast and affordable way to 3D print anti-microbial copper onto metal surfaces, with laboratory tests showing that in just two hours, ‘touch surfaces’ modified by this process ‘contact kills’ 96% of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The process, known as ACTIVAT3D copper, has been developed by modifying SPEE3D’s world-leading 3D-printing technology, using new algorithms for controlling their metal printers to allow existing metal parts to be coated with copper.

With laboratory testing complete, it is hoped the Australian-developed breakthrough can be applied to common touch items like door handles, rails and touch plates in hospitals, schools and other public places, both nationally and internationally.

ACTIVAT3D copper can be used to coat surfaces that are commonly touched, such as door handles, push plates and railings.

“The lab results show ACTIVAT3D copper surfaces behave much better than traditional stainless, which may offer a promising solution to a global problem. The technology can be used globally addressing local requirements, be they in hospitals, schools, on ships or shopping centres.”

— SPEE3D CEO, Byron Kennedy


SPEE3D is an example of how our country’s energy resources innovators are rapidly adapting their business models and value propositions to help address challenges associated with the pandemic and fight the spread of the virus.

NERA CEO Miranda Taylor says SPEE3D’s ability to successfully adapt their technology and pivot their business model demonstrated the resilience of Australian businesses and their potential to help the world combat COVID-19.

“NERA has supported SPEE3D develop market-leading technologies to help our national energy sector, and we’re committed to assisting them leverage their skills and expertise into this important new paradigm to help our country and many others curtail the devastating impact of this global pandemic.”

SPEE3D's technology makes producing antimicrobial copper parts fast and affordable.

Impact

Copper is proven to have antimicrobial ‘contact killing’ properties, and can have a positive impact in public areas such as hospitals, such as aged care facilities, airports, public transport and essential workplaces.

Using 3D printing technology, SPEE3D can produce copper-coated parts for use in a faster and more affordable way.

This project is:

  • Transfers knowledge, skills and technology into other sectors both in the domestic and global markets;
  • Assists in the commercialising Australian research and retaining IP in Australia; and
  • Provides the potential of a technology to help fight the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses in the future.

Through this project, NERA is assisting in the transfer of SPEE3D’s world-leading additive manufacturing knowledge and skills into other sectors.


About SPEE3D

Based in Darwin and Melbourne, SPEE3D is an innovative supplier of metal-based additive manufacturing technology. SPEE3D developed a metal 3D printer able to rapidly manufacture components in a variety of different metals and alloys including copper. SPEE3D printers leverage a process called cold spray, which involves accelerating powder particles within a supersonic air jet. The particles deform and bond onto a surface, building up a coating, and eventually, a 3D object.

NERA has been working on a collaborative project with SPEE3D since early 2018, and since that time the company has received project funding from the Royal Australian Navy and Australian Army.

Project Partners

 

Project Timeframe

Start: April 2020

End: September 2020

 

Project Funding

Total Project Cost: $137,100

NERA: $50,000

* Funding excludes GST