3-D Printed Objects Kill Bacteria On Contact

First Posted: Nov 13, 2015 10:51 AM EST

Researchers have made a 3D printing substrate that kills bacteria on contact, according to a recent study.

The scientists used two approaches to make a printable antimicrobial material. First, they mixed two different monomers and an additional quaternary ammonium compound with a polymerizable unit. Then, they used UV light to polymerize the entire mixture. However, they found that some antimicrobials could still escape the polymer mesh.

Next, they polymerized antimicrobial groups to help make them form large chains--adding the antimicrobial polymer to 3D printing fluid, which became entangled with other polymers during polymerization. This time, only very little antimicrobial material diffused out.

"The trick in both approaches was to get the mixture right to enable 3D printing and minimize any leakage of the antimicrobials. You don't want them to enter the mouth and thus the intestines, where they could kill off gut microbes," said material scientist Andreas Hermann, in a news release. "We have tested printed objects with saliva. All the components are already being used in humans, but more tests are needed before we can bring these 3D antimicrobials to the market."

The first applications will probably be in orthodontics, where 3D printed retainers and aligners are already in use. In the longer run, 3D printed crowns with antimicrobial properties could be an option.

The study is published in Advanced Functional Materials

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