Scientific evidence has shown that certain metal alloys containing copper have antimicrobial and antiviral properties.1,3,4,5 Studies have also demonstrated that certain coatings containing these alloys applied to the surface of products can provide antimicrobial protection of the surface.2

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How are metals like copper antimicrobial?

Several possible pathways exist for how metals like copper destroy microorganisms. Metal ions are thought to play a key role. Upon contact, ions of copper can damage cell membranes and disrupt the internal functions critical to the viability of bacteria, viruses, and fungi.4 While toxic to many microorganisms, copper surfaces are safe to touch and are used extensively in medical devices, water purification/distribution, dental products, food service, and textiles.1

PVD Copper bath fixtures

Challenges to manufacturing products from copper alloys

Some challenges to manufacturing products out of copper alloys are high manufacturing cost, weight, and durability. An alternative is to apply a thin, durable copper-containing metal coating on a product’s surface using a physical vapor deposition (PVD) process. PVD coatings are used extensively on a broad range of products ranging from medical devices, bath and kitchen hardware, door hardware, grab rails, and many other consumer goods.

VaporTech copper PVD solutions

Vapor Technologies (VaporTech) manufactures a range of PVD systems designed to deposit copper and other PVD coatings engineered to meet your product’s durability, function, and appearance requirements. Coating cost is often less than $20 for an entire chamber load of parts, and your current manufacturing staff can operate the system. Contact us for more information on how to add value to your products with a new VaporTech® PVD system.

Click here to read about PVD copper coatings from VaporTech!

Authors note: VaporTech manufactures coating equipment and develops custom coatings that meet our customers’ aesthetic and functional requirements. Products coated with VaporTech systems must be marketed and sold in conformance with local regulations.


1 Borkow, Copper, An Ancient Remedy Returning to Fight Microbial, Fungal and Viral Infections. Current Chemical Biology, 2009, DOI: 10.2174/187231309789054887.

2 Osés, J.; Fuentes, G.G.; Palacio, J.F.; Esparza, J.; García, J.A.; Rodríguez, R. Antibacterial Functionalization of PVD Coatings on Ceramics. Coatings, 2018, 8, 197.

3 Doremalen, Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared to SARS-CoV-1, New England Journal of Medicine, 2020; 382:1564-1567, DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc2004973.

4 Borkow, Using Copper to Fight Microorganisms. Current Chemical Biology, 2012, DOI: 10.2174/187231312801254723

5 Michels, From Laboratory Research to a Clinical Trial: Copper Alloy Surfaces Kill Bacteria and Reduce Hospital-Acquired Infections. Health Environments Research & Design, 2015, DOI: 10.1177/1937586715592650

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