And copper becomes a bactericidal paint

MetalSkin Technologies, TPE from Hérault, France, has developed a paint using the strong antiseptic properties of copper to eradicate bacteria, microbes, germs and viruses, for use in the hospital environment… at least initially!

This is the mission carried out by MetalSkin Technologies (200,000 euros in sales), which is based on knowledge used 2,500 years B.C. “Copper has been used since the Phoenicians, who covered their boats with it to prevent the proliferation of algae,” notes Stéphane Penari, founder and director of the company. The innovative idea for MetalSkin® was born in a metal furniture workshop, which its director had bought a few years earlier. At the time, the company manager used a cold metallization process that allows metal to be deposited on any support: furniture, frames, wall panels. A real know-how that he presents at trade shows. And then, one day, by chance of a question asked, he remembers that his grandfather stretched a copper wire on the ridge of a barn to prevent the development of moss on the roof… Eureka! The real innovation of MetalSkin Technologies then takes shape: using metal no longer for its aesthetic qualities, but for its chemical properties. In 2013, a conclusive test is carried out at the Saint-Roch clinic in Montpellier. From then on, conquering the hospital environment became obvious and the MetalSkin® project took off with three series of patents registered in France and abroad.

A normative process at the origin of this innovation

“In 2013, during the first tests, there was only one international standard (ISO 22 196) whose protocol was very far removed from real field conditions,” recalls Stéphane Penari. And with good reason: the surface had to be wrapped in an opaque film and then placed in an oven for 24 hours under certain conditions (37 degrees, 90% humidity). At the end, only a “bacteriostatic” effect could be claimed. “This did not prove anything, the bacteria were not eradicated. There was eventually a non-proliferation,” argues Stéphane Penari. In order to have the quality of his product recognized, he did not hesitate to study a standard reference system. “We are in a market where the offer has yet to be built. So to convince the major clients of the quality and relevance of this offer, we needed an indisputable document that would replace the standard used. So I put standardization at the heart of my development strategy,” emphasizes Stéphane Penari. Afnor has set up a standardization commission bringing together various experts such as Anses, SF2H (French hygienists), microbiologists and regulatory and materials specialists. Following this work, the NF S90-700 standard was born in 2019. MetalSkin® was rewarded for its investment in the development of this standard who helped her develop her product.

« Or Normes »

The company was a winner in the “Taking a step ahead” category at the “Or Normes” Trophies organized by the Afnor Members Club on October 14 in Paris. From now on, the NF S90-700 standard describes a precise process that identifies a surface claiming to be “bactericidal”. It must, autonomously and constantly, divide by 100 the number of bacteria in one hour under environmental conditions simulating field conditions. “The MetalSkin® innovation goes even further than the standard, since it makes it possible to divide the number of bacteria on the surface by 3,000 in one hour,” says Stéphane Penari. The stakes in terms of public health are enormous. MetalSkin Technologies enables France to be a pioneer and driving force in this field of hygiene and health prevention. Afnor is engaged in a process of creating a technical standardization committee within Iso (international standardization body). “The NF standard will become the basis for future standards. worldwide! ”, proudly remarks Stéphane Penari. MetalSkin® does not intend to stop at the antibacterial properties. Its objective would be to be able to qualify its paints as “biocides”, i.e. which kill all types of micro-organisms. A second process is engaged with Afnor for fungicidal, yeast or virucidal surfaces. By 2021, another standard should allow to specify the efficiency time of the surface depending on the application. There are not the same needs between an intervention vehicle and a wall surface, by example.

A market without borders

This is a huge market for the small business in Hérault. Not only in the hospital environment, but also in public transport, pharmaceutical laboratories, industry, etc. MetalSkin Technologies has qualified French industrialists (painters and polishers) capable of applying the product. “Our job is to license our technology and to lobby so that our products are known, prescribed and even imposed”, explains Stéphane Penari. The MetalSkin® license is already in effect for sanitary equipment, including hunting strokes of SIAMP water. A first contract is signed internationally for the bactericidal protection of keyboards and computer mouse. And a group hotel owner takes a very close interest to the idea of safety and hygiene.

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