Emerging market for anti-microbial coatings

The Covid-19 Pandemic’s impact on both consumers and the worldwide economy has been far-reaching and is reshaping the market for anti-microbial coatings.

In the past, the biggest drivers for smart anti-microbials have been healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs) and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Covid-19 has broadened the demand and also given prominence to the role of “smart coatings”, meaning the ones with the greatest functionality.

Industry analyst firm N-tech Research recently published a report titled, ‘Smart Anti-bacterial and Anti-viral Markets, 2020’. In the study, the firm projects that the market for smart anti-bacterial and anti-viral products will reach € 1.1 billion by the year 2025.

This number includes both smart coatings and smart surfaces. Smart surfaces include products factory-coated with anti-microbials and surfaces with nano-texturing that provides them with an anti-bacterial functionality.

The materials that are explicitly covered in the report are nano-silver, copper, hydrogels, chitosan, silanes, sulphates, graphene and carbon nano-tubes and liquid metals, among many others.

It also examines the role of bio-materials and bio-technology in shaping markets for smart anti-microbials/smart virucides. The end-user segments covered in the report comprise both medical industry markets along with industrial residential markets.

Established smart materials–self-cleaning and self-healing coatings and surfaces–are already important in providing anti-microbial functionality.

For example, Affix Labs and others have introduced an anti-viral coating with self-cleaning technology, based on silane quaternary ammonium.

Polymeric biocides are distinctly smart: they embody anti-microbial haracteristics with self-healing ability. DSM Biomedical offers an anti-microbial coating that self-assembles and is based on hydrophilic technology.

Hydrogels, another smart material,  are sometimes claimed to have considerable promise because they can incorporate and/or release anti-microbial agents.

In the future, N-tech Research expects a flood of material innovations to stop the spread of bacteria, especially viruses. Novel materials including anti-microbial peptide coatings, organosilane nano-coatings and liquid metals are forecast in the N-tech Research report to reach € 196.3 million for anti-bacterial use.

By the year 2025, smart anti-viral coatings are expected to generate € 294 million in revenue, with much of this coming from pre-existing products that have been re-purposed for the age of Covid-19.

Re-branding or re-purposing existing products enables suppliers to quickly move into the rapidly growing market for anti-virals. An example of this strategy is provided by Airdal with a brand of anti-microbial coating that it has

re-marketed as an anti-viral. Airdal’s product is “powered” by Liquid Guard, an established anti-microbial coating.

In the past, consumers have been reluctant to buy smart anti-microbial products because of their high price and short life. Today this has changed as “smart” anti-microbials and are justified on the basis of health, economic and societal requirements.  A major focus of anti-microbial R&D is to make themmore cost-effective and give them longer lifetimes.



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