Researchers at the University of Sheffield have manufactured 3D printed parts that show resistance to common bacteria, potentially saving lives by stopping the spread of infections like MRSA in hospitals.

The findings were published in a study in Scientific Reports. The research involved a combination of 3D printed parts with a silver-based antibacterial compound. It showed that the compound can be successfully incorporated into existing materials without compromising processability or part strength or being toxic to human cells.

The study’s findings have numerous significant potential applications, including in medical devices, hospital parts, toys, oral health products and many other consumer products. Further work is ongoing to explore the full extent of its capabilities with further projects planned.

Dr Candice Majewski, the project’s lead academic, said: “Managing the spread of harmful bacteria, infection and the increasing resistance to antibiotics is a global concern. Introducing antibacterial protection to products and devices at the point of manufacture could be an essential tool in this fight.

“Most current 3D printed products don’t have additional functionality. Adding antibacterial properties at the manufacturing stage will provide a step-change in our utilisation of the processes’ capabilities.”

Medical devices are usually already coated with antibacterial compound and undergo cleaning and sterilisation but these processes have limitations such as human error and damage.

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