Sheffield scientists create 3D parts that kill bacteria

Individual bacteria on a Nylon-12 surface. The bacteria is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which can cause disease in plants, animals and humans.

Researchers from the University of Sheffield have manufactured 3D printed parts that show resistance to common bacteria. This could stop the spread of infections such as MRSA in hospitals and care homes, saving the lives of vulnerable patients.

The study was published recently in Scientific Reports by an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and the School of Clinical Dentistry. The research combined 3D printing with a silver-based antibacterial compound in order to produce the parts.

Results from the research have shown that the anti-bacterial compound can be successfully incorporated into existing 3D printing materials without any negative influence on processability or part strength, and that under the right conditions, the resultant parts demonstrate anti-bacterial properties without being toxic to human cells.

The findings offer the potential for applications in a wide range of areas, including medical devices, general parts for hospitals which are subject to high levels of human contact, door handles or children’s toys, oral health products (dentures) and consumer products.

The research was funded by the Engineering Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).