3D printed antibacterial smartphone cases could help stop the spread of superbugs such as MRSA

A new antibacterial material that can be used to make smartphone cases could help stop the spread of deadly bacteria.

British scientists have created 3D printed pieces that kill bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics, such as the dreaded MRSA.

The material could be used in general parts for hospitals, door handles, children’s toys, dentures and everyday consumer products.

It promises to stop serious disease outbreaks in care rooms and homes, which could save the lives of vulnerable patients.

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

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

“Controlling the spread of harmful bacteria, infections and increasing resistance to antibiotics is a global concern,” said Dr. Candice Majewski, a mechanical engineer at the University of Sheffield.

‘Most current 3D printed products have no additional functionality.

What is the MRSA?

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a type of bacteria that is resistant to several widely used antibiotics, which makes it particularly difficult to treat.

Early detection of the infection may prevent it from spreading and infecting others.

Approximately 30 percent of people carry Staphylococcus aureus bacteria even in the nose, armpits, groin or buttocks without realizing it.

This can invade the body’s bloodstream and release poisonous toxins that kill up to a fifth of infected patients.

MRSA is most commonly associated with hospitals.

In addition to being highly drug resistant, current screening methods are quite inaccurate, allowing the infection to spread as the patient moves both inside and outside the hospitals.

Even when the infection is treated successfully, it doubles the average length of a patient’s hospital stay, as well as increasing the costs of medical care.

“The introduction of antibacterial protection to products and devices at the manufacturing point could be an essential tool in this fight.”

The World Health Organization says that antibiotic resistance poses a ‘big global threat’ to public health.

A “post antibiotic era” has been described, where people die from simple infections that have been treatable for decades.

To combat this threat, researchers at Sheffield University created a technique that combines 3D printing with a silver-based antibacterial compound.

“We have adopted a commercially available antimicrobial additive (Biocote B65003) and combined it with a widely used laser sintering powder (polyamide 12, EOS PA2200) to create an antimicrobial material suitable for a variety of potential uses,” say the researchers. in your article. , published in Scientific reports.

The results showed that the chemical can be successfully incorporated into existing 3D printing materials without any negative impact on production or resistance.

Under the right conditions, the parts are effective against potentially harmful errors without being toxic to human cells.

Tests in human cells grown in the laboratory found that there were no toxic effects.

More experiments are being planned in the manufacture of a range of products with the aim of working with industry leaders to bring them to the market.

Photograph of a selection of parts made of PA2200 (left) along with the 1% B65003 composite material (right)

Photograph of a selection of parts made of PA2200 (left) along with the 1% B65003 composite material (right)

Photograph of a selection of parts made of PA2200 (left) along with the 1% B65003 composite material (right)

Medical devices are often already coated with an antibacterial compound and are subject to strict and rigorous cleaning or sterilization procedures.


Antibiotics have been unnecessarily distributed by GPs and hospital staff for decades, feeding bacteria that were once harmless to become superbugs.

The World Health Organization (WHO) previously warned that if nothing is done, the world will move towards a ‘post-antibiotic’ era.

He said that common infections, such as chlamydia, will become killers without immediate solutions to the growing crisis.

Bacteria can become resistant to medications when people take incorrect doses of antibiotics or if they are given unnecessarily.

Former medical director Dame Sally Davies said in 2016 that the threat of antibiotic resistance is as serious as terrorism.

The figures estimate that superbugs will kill 10 million people each year by 2050, and that patients will succumb to bugs that were once harmless.

While this provides some protection against microbes, human error in cleaning or damage to the cover can still cause the spread of bacteria.

Rigorous tests and imaging techniques were carried out to establish the effect of the additive, such as its mechanical properties and whether it survived the manufacturing process.

The parts with and without the antibacterial compound were immersed in various solutions to test how many errors were left after 24 hours.

Those containing the compound were effective against examples of the two main groups of bacteria, Gram positive (Staphylococcus aureus) and Gram negative (Pseudomonas aeruginosa), which can cause different infections.

The number of bacteria adhered to the surfaces of the pieces in the form of biofilms difficult to eliminate was also reduced.

The researchers observed an ‘anti-biofilm’ effect where bacteria died before they could adhere to the parts.

3D printed parts worked less well in liquids that contained many nutrients; it was discovered that these interfered with silver before he could do his job.

This will help people decide in which environments to use this technology, the team says, which means that users are advised to keep their smartphone antibacterial case away from liquids if the material is marketed.

However, work is being done to investigate the full extent of the material’s capacity before this happens.

“Our interactions with microbes are complex and contradictory,” said Dr. Bob Turner, of the Sheffield computer department.

‘They are essential for our survival and can knock us out.

“A technology like this will be key to an informed and sustainable management of this crucial relationship with nature.”


First invented in the 1980s by Chuck Hull, an engineer and physicist, 3D printing technology, also called additive manufacturing, is the process of making an object by depositing material, one layer at a time.

Similar to how an inkjet printer adds individual dots of ink to form an image, a 3D printer adds material where it is needed, based on a digital file.

Many conventional manufacturing processes involved cutting off excess materials to form a part, and this can lead to a waste of up to 30 pounds (13.6 kilograms) per pound of useful material, according to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory of the Tennessee Department of Energy .

On the contrary, with some 3D printing processes, about 98 percent of the raw material is used in the finished part, and the method can be used to make small components using plastics and metal powders, and some also experiment with chocolate and other foods as biomaterials similar to human cells.

3D printers have been used to make everything from prosthetic limbs to robots, and the process follows these basic steps:

· Creation of a 3D plane using computer-aided design software (CAD)

· Printer preparation, including recharging of raw materials such as plastics, metal powders and bonding solutions.

· Starting the printing process through the machine, which builds the object.

· 3D printing processes may vary, but the extrusion of material is the most common and works like a glue gun: the print material is heated until it is liquefied and extruded through the printing nozzle

· Using the information from the digital archive, the design is divided into two-dimensional cross sections so that the printers know where to place the material

· The nozzle deposits the polymer in thin layers, often 0.1 millimeters (0.004 inches) thick.

· The polymer quickly solidifies, joining the bottom layer before the construction platform comes down and the printhead adds another layer (depending on the object, the whole process can take minutes to days).

· Once the printing is finished, each object requires further processing, ranging from detaching the object from the construction platform to removing the support and removing excess dust.