How we got here
I was recently assisting an Italian company that produces special knitted fabric made with metal wire. When the COVID-19 pandemic started to hit hard, I had some conversation with them after a reputable academic paper caught my attention.
The paper reports a study on stability and viability of SARS-CoV-2 on different surfaces. The bit that started the conversation specifically reports that surfaces made of copper are able to neutralise SARS-CoV-2 virus in a short time.
With their technology it is possible to produce tight knitted fabrics made of 100% copper or mixed copper wire/polypropylene or other textile fibres.
The fabrics are smooth and flexible and can adapt to complex surfaces like a steering wheel. The metal fabric they produce is used in fact in wearable sensors and other special applications requiring exceptionally smooth and flexible material, which in general is extremely difficult to achieve with normal weaving techniques.
A cool idea
Putting ideas together, we thought of possible applications to help contain the spread of COVID-19 virus limiting its permanence on surfaces of common use. There are already plenty of additives and treatments that can make surfaces inhospitable for bacteria and viruses, but they need to be embedded in the material that the good is made of.
So we might have a perfect solution to apply a resistant and easy to install protection for objects of common use, such as handles, door knobs, steering wheels, or even mobile phone covers.
The company can produce a fabric containing a high percentage of copper that can be cut and finished as a usual textile and thus requiring nothing more than tailor technology.
It would then be extremely simple to produce handy covers that reduce the possibility of contagion through commonly used surfaces in private and public spaces such as handrails, push bars on doors or supermarket trolleys, in all those situations when hands sanitation might not be readily available.
Sure enough, we cannot base a product on a single paper that is not specific about this material and application. Moreover, the company produces the fabric but does not have the required competence to apply it in the case we imagined.
So we came to the conclusion to launch the idea here and see how working together with a larger community we could get relevant tests done and then support designers and producers with material and technology.
The company is preparing samples to be available as soon as possible to run tests and build prototypes. I invite labs and interested parties to step forth and offer my assistance to coordinate the efforts.