Direct incorporation of antimicrobial additive into the polymer matrix is a cost effective approach for the development of polymer/metal antimicrobial composites. Application of these antimicrobial composite systems for manufacturing medical devices addresses the issue of device related infections. In the present study, commercially available inorganic copper based additive, Plasticopper, was incorporated into a Polyamide 11(PA 11) matrix during the polymer processing stage. These polymer composites were evaluated for their morphological, mechanical, antimicrobial and ion release properties. Isothermal crystallisation studies showed that the copper additive acted as a nucleating agent and promoted faster crystallisation. Short term mechanical studies confirmed that the incorporation of copper has reinforcing effect on the composites with 5 and 10% copper loadings and did not adversely affect the short-term mechanical performance of the polymer composites. These composite systems were shown to be active against Escherichia coli ATCC 8739 with >99.99% reduction in bacterial population. Corresponding ion release profiles for these composites indicated long term antimicrobial activity.
Keywords: Antimicrobial efficacy; Antimicrobial polymers; Device related infections; Inorganic antimicrobial additives; Ion release; Polymer morphology.
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