A novel process to use vacuum metallizing techniques to deposit a thin layer of polymer on flexible substrates such as polyester (PET) and fabric has been developed by Idvac Ltd., Manchester/UK.
The company specializes in the development of new vacuum processes and products for security and decorative holograms, packaging and solar window film sectors. PET, cotton fabric or paper filters coated with this polymer could be used to make antimicrobial face masks, hospital bed sheets, air filters and protective clothing for health applications. In such applications, the innovative polymer, which exhibits very good antimicrobial property, does not only block the penetration of the virus or bacteria but it can eliminate it in a very short time. The novel polymer layer can be applied as a single or as polymer/metal multi-layer coating onto a moving web of film, fabric, etc. using roll-to-roll vacuum metallizing equipment. Vacuum metallizing allows the deposition of materials in a clean, dry environment and can be done at high speed to reduce the cost of the end product. This process does not use any solvent or wet chemicals. Idvac has also found that the vacuum deposited polymer layer can adhere well onto some metal or metal oxide surfaces. The polymer/metal or polymer/metal oxide multi-layer combination has the advantage of protecting the metal from environmental effects and at the same time providing extra antimicrobial properties.