What is polyurethane (PU) coated fabric?
PU coated fabric is a type of fabric whereby polyurethane has been applied to the surface of the material to protect it. As a result, common characteristics include shower-proof, water-proof and wind resistance, making it a durable material for demanding applications.
What types of PU coated fabric applications benefit from antimicrobial protection?
Medical furniture and equipment
Keeping healthcare facilities clean and hygienic plays an important role in maintaining patients' health and wellbeing, as well as preventing the spread of harmful microbes and Healthcare Associated Infections (HCAIs). It extends beyond patient-care wards to all public areas, including waiting rooms and toilet facilities. Researchers have also revealed that a patient's perception of cleanliness can even affect how they evaluate their overall medical experience.
For manufacturers of medical furniture and equipment, the challenge lies with product durability due to the wide use of aggressive disinfectant agents, which can accelerate degradation and discoloration, leaving room for microbes to build up in furniture cracks and crevices.
Hospital beds (including mattresses), wheelchairs, treatment tables and waiting chairs made from PU-coated fabrics can all benefit from built-in antimicrobial technology. By inhibiting the growth of harmful microbes, this technology helps to reduce the risk of cross-contamination and keeps surfaces cleaner and fresher for longer in-between routine cleanings, bringing added peace of mind for patients and healthcare professionals.
The use of public transport is largely being driven by a call for consumers to reduce their carbon footprint. Compared with driving alone, public transportation lowers CO2 emissions by 45%. This ultimately decreases pollutants in the atmosphere and improves air quality. However, whilst this might be good for the environment, overcrowded commutes can provide harmful microbes with ample opportunity to thrive. In England, the London Underground is used by approximately 2 million people each day and passenger journeys on light rail and tram systems increased to 171.5 million in the year ending March 2022, demonstrating the popularity of shared transport even in a post-pandemic era.
Looking into the cleanliness and safety of public transport, a study by ZipJet examined swabs taken from seats and handrails of various modes of transport in London, Berlin, and Paris and found bacteria associated with food poisoning, urinary tract infections, and gastrointestinal infections. In addition, nine of the world's most dangerous superbugs, as identified by the World Health Organisation, were found on some of the UK’s most popular transport systems.
Frequent contact with handrails, arm rests and seating are just a few of the areas microbes can spread from passengers to interior surfaces, and vice versa. Besides causing hygiene concerns, bacteria build-up can also lead to product degradation and staining, which can negatively impact consumer willingness to utilise public transportation.
PU coated fabrics treated with antimicrobial additives can enhance the cleanliness and durability of transport interiors. The technology can be applied to a range of PU coated surfaces, particularly the high-traffic seating areas. This added feature actively encourages people to utilise trains, trams and buses, supporting ongoing environmental efforts.
Outdoor and recreation
For outdoor gear and equipment to be effective, it must be able to withstand various weather conditions as well as regular exposure to dirt, damp and sweat. PU coated fabric is ideal for outdoor apparel like hiking and camping gear, plus equipment like dry bags, tents, and ground sheets due to its high performance and resistance.
However, leaving these items in these conditions without proper care can lead to musty odours and mould growth, impairing performance and shortening its lifespan.
PU coated textiles enhanced with built-in antimicrobial technology benefit from around-the-clock protection against microbial growth that can adversely affect the performance of outdoor gear.
Key benefits of PU coated fabric enhanced with Microban antimicrobial technology
24/7/365 protection - Microban technologies remain active throughout the lifespan of the material, meaning they will not wash off, wear away or leach out at any point.
Extends useable lifetime - Microban technologies help to preserve the quality of materials by preventing degrading microbial growth that can lead to premature disposal.
Seamless integration - Microban technologies can be incorporated into PU coated fabric at the stage of manufacture, without compromising the material’s performance properties or aesthetics.
Unique selling point - Microban technologies offer a unique selling point that differentiate product lines and address growing consumer needs.