At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the main aim of Robert Erichsen, CEO of Bremen company Statex, was to provide his employees with the best possible protection against the virus. His efforts eventually resulted in a product that is now being sold around the world: a self-adhesive copper-coated fleece on which viruses and bacteria are unable to survive for long. Erichsen decided to install his new copper tape on door handles, toilet flushes and on the switches of coffee makers – anywhere that comes into regular contact with the skin – throughout his company, which produces metallised textiles. To establish its effectiveness, he commissioned several laboratory tests. “They showed that the copper in our tape rendered 99.98 per cent of coronavirus present inactive within a few minutes so it was no longer infectious,” he reports.
Copper against a virus: acting as a disinfectant
Even in ancient times, people knew that copper had disinfectant properties. More recently, hospitals have begun to take advantage of the metal’s positive impact on hygiene by fitting copper door handles to reduce the number of germs. “The more copper ions are released, the quicker viruses and bacteria become inactive,” Erichsen explains. “Since we already had a number of copper-coated textiles in our product range anyway, we just needed to look for a variant that would work particularly well in this context.” The ‘winner’ of this internal search was a copper-coated polyamide fleece that – in a direct comparison – releases seven times more ions than metallic copper.
The Statex boss and his team attached adhesive film to this textile, cut it to the required size and fitted the resulting pieces to handles and buttons around the company. Visitors soon began to notice the new copper tape. Erichsen recognised that there was demand outside the company and began to produce the tape for sale. “I’m not trying to profit from the crisis,” he emphasises. “But if we can do our bit to potentially limit the spread of viruses and bacteria then we regard it as our duty.”
Product is additional hygiene measure
So far it hasn’t been scientifically established exactly how coronavirus is spread, and what role the touching of surfaces might play in this. But studies in the US suggest that the virus can survive for several days on certain materials. “We see our copper tape as an additional element that supports the hygiene measures being implemented by businesses and public organisations,” says the 31-year-old CEO. “And that in turn increases the safety of employees and customers, and their families.” That aspect is very important to Erichsen, who took charge of the company at the start of 2020, the third generation of his family to do so.