Redefining ceramics with protection that lives on


Since 2006, Microban® has worked extensively to develop specialist technologies that imbue ceramic surfaces with lasting antimicrobial properties. Its solutions are already used by world leading ceramics manufacturers, including Panariagroup, Dongpeng, Keraben, and Florida Tile

By Kimberley Cherrington and Giorgio Rimini, Microban®

From walls and worktops in kitchens to flooring and sinks in bathrooms, frequently utilised ceramic surfaces are often subject to microbial growth. Moisture, humidity, food residues, human contact, and cleaning lapses all contribute to surface contamination, affecting the overall cleanliness of ceramic products.

Scrubbing with disinfectants is an essential way to reduce the presence of microbes on ceramic surfaces. However, research has shown that cleaning products have a limited residual effect, meaning microbes can begin to double in number every 20 minutes soon after the surface becomes recontaminated. Unlike disinfectant sprays, built-in antimicrobial ceramic technologies will actively control microbial growth on ceramic surfaces and work to extend the effectiveness of regular cleaning routines.

Patented antimicrobials for ceramics

Ceramics production is a complex process with many technical challenges. Ceramics are comprised of clay and other natural earthen elements, meaning the composition of the raw materials can vary considerably. In addition to variations within the natural minerals themselves, there are numerous process variables that can affect the finished product, such as firing temperature, time, and atmospheric conditions. The addition of antimicrobial technology can also be a challenging process as interactions may occur between the antimicrobial additive and auxiliary minerals in the glaze.

Any of these factors in isolation, as well as the chemical interactions among them, can produce surprising effects. Disruption to the delicate balance of the various components can damage, flux, spot, melt, or otherwise render useless the ceramic product and its features. It takes extraordinary knowledge, skill, and flexibility to consider all these factors and produce a ceramic product that is not only functionally and aesthetically pleasing but also protected against microbial growth.

Microban® brings this expertise to ceramics manufacturers. Since 2006, the company has worked extensively to develop specialist technologies and techniques that imbue ceramic surfaces with lasting antimicrobial properties. Its solutions are efficacious (as measured by ASTM E3031-15), transparent to a manufacturer’s process and products, and economically feasible. In contrast to TiO2, Microban® solutions help combat the uncontrolled growth of microbes on ceramic surfaces without requiring sunlight or UV-rays for activation.

The additive is embedded within the ceramic glaze and delivers continuous product protection against microbial growth throughout the lifetime of the ceramic surface (so long as the glaze remains intact). Microban’s experienced ceramics engineers work closely with manufacturers to ensure that the antimicrobial technologies integrate seamlessly into existing mixing and manufacturing processes. This enhances the ceramic surface with built-in antimicrobial properties without impairing aesthetics, functionality or durability. If the current Microban® antimicrobial ceramics formulations can’t meet these requirements, a new formulation will be developed.

Safety, environment and sustainable product development

Microban® is committed to consumer safety, environmental stewardship, and sustainability. Its antimicrobial ceramics technologies are developed and quality controlled under Microban Products Company, an ISO 9001:2015 certified company, and have a long history of safe use. The SilverShield® antimicrobial technology contained within Microban® ceramic additive formulations is notified with the EU Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR) and registered with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The company works to ensure the safety of the antimicrobial technology across the supply chain, from delivery, receipt, and storage, to integration into the manufacturing process and commercialisation in a treated product. Special measures are put into place during the manufacturing of advanced antimicrobial ceramics additives to ensure sustainability considerations, including virtually no raw material waste generation in the blending process, full recovery and recycling of process water used, and the use of natural gas as the cleanest burning fuel in melt operations. In addition, patented Microban® ceramics technologies are formulated from specific components to be non-migratory, ensuring they are retained within the ceramic glaze for the product’s expected lifetime. The result is a more durable ceramic surface that will actively fight the growth of degrading microbes 24/7.

For more than 35 years, Microban® International has been the driving force behind technologies that are redefining clean. Its antimicrobial formulations are manufactured into more than 1,000 products worldwide, from food storage containers to ceramic tiles. Its cutting-edge ceramics technologies, combined with turnkey support services, help companies offer products with a distinct competitive advantage, and are already used and trusted by some of the world’s leading ceramics manufacturers, including Panariagroup, Dongpeng, Keraben Grupo, and Florida Tile.

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Disclaimer: Microban® technologies are sold worldwide. Due to regulatory differences, not all the information provided in this article is valid in all countries or regions. In some cases, legal regulations may restrict or prohibit the selection of available Microban® technologies, the field of application for which they are approved, and the permissible claims for treated articles. If you are uncertain as to the restrictions and requirements regarding antimicrobial treated articles in the countries where you do business, please contact Microban® International, Ltd. for assistance. Microban® technology is not designed to protect users or others from disease-causing microorganisms and is not a substitute for normal cleaning practices. Microban® is a registered trademark of Microban Products Company.