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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Shining Silver...and its many charms

When image promotion is the name of the game, as it is evidently these days, silver is putting a high gloss on its aura, with a little bit of help from its producers.

According to silver producers, the white metal has something for everyone: jewellery for the wife, artefacts for the home, medical bandages for the kids and futuristically designed, germ resistant homes for the environment buff.

Your chemist around the corner may soon be selling silver coated, quick healing medical bandages imported from the US. Aiming to increase consumer use of these medical adhesives, the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) recently approved over-the-counter sales of silver based, antimicrobial bandages, manufactured by Westaim Biomedical Corp., which will be a lower dose version of the company’s successful ‘Acticoat’ burn and wound dressings.

Scott Gillis, president of Westaim Biomedical Corp., says: “Consumers will be able to use a lower dosage form of the same powerful technology employed in burn units to treat the most severe, life-threatening infections humans can face.”

Westaim’s clinical tests have shown that the proprietary silver coating has proved to be effective against more than 150 pathogens, including antibiotic resistant pathogens such as the methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and the vancomycin resistant Enterococcus (VRE).

Westaim is in talks with over-the-counter bandage producers and hopes to introduce the product in the market by 2003. “We believe there is a significant market opportunity for a proven antimicrobial consumer bandage,” adds Mr Gillis.

Well, that’s one use. Now for those who want to remove a permanent tattoo. The commonly used infra-red rays leave scars that may turn infectious. But silver enhanced bandages will promote healing and fend off infection after a tattoo has been removed.

Speaking last month at the annual meeting of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons in Los Angeles, Dr Tolbert Wilkinson stated that a modified infrared coagulator—a device similar to a laser beam—is a cost effective way to permanently remove colour tattoos. Mr Wilkinson noted that this method was more affordable, but needed more intensive post-operative care. The use of an infra-red light source for tattoo removal has been in use since 1991, but it causes severe burns. By using lower settings in combination with the silver impregnated bandages, however, it produces excellent results. The silver ion bandages also help to shorten healing time and reduce the risk of blister breakage, infection and scarring.

Now for the germ resistant home, which uses silver in high contact areas. The plans for this home have earned designer David Martin an award from the American Institute of Architects for design excellence. “This ground breaking project sets the stage for the home of the future,” says Richard Wardrop, chairman and CEO of AK Steel, which will build the 11,000 square foot home, ‘Camino de Robles’ (‘Path of Oaks’) in California, in collaboration with upcoming biotech company AgION Technologies. The home will be an amalgamation of AK Steel’s carbon and stainless steel, coated with AgION’s proprietary silver based anti-bacteria compound.

AK Steel’s Mr Wardrop says: “The AK Steel concept home will be striking in appearance, while offering the benefits of steel construction. Using our steels coated with AgION’s antimicrobial compound, this project also introduces a new way to help combat germs on key surfaces in the home.”

The home’s skeletal framework will be constructed of steel, which should make it fire and earthquake proof. The silver embedded areas will include those that are considered “high touch”, such as handrails, faucets, kitchen areas and door knobs. The heating, ventilation and air-conditioning duct work will also be made of AgION-coated steel, as will some non-steel products, such as refrigerator trays and counter tops. This endeavour is part of a recent trend towards replacing wood with steel in home building because of environmental concerns.

Meanwhile, the Japanese, reeling under the burden of the recession and the shaky yen, are aiming to attract jewellery connoisseurs by producing ‘Art Clay Silver’. Aida Chemicals Industries of Japan plans to market its Art Clay Silver, which is already a rage with Japanese consumers, in the US soon.

Art Clay Silver is a pliable, liquid clay, which you can mould into jewellery of any kind and then fire in a kiln at a high temperature. Professional jewellery makers and skilled amateurs are already using this clay, but the company plans to broaden its appeal to end-consumers.

Company officials claim that intricate designs that would be difficult to make using traditional silver working techniques, are quite simple with Art Clay Silver. And the clay displays minimal shrinkage, so, Art Clay Silver retains the finer details of a design. Even rubber stamp impressions are retained after the firing.
The jewellery can then be given an “antique” finish with a dash of sulphur.

How’s that for a personal touch? So the next time you think of buying jewellery, try an Art Silver Clay kit from your friendly jeweller. Anything for exclusivity.

Written for The Financial Express

1 comment:

Spencer Jonesy said...

Silver is also used as a powerful natural antibiotic by many people. You can learn more about that at www.TheSilverEdge.com