—Aiming for a world where people can live with no concerns about bacteria and viruses—
An outbreak of Escherichia coli O157 infections in July 1996, which occurred in Sakai City, Osaka Prefecture, raised public interest in antibacterial materials. At that time, there were some antibacterial materials using silver and copper, however, their antibacterial properties were not verified under actual use conditions.
Under this situation, Kobe Steel started to develop a real antibacterial material that exhibits antibacterial properties in our living environment, and finally found a solution in nickel alloy plating.
By adding antibacterial properties, nickel plating can be applied to various materials.
Nickel itself is not an antibacterial material, but it exhibits a low level of antibacterial properties. By controlling the microstructure and composition of nickel appropriately, Kobe Steel has succeeded in increasing the antibacterial functions to the highest level and enhancing them.
With the progress of the development, the high level of technology attracted the attention of industries. Kobe Steel started to receive requests for quotation and prototypes of plating from various companies, as well as request for mass production.
However, the cost of plating itself became very expensive as it needed to cover capital investment spending and personnel expenses for the plating production line. For this reason, there was no business negotiations leading to successful results.
In these difficult times, we recognized that it would not be possible to acquire customers as long as there was no plating production line that enables us to make prototypes and begin mass production.
After much consideration, we decided to transfer technology to manufacturers with plating production lines.
With these advantages in mind, Kobe Steel has shifted its focus from the business of manufacturing and selling antibacterial materials to the licensing business of transferring technologies to manufacturers that have plating production lines.
With this change in strategy, Kobe Steel started to collaborate with licensed manufacturers, to which our company has transferred the technology, for the development of technology utilizing KENIFINE (e.g. KENIFINE powder and other forms).
As a result of efforts and experience over 20 years, KENIFINE technologies are now available in a variety of applications.
This technology became available in a variety of applications as a result of our company's decision not to exclusively commercialize the technology, but rather to provide the technology to plating companies that have plating know-how and understand customer needs.
Going forward, Kobe Steel will continue to expand its KENIFINE technologies and contribute to realizing a world where people can live with no concerns about bacteria and viruses.