Milliken Floor Covering (ANZ) has recently launched the world’s first self-sanitising carpet tile with efficacy against the SARS-CoV-2 virus and various bacteria creating a self sanitising carpet that provides integrated infection control for our living, working and social environments.

Born from three years of rigorous scientific development and testing, this antiviral and antibacterial treatment, known as MGUARD+, is an Australian innovation developed by Milliken in partnership with HealthGuard, and applied on PrintWorks™ carpet tiles, at Milliken’s manufacturing facility in Sydney.

Suitable for senior living and healthcare facilities, hotels, hospitality and public venues, as well as workplace and education interiors, MGUARD+ is effortlessly elevating the hygiene of these every day, high-use spaces in a way that is both good for people, the environment and for business.

Hamilton Airport, New Zealand, Archimedia Waikato, Simon Wilson Photography

The very first seeds of this ambitious, world-first project were conceived at the height of the pandemic when sanitisation and hygiene were a top priority for public spaces. As the Australian population experiences yet another new wave of COVID, many would argue these considerations remain critical.

Milliken recognised this heightened demand, while also addressing the fact that flooring, once installed and in use, is not often maintained to the standard of the manufacturer’s recommended cleaning and maintenance guidelines. In short, there was room for exciting innovation and its impact had the potential to change the face of flooring and how hygiene is delivered through intelligently-designed spaces.

Teaming up with long-time partners and collaborators, HealthGuard, an Australian entity that specialises in research, development and manufacturing of biotech finishes, Milliken embarked on the marathon MGUARD+ adventure: to create a carpet that would provide a completely new level of infection control.

Ridley College, Melbourne, ARM Architecture, Chalk Studio Photography

MGUARD+ becomes the silent sentinel

The scientists at Milliken and HealthGuard weren’t satisfied with merely creating a hyper-hygienic carpet solution, they were looking to create a treatment that would first and foremost have a positive impact on people’s lifestyles.

This meant that MGUARD+ must stand up against stringent international standards and withstand the most rigorous tests and performance specifications globally. It must also act as a “silent sentinel” 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This means that the user is not required to do anything, MGUARD+ effortlessly works without human intervention.

The three years of development for this ambitious and visionary product was incredibly challenging and as Milliken Australia’s head of research and development, Dr Zulfiqar Khan, readily admits: “Most people would have given up after 12 months. But we didn’t, we knew that the impact of this had wide ranging benefits for the users and getting it right would be a game changer.

Dr Zulfiqar Khan.

MGUARD+ fights Covid-19, and many nasty bacteria

The MGUARD+ treatment is proven to kill 99 per cent of SARS-CoV-2 viruses within two hours of contact with Milliken PrintWorks™ carpet tiles. In addition to this – and yes we are getting a little technical here – it is proven to kill 99 per cent of S.aureus, E.coli, K.pneumoniae bacteria, and prevents the growth of A.brasiliensis fungus (as per AATCC 174 (2016) – Part 2 and 3 testing protocols). So, it really does stand up against the most pervasive of viruses and bacteria.

As Dr Khan states, “We are providing another level of infection control that will have a positive impact on people’s lives.” Additional to that, “because of the treatment on the carpet, it actually kills viruses itself without any intervention of any sort.” This is astounding, and impressive, considering that flooring is traditionally one of those areas most neglected in terms of cleaning and maintenance.

Scientifically developed to be good for the planet, and good for the body

The environment was of primary concern for both Milliken and HealthGuard™ in the development of MGUARD+. Dr Chris Harvey, founder of HealthGuard, worked closely with Milliken’s scientist Dr Khan, and speaks to the fact that many antimicrobial agents are based on heavy metals. “I do not formulate these with any heavy metals at all,” Dr Harvey says. “I am incredibly conscious of the fact that heavy metals wash out; they are persistent in the environment and we wanted something that was readily biodegradable in our finish and treatment,” he says.

Dr Chris Harvey.

VOCs (volatile organic compounds) were also a critical consideration when it came to ensuring the product was safe for people to use. Dr Harvey and Dr Khan experimented extensively to ensure that the antiviral, antibacterial formula would not prove volatile under certain conditions. “That’s why it took three years to tick all the boxes,” comments Dr Harvey. As a result, there are minimal VOCs associated with the MGUARD+ treatment on Milliken PrintWorks™ carpet tiles passing any global criteria including Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) requirements for VOCs. “What goes onto the carpet makes a very strong bond with the fibres and remains on it,” confirms Dr Khan.

Durability was a critical requirement for MGUARD+ and had the two scientists on the edge of their seats as they worked towards a solution that would make the MGUARD+ treatment impervious to deep cleaning and regular maintenance. “How could we make it remain on the fibres during carpet shampooing and hot water extractions?” poses Dr Harvey.

The breakthrough moment did come and, while the durability of protection may vary with use, the MGUARD+ treatment has been tested to remain 98.22 per cent effective against Omicron BA.2 (the COVID virus strain), after 10 hot water extraction clean cycles. Impressive, to say the least.

Gemlife Head Office, Queensland, GemLife  | HHH Architects

The demand for MGUARD+ grows in leaps and bounds

The ripples of interest following MGUARD+ official launch into the Australian and New Zealand markets are quickly turning into waves. Already interior designers and architects are showing interest in MGUARD+, recognising the far-reaching potential for this carpet treatment in projects that span healthcare, senior living, stadiums, schools, new hybrid working environments, best-in-class hotels and more.

Developed to bring designers and end-users alike a carpet that is of the most innovative and technologically advanced quality, the MGUARD+ treatment works in harmony with all the signature features that make a Milliken carpet stand out.

MGUARD+ carpets are not only hygienically treated, they are produced using cutting-edge dye injection technology, to help designers achieve any pattern, colour or design they wish to achieve. The carpet also features Milliken’s proprietary WellBAC® cushioned carpet backing which heightens comfort underfoot and improves acoustic quality within a space.

Dr Khan also points out that the WellBAC® cushion backing Milliken uses is PVC-free and non-reactive – an innovation in itself and borne of technology developed by Milliken. “We knew once we got this product right that it would be hugely beneficial for our customers and clients. It was also very important that when we launched MGUARD+, we had all the evidence through rigorous testing, to back up our claims,” says Dr Khan.

Tested in specialist laboratories across numerous continents around the world, MGUARD+ is without a doubt a world-leading technology, and completely unique. It’s potential? To rapidly evolve our view on the future role of flooring as we continue to design spaces that enhance well-being and give back to the environment.

“For those businesses using Milliken PrintWorks™ carpet tiles with MGUARD+, this added layer of MGUARD+ ‘protection’ – both within the product itself and within the larger interior environment – has proven to have positive impact on hygiene and hygiene maintenance. This, combined with Milliken carpets’ other innovation-driven attributes, amounts to perhaps the most important thing that Milliken can offer: that is, a sense of confidence in our ability to deliver, and ultimately peace of mind,” says Dr Khan.

The MGUARD+ treatment is applied to all Milliken PrintWorks™ carpet tile at Milliken’s Sydney manufacturing facility. Only available in Australia and New Zealand.

Milliken
millikenfloors.com.au

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