Speaking of copper and zinc, those two metals can be combined to create brass. And the copper is kind enough to pass on its antimicrobial properties to the resultant alloy, effectively rendering it a passive disinfectant. That's why some hospitals have begun using copper-based alloys in their lightswitch covers and IV poles, things people touch all the time, in a bid to reduce the spread of viruses.
Brooklyn-based Karl Zahn is the latest designer to create a pen for Acme Studios, and he's chosen to go with an all-brass construction for their new Hatch pen. Healthcare professionals all have to use pens, and they might as well use one that actually kills germs.
As for us civilians, well, let's say you're at the Post Office sending a package, and you brought your own Bic because you don't like touching the germy one chained to the counter. That's always when some grizzled, coughing drifter next to you asks "Hey can I borrow your pen for a sec?" Option #1 is to be a jerk and say no; option #2 is to say "Sure—keep it" and walk away; and now you've got option #3, snag a Hatch. While it's true that brass can take one to two hours to kill bacteria, I'd lend the drifter my pen, then pull my pocket open and instruct him to place it back inside afterwards without touching me.
Seriously though, Zahn has made an interesting design choice that I dig: You can find other brass pens on the market, but as the Wall Street Journal reports, those pens are heavily coated with lacquer to stay shiny. Zahn spec'd out a thinner coat with a purposefully shorter lifespan. The Hatch's finish will therefore wear over time, sacrificing its shininess to let the exposed brass do its work. I like things designed to wear, and function over appearance gets my vote every time.
[Editor's Note: We saw Zahn's work as recently as the Housewares Show at the beginning of the month—he recently designed a utensil set for Teroforma—and he was one of a couple designers who exhibited at both our OPEN exhibition and 12×12 at New York Design Week last year.]