An autoclave is a vital part of disinfecting medical equipment; it's a large pot or tube that uses extremely hot steam to kill microbes so that anything that is to be reused in hospitals or medical clinics can be properly sterilized.
The problem is that some more delicate devices, such as surgical instruments, may begin to break down or even rust after being cleaned in the autoclave repeatedly.
One way to minimize this issue is to use an industrial plating or finishing process to put a durable finish on some plastic, steel, and other metal objects.
Hard Chrome Plating
The hard chrome plating process uniformly covers an object with a thin but extremely strong layer of a chromium plating solution, which makes it extremely wear resistant. This is ideal for medical equipment that will need to be sterilized often, as much as several times per day.
Some hard chrome plating options are not magnetic, which is also important in a medical setting. Larger machinery used in imaging, for example, can be damaged by magnetic equipment, so items that are needed in these areas of the hospital can have the benefits of a tough coating without being magnetic.
Chroming can also prevent parts from seizing up, or galling. This is beneficial for medical devices that include many moving parts and fasteners.
For applications where the equipment must be heated or gotten wet -- or both -- on a regular basis, an interior barrier coating can be applied before the hard chrome plating process.
Coating medical equipment with titanium can make it extremely durable, but it may not be as resistant to corrosion as hard chrome plating. Titanium is typically used on any item that might be used in the body, such as bone screws because it is both durable and bio-compatible.
It is also easier to use color with titanium coatings, and these colors can be applied during a masking process if the equipment needs to be multi-colored for ease of use.
For items that need an extra boost of durability but don't need to last for years, electro-polishing can add a finish that resists corrosion but isn't as durable as hard chrome plating. Electro-polishing is also beneficial for refinishing surfaces that might have subtle wear, cracks or contamination -- which may not be beneficial for medical-grade equipment.
Talk to your metal refinishing or coating expert for more information about what types of coating processes will work best for your medical industry needs.