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Selecting the Right Material for Healthcare Facilities

Within a single healthcare facility, there can be thousands of pieces of equipment if not more. Each piece of equipment plays an important role in treating patients and assisting healthcare professionals. With their various functions, equipment is constructed of many different materials. We’ll explore some of these material choices and take a look at their differences, similarities and their role within your hospital.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is one of the most popular materials used for medical equipment, and there’s a good reason for this. Stainless steel is extremely strong and durable, and one of the best metals when it comes to corrosion resistance, making it a great long term solution for many types of medical equipment. Additionally, stainless steel is praised for its self-healing ability, which is caused by the addition of chromium to the alloy. This creates a film on the surface of the metal which is very stable, and will continually reform, making the surface durable and hygienic. Stainless steel is antimicrobial and very easy to clean due to its self-healing properties, making it an ideal material for healthcare facilities that require sterile equipment.

Some common applications of stainless steel in healthcare facilities include:

  • Surgical instruments
  • Sinks and hand washing stations
  • Tables
  • Cabinets
  • Trays
  • Surgical Case Carts

Surgical instruments and equipment are among the most important applications of stainless steel.  Lakeside Manufacturing embodies the value of stainless steel in many of our surgical case carts.  For example, our new space saving case cart is highly durable and easy to clean while delivering heavy duty construction and efficient maneuverability.

Aluminum

Aluminum is another popular material in healthcare facilities. Although it doesn’t quite have the strength of stainless steel, aluminum is still a strong and durable metal that is well known for its corrosion resistance. Aluminum is the light weight alternative when compared to stainless steel and can be easier to maneuver when used for light loads. Another useful property of aluminum is its thermal and electrical conductivity, which is necessary in some types of medical equipment. Aluminum is a great option for equipment that doesn’t require a high level of strength, durability, or heavy duty load capacity.

Some common applications of aluminum in healthcare facilities include:

  • Supply Carts
  • Frames for medical carts
  • Stools
  • Tables

The Classic Anesthesia Cart from Lakeside Manufacturing uses aluminum to create a secure and lightweight solution for healthcare facilities. This medical cart is just one example of a medical cart that utilizes an aluminum frame for a lightweight design.

Plastic

Even more lightweight than aluminum is plastic.  Plastic is a very workable material and can be formed into virtually any shape for various equipment types.  Medical carts is one major application of plastic but the material is an extremely versatile material.  Plastic doesn’t match the durability of stainless steel or aluminum, but it can still be adequately strong for certain applications. There are so many different types of plastics that can all be used in various ways but the majority of plastics in healthcare facilities are made from thermoplastic materials, making them easy to disinfect, re-mold and re-use.  Plastic is a viable and cheapest alternative to metals like stainless steel and aluminum. Plastics are utilized in almost endless ways in healthcare facilities from very large machinery to small accessories and everything in between.

Some common applications of plastics in healthcare facilities include:

  • Utility Carts
  • Specialty Carts
  • Medical Carts
  • Bins
  • MRI Machines
  • Bed Pans
  • Medication Lock Boxes

Lakeside utilizes plastic in the construction of several utility carts and components of several other products.  Our stainless steel medical carts include polycarbonate doors that compliment the rugged stainless steel construction without adding to the weight of the medical cart.  The use of plastic also allows for the integration of a transparent window in the door itself.  The scratch-resistant window allows for healthcare workers to easily see inside without opening the medical cart.  For surgical case carts, plastic is a great material for flexible features and customization.

Copper

Although copper is not widely used in medical equipment today, it has been getting some buzz in the media lately due to its antimicrobial properties. A recent study found that copper alloy surfaces kill 99.9% of bacteria within 2 hours. This is due to the properties of copper which allow it to remove an electron from the bacteria once it comes into contact with the copper surface.  This makes the bacteria unstable and eventually kills it.  These abilities make copper seem like the perfect material for surgical case carts and other equipment.  However, it is very expensive and not as workable as other material alternatives like stainless steel and aluminum.

One argument from health economists estimates that copper surfaces would pay for themselves in about 3-6 months if they were incorporated into ICUs.  Studies have shown that it kills a long list of microbes and has the potential to play an invaluable role in healthcare facilities.  The Sentara Hospital system in North Carolina and Virginia made copper-impregnated surfaces the standard across 13 hospitals in 2017 after a Virginia Beach hospital reported a 78 percent reduction in drug-resistant organisms.  While some hospitals are beginning to incorporate copper surfaces, the full potential of this material is yet to be seen in healthcare settings.

Lakeside's Commitment to Innovation

At Lakeside Manufacturing, we works with steel, plastic, aluminum and pretty much anything our customers require.  We offer custom solutions to meet your needs, no matter the challenge.  Our engineering team has the capabilities to modify existing products or completely custom build medical carts, offering an endless variety of options!  With years of design and customer service experience, we thrive on innovation and finding practical solutions to meet your needs.  If you're not seeing the right solution in our standard catalog contact us!  We are happy to discuss your unique application and hear your ideas.

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