Electroplated Aluminum for Medical Devices & Dental devices

Electroplated aluminum for medical and dental devices offers superior corrosion resistance and allows for functional and cosmetic anodization options not previously available.

CORROSION IN MEDICAL AND DENTAL DEVICES

Medical devices have challenging corrosion resistance requirements. In addition to the typical requirements for humidity and general corrosion, medical devices may need to withstand sterilization, exposure to human fluids and tissues, and when implanted, the highly corrosive environment of the human body itself.

Electroplated aluminum is a 99.99% pure coating. The coating offers unsurpassed protection for medical device components. The coating can be anodized, providing the desirable benefits of an alumina surface onto any medical device substrate and material.

Corrosion of any type is not acceptable in the clean environments within hospitals, clinics, laboratories and medical offices. The finishing industry has responded with specialty versions of commonly used finishing processes. Coatings for medical devices are more frequently inspected and post-treated to meet the stringent requirements. Anodization of aluminum and titanium components is used because of the highly inert and wear resistant oxide (alumina and titania) formed during the anodization process. Anodization of aluminum alloys (alumina) can also be colored, allowing for attractive and easy-to-identify medical devices.

For applications in which surface coatings are not permitted, the medical and dental industries have migrated to corrosion resistant materials. Aluminum, titanium, cobalt, chrome, stainless steel alloys and ceramics are common choices for medical devices. However, metal alloys are not completely resistant to corrosion. Ceramics are more resistant but may lack the mechanical properties required for the application. Some materials are inherently corrosion prone and cannot be replaced, such as permanent magnet materials used in motors of medical devices. These rare earth neodymium iron boron (NdFeB) and samarium cobalt (SmCo) magnets are highly susceptible to corrosion, which can affect the medical device performance. Regardless of material choice, corrosion must be controlled to prevent corrosion products (specifically metal ions) from affecting the device or being absorbed by the human body.

PURE ALUMINUM PROTECTS MEDICAL AND DENTAL DEVICE SUBSTRATES

Pure electroplated aluminum for medical and dental devices offers the highest anti-corrosion performance of any protective plating for sensitive materials and substrates. Semiconductor and aerospace OEM testing has confirmed the superior performance of electroplated aluminum through a variety of accelerated and field corrosion tests. Electroplated aluminum outperforms zinc, zinc-nickel, tin-zinc and other organic coatings commonly used to combat corrosion in ASTM B-117 (salt fog), ASTM G-85 (sulfur dioxide), ASTM G-87 (Kesternich), and environmental exposure corrosion tests. For more information, please see our Corrosion Protection page (http://www.alumiplate.com/solutions/corrosion-protection/).

Medical device OEM testing of electroplated aluminum in hot saline solution has shown much higher resistance than can be provided by other coatings.  The increased expected duration of the electroplated aluminum components enables a longer overall lifetime for the entire device.

Electronic device materials that require corrosion protection from humidity, the environment, handling, and exposure to human blood and fluids can be protected by 99.99% pure aluminum.  The coating is used on a variety of component and substrates to combat all types of corrosion, including galvanic corrosion, crevice corrosion, intergranular corrosion, pitting corrosion, fretting corrosion, and stress corrosion cracking.

The high corrosion resistance, adhesion and ductility of the plating make it an ideal solution for nickel titanium shape memory alloys (Nitinol), rare earth materials (NdFeB and SmCo), stainless steels (316L), titanium aluminum alloys (TiAl46V) and even low and high carbon cobalt-chrome-molybdenum alloys (Co-Cr-Mo).

HIGH PURITY ANODIZATON (ALUMINA) FOR ANY MATERIAL

Ceramic coatings offer excellent protective features for medical and dental components. Ceramics are highly inert, have high hardness, low coefficient of friction, and can be machined to either a high polish or a rough finish.  Aluminum oxide (alumina) and titanium oxide (titania) are grown on the surface of aluminum and titanium alloys through the process of anodization.  Zirconium oxide (zirconia) and other ceramic coatings are applied directly on desired surfaces.

Alumina (Al2O3) is of particular interest for medical and dental components.  The alumina molecule is highly stable and withstands adverse acidic and alkaline conditions even at high temperatures (Source: Maccauro, G., Ionmetti, P., Raffaelli, L., Manicone, P., “Alumina and Zirconia Ceramics for Orthopaedic and Dental Devices”, Catholic University of the Sacred Hearth, Rome, Italy).

Anodization is affected by the aluminum alloy composition.  Purer alloys anodize more uniformly due to the lower alloy and impurity content.  Electroplated aluminum is 99.99% pure, with only trace levels of impurities and contaminants.  Electroplated aluminum has the potential to yield a very pure alumina, with minimal contamination, maximum corrosion resistance, and optimum hardness and wear characteristics.

Semiconductor OEM testing has confirmed that alumina from electroplated aluminum is superior to alumina from aluminum alloys. Electroplated aluminum yields higher purity alumina with a dense, void-free structure, and most importantly, much higher corrosion protection.  An in-depth characterization report for alumina from anodized electroplated aluminum is available here (High Purity Electroplated Aluminum Coatings for Critical Components in Dry Etch and Process Chamber Environments (PDF)).  For additional information, please see our Semiconductor Fabrication Equipment page (http://www.alumiplate.com/applications/semiconductor-fabrication-equipment/).

Ceramics are inherently brittle due to their hardness and structure.  They lack the ductility, toughness and strength of metal alloys.  Electroplated aluminum allows medical device designers to combine corrosion and wear resistance of ceramics with the strength and ease-of-fabrication of metal alloys.

Electroplated aluminum for medical and dental devices can be coated for increased corrosion protection.  For applications requiring a more inert surface, the aluminum plating can be anodized yielding high purity and high performance alumina.  Material choices available to designers are exponentially increased with electroplated aluminum.  Whereas only aluminum and titanium alloys are anodizable, electroplated aluminum enables the anodization of any medical and dental component material.  The well-known functionality of alumina is now available on materials from stainless steels to rare earths.  Designers can select the best material for the application and combine it with the corrosion protection and tribological properties of high purity aluminum and alumina.

For cosmetic applications, anodized electroplated alumina can be colored.  Deep colors and novel finishes not previously available are facilitated by pure alumina from electroplated aluminum.  For additional details, please see our Anodize Any Material page (http://www.alumiplate.com/coating/anodize/).

Contact us for more information or to discuss your application in more detail.