A Case for Chromium Coatings
Every manufacturing process and material has its detractors. Chromium coatings for stainless-steel medical instruments are no exception. Despite the many benefits this article lists below, there are still those who criticize chromium.
What do they say? For one thing, some uninformed people view chromium coatings as “old news.” It is not a flashy new substance that promises “greater strength” or “enhanced durability.” This perspective ignores the fact that chromium continues to provide exceptional strength and durability, but the attraction we all have to “new and improved” products is strong.
Critics also point out that chromium, like many substances used in manufacturing, is very bad for the environment. However, it is more accurate to say that it “can be” very bad for the environment if handled carelessly or incorrectly. And the same is true for the materials used to produce virtually any product.
Manufacturers who strive to deliver high-quality, aesthetically pleasing medical instruments continue to see chromium-based materials as the best coating solution. They also know that when a coating provider follows well-defined practices for handling chromium, they eliminate any environmental risk from using the material.
Chromium: The Right (and Only) Coating for the Job
Chromium’s physical properties produce several benefits for medical instruments—benefits that no other material can provide. They include that chromium coatings:
- increase hardness, corrosion resistance, and durability of surfaces,
- simplify the cleaning and polishing of medical instruments,
- reduce surface friction,
- resist scratching,
- can be used in a wide temperature range, from –70 °F to 1000 °F (–57 °C to 427 °C),
- can withstand high pressure,
- slow radiation absorption, and
- extend the life of underlying materials by anywhere from 2 to 10 times.
Healthcare organizations that use chromium-coated metal assets also enjoy many business benefits. Longer useful life means that they do not have to replace instruments and devices as frequently, which moves more money to their bottom line. They also retain more revenue because the coatings decrease the amount of maintenance and repair work required.
Perhaps most importantly, coated instruments work more effectively, enabling organizations to provide the best possible care and produce optimal patient outcomes. The casual observer may not understand the difference in performance between coated and uncoated scalpels, for example, but a surgeon does.
What the Market Says About Chromium Coatings
People researching chromium coatings can find ample information online pointing to their superiority. For example, many providers offer these types of coatings. While not all of them perform the coating work the same way or achieve the same quality results, the fact that a large number of coatings companies use chromium speaks volumes about its value to them, their customers, and their patients.
In addition, experts predict steady growth for the chromium coatings market in the years ahead. They estimate it will reach $21 billion by the end of 2028. That figure is not one you would expect if a product were ineffective or unsafe.
Premium Protection and Proven Performance
In the final analysis for the case of chromium coatings, consumers determine the value of a product by its results. Are chromium coatings an exciting new offering? No, they are not. Coatings companies like ME-92 Operations continue to develop new formulations and application processes. But those advances will never generate the type of buzz surrounding some entirely new coating.
However, chromium coatings enable better product performance, happier healthcare professionals and patients, and an improved bottom line for organizations. And when a company that has an unrivaled record of environmental excellence applies those coatings, stakeholders can rest assured that every phase of the process is safe.
For example, ME-92 Operations has had eleven consecutive years of perfect compliance for wastewater discharge. Fewer than 5% of industrial accounts overseen by the Narragansett Bay Commission achieve even two consecutive years of full compliance.
Healthcare companies can try new, unproven coating solutions—and some choose to take that risk. But while it is not the most exciting strategy, most organizations understand that opting to “go with what you know” and use time-tested chromium coatings consistently delivers outstanding results.