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What is Your Medical Cart Made Of?

Posted by Greg Binversie on August 28, 2015

Many of the conversations I’ve had over the years about working on medical carts at HUI have started with “Oh, so you just work with stainless steel,” as if to say that all medical carts must be made from it. I suppose when you think of a medical cart in an operating room you tend to envision a very clean, bright, sterile, shiny environment and stainless steel definitely fits those descriptors.

Although many of the actual tools and other items in that clean, bright room are made of stainless steel, this is not the case for all medical carts. In fact, a beautifully powder-coated, mild steel cart with some curvy, thermoformed plastic or anodized aluminum accents can also fit very nicely into that operating room vision.

medical-cart-materials

1. Plastic Writing Surface – Thermoform Process
2. Plastic Custom Bumpers – Thermoform Process
3. Patient Bins – Injection Molding Process
4. Cart Body – Powder-coated Sheet Steel

Medical Cart Material Options

Medical carts are made using a wide variety and combination of materials. Although some are indeed made entirely of stainless steel, there are also plastic, aluminum, and mild steel carts – and most carts are a combination of these.

Each material has a given time and place where its use over another material makes the most sense. Where and how the cart is used, your price point, and sales volume are some of the factors that contribute to material selection. For example, if you’re not going to sell enough carts per year to justify the cost of tooling, then the use of injection-molded plastic may not be in the scope of your cart project.

At HUI, many of our carts are made using powder-coated sheet steel with some thermoformed or injection-molded plastic parts to add organic aesthetics, or anodized aluminum parts as trim accents that offset the cart with a robust, deep metallic look.

Mild Steel

Powder-coated mild steel can be a great choice for the base material of your medical cart. Mild steel is generally less expensive than stainless or aluminum, and adding the powder-coated finish gives the product a durable, long-lasting, and beautiful finish. Aluminum can also be powder-coated and while it’s more expensive than mild steel, it’s a better choice when a key design factor is keeping the weight of the cart low.

Epoxy, acrylic and polyester are some of the different types of chemistries used to make powder paint. These chemistries are used to achieve specified performance levels for corrosion or impact resistance, and for color retention based on the specific environment in which your powder-coated cart will be used. Powder paints are also available in a wide range of standard colors and textures or finishes. Although powder coat can be matched to practically any color, using a standard color can help keep costs down.

Plating, e-coating and wet painting are some other common methods used to finish mild steel. Like powder paint, wet paint can also be matched to just about any color you can imagine, but it’s generally considered not to be as durable as powder paint. However, it does allow you to paint other materials that, because of process, simply cannot be done with powder coat.

Zinc-plating or e-coating can be used as a basecoat for either powder coating or wet painting to provide enhanced corrosion resistance, when required.

Plastic Shrouding

Many carts are also entirely shrouded in plastic. Using thermoformed or injection-molded plastic covers or panels for your cart is a great way to achieve the sexy, rounded, curvy, organic shapes often seen on medical carts. The tooling cost for these types of parts can be expensive, so the projected sales volume of your cart should be reviewed to ensure plastic parts are justified.

Underneath that plastic shell, you’re likely to find a metal frame. This frame can be zinc-plated, e-coated or powder-coated in an inexpensive color, as it’s never really seen by end users.

Medical carts are not all made of stainless steel; rather they are made from a wide variety of materials with many different finishes. HUI’s team of cart experts can help you determine which material choices will work best for building your medical cart based on your specific application, price point, and sales volume.

Get started today. Contact Nick Rolf at 920.876.7759 or complete our Contact Form to learn more!

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