MEDICAL DEVICE GOLD PLATING
ProPlate’s dedicated new product development team supports new medical device projects from concept through commericialization through our proven process roadmap.
ProPlate® has a library of solutions for a wide range of parts and industries. We are always pleased to take on new challenging projects and expand our Medical Device Gold Plating capabilities.
…often have functional coatings for enhanced performance and other benefits such as bio-compatibility. Since medical device components typically have complex geometries combined with porous base materials, a coating process may need to be applied to result in surface uniformity and high throwing power.
ProPlate® has plating processes and quality systems that are proactively designed to meet the stringent requirements of the FDA and ISO-13485 standards. Repeatability, reliability, traceability, and performance all have to be maintained routinely to the highest standards of our OEM customers. We strive to be on the front end of a design before the production phase with all of our medical device manufacturing industry customers.
Benefits of Medical Device Gold Plating
Gold possesses a myriad of beneficial attributes, which make it one of the optimum metal finishes for medical device components. Gold is considered soft compared to other metals, so it is very malleable, making it great for shape-memory devices such as Nitinol (Ni-Ti) and other high precision medical instruments.
Gold is highly corrosion-resistant, meaning it does not oxidize in the open air, and elements such as moisture or acid will not corrode away at Gold over time. This is an important characteristic for a component, especially for sterilization processes of medical devices and elements of exposure when a device is implanted inside the human body.
Gold is biocompatible, which means it will not cause any negative or toxic reactions when it comes in contact with tissues, skin, organs, and other parts of the body, inside or out. Because Gold is a highly dense metal, it is highly radiopaque, meaning it is opaque to x-rays or similar radiation. Gold plating is also an advantageous method of rendering a medical component brightly visible inside the body under a fluoroscopy machine. For example, a coronary stent needs radiopacity to be placed accurately by a catheter in an artery. Gold is an excellent electrical conductor even over long periods, making Gold plating suitable for connector pins, electrical switch contacts, and other applications where electrical contacts occur intermittently.
Gold electroplating can join dissimilar metals together by enabling them to be soldered together in situations once impossible, such as welding or soldering stainless steel with Nickel-Titanium/Nitinol (Ni-Ti).
ProPlate® partners with industry-leading medical technology companies around the world who share our core values; Innovative, Collaborative, Critical Thinking, Driven, Quality Minded, and Reputable.
Common Gold Plating Applications in Medical Devices & Instruments
Various stents can call for Gold plating to facilitate radiopacity, especially in specific micro-features that traditional marker bands were once impossible or very difficult to install. Examples of different stents manufacturing that can require radiolucency are laser slotted hypotubes, super-elastic or shape-memory Nitinol, athermal laser machining, wire braiding or knitting, laser sheet cutting, and laser tube cutting of medical stents. ProPlate® has pioneered an electroplating innovation, Vizi-Band®, for coating RO markers on a diverse assortment of medical stents.
Manufacturing pacemakers to help regulate a patient’s heart requires the utilization of Gold plating for specific components for many of the benefits listed in the previous section, such as electrical conductivity and corrosion resistance.
Gold plating’s attractive appearance, corrosion resistance, and biocompatibility make it an excellent finish for dental and orthodontic components. ProPlate® regularly electroplates dental brackets and archwires with Gold for customers and has custom processes to maintain quality standards of aesthetics and performance for its dental and orthodontics manufacturing customers. Gold plating medical devices and dental implants can be helpful where minimizing the risk of infection or toxic reaction to the patient are critical.
Gold plating is often used in the production of high-tech lasers, including medical lasers that can be used for imaging and even closing wounds through cauterization. Battery casing is another application for Gold electroplating. For example, ProPlate® developed a selective plating process for an insulin pump battery casing for a large medical device OEM. The need for Gold plating the battery casing was for corrosion resistance. Palladium and Nickel under layers were plated before the Gold final layer. The solution developed by ProPlate® reduced the overall cost of plating by 40%, compared to the previous plating supplier, and provided a production environment to meet quantity demands.
The joining of dissimilar materials is also made possible through Gold plating. Another example of an innovation pioneered by ProPlate® is Nitinol fused to dissimilar materials, such as stainless steel. Ni-Ti and stainless steel are very difficult to weld together due to Nitinol oxidizing naturally, making it not adhere properly. If micro-welded without the addition of plating, they can have poor tensile strength. Through electroplating both ends of each material with Gold (SS and Nickel-Titanium), the materials can be successfully welded or soldered together. This is possible because ProPlate® has developed processes to electroplate both materials, and Gold is an excellent metal for solderability. This can grant substantial cost savings to make a component with less Nitinol because of its high cost.
Medical braided catheters and guidewires can also benefit from Gold electroplating. As mentioned before, Gold is biocompatible and a dense radiopaque metal. ProPlate® has developed a proprietary process named, Vizi-Band®, which allows medical device manufacturers to accurately coat customized RO markers onto these components. Catheter braids with complex geometries can have a marker coated directly to them without crimping, and because it is atomically bonded, there is no risk for marker dislodgment. Also, guidewire bright tips can be Gold plated on for radiopacity where it is difficult for traditional markers to be installed. The more complex the geometry of a component, the more difficult or impossible it is for traditional markers to be installed, and with the need for miniaturization of microcatheters coatings, a marker band can allow for a lower profile compared to a machined band. Medical suture rings used for arterial, femoral, and venous cannulae introduction can require a radiopaque coating of Gold.
Gold plating of plastics has many medical device component applications as well. ProPlate® has developed a proprietary process for electroplating polymers selectively that meets the stringent toxicity and biocompatibility requirements. Traditional plating on plastic processes requires toxic chromic acid etches to get adhesion to the substrate. However, through Meta-Poly®, selective metal coating onto polymers, ProPlate® can successfully adhere metal to plastic without toxic etchants. This Gold plating on polymer substrates can be used for radiopaque markers in catheter devices like extruded tubing, balloon catheters, stents, and catheter tips. It can also be used for electrical circuits through plating selectively and creating current-conducting paths onto a polymer.
Gold metal plating is required to manufacture medical contacts for electrical conductivity and corrosion resistance. One example of an application for Gold plating in which ProPlate® helped a manufacturer cut costs and maintain high-quality standards was for hearing aid battery contacts. The fabrication of the battery contacts was performed through progressive die stamping of beryllium copper, which would be Nickel-plated before Gold. Due to the small and fragile nature of the contact, and the damage caused by barrel plating techniques, ProPlate® suggested “rack plating” for the contacts and had the OEM change the stamp to a strip. With a custom fabricated rack, the parts were Gold plated at high volumes without damaging them, which gave them the electrical conductivity and corrosion resistance they needed while saving the supplier defect and damage costs of the battery contacts.
Thoracotomy surgical instrument handles such as scissors, tweezers, graspers, forceps, and needle holders can require medical-grade Gold plating for identification purposes. The Gold plating function also adds corrosion resistance and an aesthetic appeal while remaining bio-compatible.
ProPlate® partners with medical technology companies to develop innovations through unique metal coating technologies that drive commercial success and result in improved patient outcomes.
Learn More About ProPlate's Medical Gold Plating Capabilities
Contact us to request information about our plating and metal finishing services
We Are Dedicated to Partnering With Our Customers
Professional Plating Inc. has specialized in engineered coating solutions for the medical industry for more than 35 years. The company works with customers from the prototype development stage through production to create custom electroplating solutions designed for unique requirements. ProPlate® has pioneered selective precious metal plating innovations for medical devices and applications such as balloon catheters, radiopaque markers, and catheter-based components and continues to be an industry-leading electroplater.