Creating biocompatible coatings for medical devices

What are biocompatible coatings?

Biocompatible coatings are designed to be compatible with living systems. This means that when a coating is in contact with a living system, it should not trigger a reaction. In the medical industry, it has become increasingly popular to use biocompatible coatings on implants and instruments, to avoid patients having an adverse reaction to these devices.


What types of coatings can be used in the medical industry?

Whilst there are a wide range of thermal spray coatings available, only a couple of these applications are suitable for use in the medical industry. As standard, metal is often used to produce thermal spray coatings. However, it is recommended that ceramic be used when creating coatings for the medical industry. With increased corrosion resistance, ceramic coatings can withstand the chemical reaction that occurs when in contact with living systems.

Plasma Spray Coating

Plasma spraying is one of the most common methods of applying ceramic coatings to medical devices. Through the generation of a high density arc current between cathode and anode, plasma is formed. Properties of the plasma stream can be controlled by electric arc settings, influencing the acceleration of the chosen material. This process can create ceramic coatings with tailored microstructural properties, for application to different medical devices.

High Velocity Oxygen Fuel Coating

High velocity oxygen fuel is our recommended way of creating biomedical coatings. Using ceramic as the deposited material, high velocity oxygen fuel is able to reach a higher flame temperature. Way above the melting point of ceramic, this produces a molten material which can be heavily impacted onto the surface. We have found that this process can generate ceramic coatings with increased density and decreased porosity, making it ideal for use in the medical industry.


How can biocompatible coatings be used in the medical industry?

There are a number of ways that biocompatible coatings can be applied in the medical industry. Where it used to be common for patients to have an adverse reaction to implants and instruments, the application of biocompatible coatings is decreasing these reactions, providing patients with an improved experience.


Implants used in cardiovascular and orthopaedic surgery are often made up of metals. Whilst these materials are mechanically strong, it is common for the body to reject these materials due to the low bonding properties. As the technology around implants progresses, ceramic coatings are starting to be recognised as a solution. With mechanical and biological properties, thermal spray coatings can be used to create a wide range of biocompatible components, including joints, plates and prostheses.


Surgical instruments such as forceps, scissors and scalpels need to maintain optimum functionality. With no room for error, it is critical that any equipment used during a medical procedure is functional and durable. By applying a thermal spray coating, medical instruments can be enhanced with corrosion resistance and wear resistance. There is even the option of adding anti-microbial properties to ceramic coatings, decreasing the likelihood of patients developing bacterial infections.


Apply biocompatible coatings to medical devices

EP Coatings specialises in the development of thermal spray coatings. Having worked with multiple clients in the medical industry, we have found that ceramic coatings produce the best results. From implants to instruments, we will work with you to understand your specific component requirements. This will enable our experts to create a coating with tailored microstructural properties.

To find out more about our thermal spray coatings for medical devices, get in touch.