Aluminum vs. Stainless Steel in Hospital Applications

Both aluminum and stainless steel are frequently used in healthcare installations. Each of these high-performance metals offers unique benefits and properties, specifically suited to different applications within hospitals and Ambulatory Surgical Centers. How do you choose which material is most appropriate for your use? Architects, Medical Equipment Planners and SPD managers may question which material to request, especially in the specification of Stainless Steel Hospital Pass Thru Windows vs. Aluminum Pass-Thru Windows for Sterile Processing Department. 

Continental Metal Products chooses only the very best materials to ensure that their OR Cabinets, Pass Through Windows, Instrument Pegboards,, surgical scrub sinks and other healthcare equipment meet the rigorous demands of hospital and Surgical center applications.

Stainless Steel Hospital Operating room cabinets - better alternative than aluminum and other materials Continental Metal Products

Stainless Steel Operating Room Console

Weight Comparison

Stainless Steel, by volume, is three times heavier than aluminum. This is important, depending on your requirements. Heavier metals are stronger.

Aluminum and aluminum alloys are known for it’s lightweight, characteristics. Its versatility makes it suited to automotive, rail and aerospace industries.  If the installation is light- duty (supplies, tools, mobile carts), more ease of use may be provided from aluminum components. However, in structural and heavy-duty use applications, stainless will be a better alternative. To meet the demands of Hospital Operating Rooms, Cath Labs, Hybrid ORs, and EP Labs, Stainless Steel Surgical Supply Cabinet specification is the best practice. More about Stainless Steel Surgical Cabinets 


Stainless Steel hospital Instrument Pegboards increased strength and durability vs aluminum and powder coated steel

Stainless Steel hospital Instrument Pegboards increased strength and durability vs aluminum and powder coated steel

Overall Strength 

Stainless Steel’s increased weight provides increased strength. It is not likely to bend under pressure. Stainless Steel withstands stress, shock, pressure, and impact, in a manner that aluminum cannot. Stainless steel is best for a wide range of structural purposes and applications. For SPD and OR Instrument Pegboards, as well as the Pegboards utilized inside Surgical Table Accessory Cabinet, Stainless Steel is the material of choice. More about Stainless Steel Pegboards 

Stainless Steel Hospital Pass thru windows are a better alternative than aluminum

Stainless Steel Hospital Sterile Processing window in durable Stainless Steel


Along with being stronger than aluminum, stainless steel is far more durable. It holds up in corrosive environments and is less likely to scratch. Products that require heavy duty, constant use, such as Hospital Sterile Processing Department, SPD, Central Sterile, or Decontamination, require Stainless Steel Hospital Pass Thru Windows to transfer surgical tools and instruments. Aluminum Pass Thru Windows are more suitable for light-duty customer service applications. Only Stainless Steel Hospital Pass Thru Windows are clean room grade. more about Stainless Steel Pass Thru Windows 


Stainless steel possesses higher weldability compared to aluminum. It is easier to weld and the final welds are more consistent.  It boasts excellent malleability and can be formed into required shapes.


Aluminum is a strong conductor, which is not something needed for healthcare requirements. 304 Stainless steel is non-magnetic and exhibits poor thermal and electrical conductivity.

Corrosion Resistance

Stainless steel provides superior corrosion resistance, along with a surface area that is extremely desirable for hospital Operating room, SPD and pharmacy applications. The strength of iron and the resistance properties of chromium are required in these healthcare installations,  as well as an identifiable, aesthetic finish.

Stainless steel has the compositional ability to form a protective surface that prevents corrosion. This occurs because the chromium found in all stainless steels reacts quickly with oxygen environments, in a similar manner as iron. The important difference,  is that only a very fine layer of chromium will oxidize (often just a few molecules in thickness). This incredibly thin barrier is non-reactive and highly durable. It will adhere to stainless steel surfaces and will not transfer or react further with other materials. Additionally, it is self-renewing in that it will replenish if damaged or removed. Once oxidized, or passivized, stainless steel typically rusts at a rate of less than 0.002 inches in a given year.

When maintained, stainless steel offers clean, beautiful bright surfaces ideal for hospital installations that will last decades.

Infection Control

It is vital to have surfaces that are easily cleaned and disinfected in the hospital environment, with cleaning and disinfection protocols tailored to reduce HAIs ( Hospital Acquired Infections) and SSIs (Surgical Site Infections). Stainless Steel is the best option for healthcare equipment, due to its anti-microbial properties and ease of cleaning. Widely used hospital-grade disinfectant have had high percentages efficiency for inactivation of adhering cells of common OR and hospital pathogens, demonstrating effective cleanability and disinfection of stainless steel. Infection Control is probably the most important reason Sterile Processing chooses Stainless Steel Hospital Pass thru windows vs aluminum.

304 Stainless Steel

304 stainless steel is the most common of the stainless steel family. It contains roughly 16 to 25 percent chromium and up to 36 percent nickel by composition, as well as small amounts of carbon and manganese. The most common form of 304 stainless steel is 18-8, or 18/8 stainless steel which contains 18 percent chromium and 8 percent nickel.

Overall,  Stainless steel offers superior traits when it comes to strength, corrosion resistance and workability that carry over when properly maintained or reused.

Benefits of Stainless Steel for Hospital Equipment

  • Corrosion resistance
  • Strength
  • Aesthetic Appeal
  • Hygienic Properties
  • Ease & Efficiency of Disinfecting
  • Lifecycle characteristics
  • Flexibility of fabrication
  • High & Low-Temperature Resistance

Continental Metal Products utilizes ONLY 304 and 316 Stainless steel on all of our Stainless Steel Hospital equipment to ensure the very best for all healthcare applications.

Learn More about Continental Metal Products’ Stainless Steel Healthcare Equipment

Continental Metal’s Designs in  Stainless Steel to Optimize these Properties

CMP utilizes best practices in the design, construction and beautiful finish of all equipment specific to hospital surgical and ancillary areas.

Design of Healthcare Equipment:

CMP’s designs clean lines, combined with beautiful craftsmanship, that nurses continually tell us how beautiful our Stainless Steel Equipment is.

Construction Elements:


CMP’s standard equipment is are constructed of 18 gauge, type 304 stainless steel.


Stainless steel produces equipment that will last for decades. Welding ( fusing ) two pieces of stainless steel together the seam, produces a result that at the weld,  becomes even stronger than before. It also eliminates a crevice that is hard to disinfect and would provide bacteria a home to proliferate. All CMP exposed welds to be done by Heliarc process and ground and polished to match No. 4 finish. This heliarc process of welding keeps the heat at a minimum by utilization of a shield. In comparison, The arc welding used for aluminum and other metals produces intense heat, creating carbon which will overcome rust and corrode. CMP’s tried and true processes, developed over 70 years, produces an invisible, clean weld with resistance to corrosion.


Most important in the finished end product is the finishing and polishing. CMP’s manufacturing team has a long history of pride regarding the products that are delivered to healthcare facilities. Our founder, Harry Siegal insisted on beautifully finished products, and his standards have never been compromised. All CMP equipment is polished to a #4 finish, providing a beautiful smooth surface that is easy to clean and resists corrosion

These important attributes from industry leading design to finishing, produces the quality stainless steel healthcare equipment that end users around the world have come to rely on from Continental Metal Products for over 70 years.


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