When installing RF shielding, there are many choices to be made. One of the most important is which material to go with—copper or galvanized steel. The fact is, there are pros and cons to both options.
While price is a serious consideration, it’s important to evaluate the costs and benefits of your MRI RF Shielding decision. Understanding the long-term implications will help you make an informed decision that your facility will live with for the life of your MRI suite.
RF Shielding: Is Copper The Way To Go?
- MRI manufacturers agree that copper is the best material for RF shield construction. Copper is known to be one of the most conductive and reliable shielding mediums that is reasonably priced. The higher the material conductivity, the higher the performance – and the more reliable the shield, the longer the performance.
- IMEDCO recommends copper for MRI shielding (unless another shield medium is expressly specified by the magnet vendor) because it’s the only design concept that can be warrantied for a lifetime. Copper does not degrade over time due to oxidation or rust. Copper is also a good choice for areas prone to high humidity. Conversely, the zinc in galvanized steel, another popular shielding choice, deteriorates if it’s exposed to a lot of moisture.
- With copper, the seams overlap which (whether soldered or bolted) seals them tightly. Galvanized steel seams are clamped together and much more prone to RF compromise at the door frames. Further, the latest generation magnet specifications do not allow steel in the RF floor. Therefore, galvanized shield designs must use copper – this introduces dissimilar metals and causes issues at all floor to wall connections.
Should I Choose Copper or Steel RF Shielding For My MRI Suite?
The average cost savings for a galvanized steel RF shield (from a top-tiered vendor) is normally less than 10% the cost of its copper counterpart. When investing in an MRI acquisition, the initial lower galvanized steel cost will likely be eclipsed by the total life cycle savings of copper.
Here’s the bottom line: If affordability is the #1 factor, galvanized steel will function reliably for a period of time. Despite the slightly higher price, the long-term advantages of copper MRI shielding clearly justifies the price.
MRI Shielding Expert Advice
Be a better buyer, and look closely at long-term payout. Before making a decision, contact one of our consultants and we’ll help you make the right choice for your project. Professional service and expert support is our trademark—and we back it all up with the best warranties in the industry.
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