Architecture: Operating Theatres


S. Camillo-Forlanini

S. Camillo-Forlanini

Vitreous enamel in the operating theatre

Durability, maximum hygiene, easy assembly and integration with technological installations, together with a wide range of colours that favour recovery: these are the advantages offered by vitreous enamel panels for operating theatres and hospital interiors.

There are many sound reasons for stating that vitreous enamel is the ideal material for lining operating theatres and other spaces in hospitals and health service locations in general.
Topping the list are the well-established qualities that derive from its vitreous nature and range from its hardness to its porosity free impervious nature which offers a guarantee of hygiene.
Along with its resistance to abrasion is so important because it ensures that there are no bacteria, cracks and interstices that could then be used by germs and moulds to take hold and proliferate. This high degree of hygiene is particularly important in hospital environments, where frequent use has to be made of sometimes very strong detergents and solvents for fast cleaning, decontaminating and disinfecting operations that would have any other material on its knees in short shrift – but not so vitreous enamel.

The characteristics of the panels themselves also offer some interesting advantages: their boxed, doubled edges facilitate assembly and attachment to the frame of the substructure, using bayonet/T-square attachments fixed to the edges. In addition, an ultra slimline joint can be formed between pairs of panels, which is then filled with a special sealant that stops any impurities from collecting in the space. As these panels have no horizontal joints, they are ideal for housings for all of systems necessary for making an operating theatre functional: medical gases, windows for passing surgical instruments and waste, diaphanoscopes and sterilisation equipment, as well as the power and air conditioning circuits. Meanwhile, cavities inside the panelling can house all the concealed plant systems, enabling everything to be maintained properly and easily: from time to time, all you have to do is remove those panels that are necessary to uncover the section of the plant systems that you need to check.

The extensive colour range in which vitreous enamel panels can be specified is another factor worth serious consideration, when designing health service interiors in general: this is because colour is an element whose importance is gaining increasing recognition. The psychological impact of colour, not only on the people who work in such structures, but above all on the patients. It is they who need to be surrounded by a restful, relaxing environment capable of inspiring them with the positive sensations that will help them have a better experience from their stay in hospital and aid faster recovery.

Enamel coating – Functional Characteristics
Characteristic Properties References
Vitreous enamel coatings applied to steel panels intended for architecture   EN 14431
Steel substrate   EN 10209
Cleanability Vitreous enamel can be easily cleaned. Generally a damp sponge is all it takes to wipe away any traces of dirt. NF A 92-032
Hygiene Does not allow bacteria to proliferate. The high degree of hygiene is particularly important in hospital environments. Bacteriological study undertaken by the Modena Hospital Institutes
Resistance to temperature rises Enamelled surfaces do not alter in any way when subjected to sudden temperature rises, even when it is significant ISO 2747
Resistance to fire Incombustible ISO 1182
Chemical resistance Properties References
Resistance to acids Acids at room temperature do not attack enamelled surfaces. This is a very important point in hospitals where frequent use has to be made of sometimes very strong detergents and solvents for fast cleaning, decontaminating and disinfecting operations.
Hydrofluoric acid shall not be used on vitreous enamelled surfaces.
EN 14483-1
Resistance to normal detergents (pH> 7) Liquid and cream detergents do not scratch or alter enamel ISO 4533
EN ISO 4535
UNI 8026
Resistance to organic solvents Enamel is immune to attack from alcohol, trichloroethylene, acetone etc. N. A.
Mechanical resistance Properties References
Adherence The enamel coating must adhere to the steel support EN 10209 annex D
UNI 8883
Hardness 5 -7 Mohs Scale The enamel coating is hard and is not chipped easily EN 101
Scratch resistance Vitreous enamel is not scratched easily EN ISO 15695
Resistance to fire Incombustible ISO 1182

Garibaldi-San Luigi
Tomaselli CATANIA

Evangelic Hospital

Civil Hospital
SS. Antonio
e Margherita



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