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RF Shielding for MRI Scanners: Two Types Compared

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If you're preparing for the installation of an MRI scanner at your facility, you're also preparing for the installation of MRI shielding. As you begin this preparation, the question arises: "Which type of shielding do I need?"

To provide you with more details on RF shielding, Bill Mansfield of Professional Installations was kind enough to “co-host” this blog and bring further information for prospective shield buyers to know about the two materials used to build MRI RF shielding: copper and galvanized steel.

As with most things for which there are two choices, there are pros and cons to using either of them. Check out our comparison video below, or read the highlights in the text.

Copper MRI Shielding vs. Steel

RF Shielding for MRI- Copper vs. Galvanized Steel



Copper: Approximately $35,000 labor and material

Galvanized Steel: Approximately $17,500 labor and material


Copper: Seams are covered completely by soldering. This provides a tight seal and high structural integrity.

Galvanized Steel: Seams are typically screwed together. These are more prone to leakage and should be checked carefully every three years during recertification testing. Note: the zinc in galvanized steel will corrode if the shield is exposed to excess moisture.

Speed of installation

Copper: Approximately 6 to 8 days.

Galvanized Steel: Approximately 3 to 4 days.


Copper: A copper shield cannot be reinstalled. However, a substantial portion of the original material cost can be recuperated by scrapping it.

Galvanized Steel: Though galvanized steel is extremely heavy and difficult to move, the screwed-together seams of a steel shield make them movable from site-to-site. Bear in mind though, even slight differences in specifications between two sites can defeat intentions to reuse an RF shield.

Overall performance

Copper and Galvanized Steel: Shields of both materials function with similar effectiveness if they are installed, tested, and maintained correctly.

The Nutshell Version

If you’re looking for a solution that is more affordable but will still function reliably, you may want to choose galvanized steel. However, you’ll have to monitor it much more closely and pay for repairs more frequently.

If you’d prefer to pay a bit more to avoid the hassles of additional repairs, copper is the right choice.

If you have any further questions about MRI shielding or other installation concerns, contact our project management team or take a look at our MRI Project Planning Checklist!