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Stainless steel profiles for precision parts in medical technology

Today, stainless steel is extensively used for various applications, including those that can have an impact on human health. It is used in many hospitals, medical practices and rescue services. Stainless steel has played a significant role in medical safety in hospitals for decades and it is also widely used in the field of medical technology. In these operational areas, stainless steel can be directly exposed to the human body; for example, in medical instruments and implants, which are expected to function without adversely affecting the pharmaceutical compositions they come into contact with and are also expected to be easily sanitized. For example, stainless steel is a commonly used material for fixation instruments that help repair bone fractures. Special requirements are imposed on the surface of these implants. Instruments designed for medical applications must comply with strict standards and manufacturing requirements. The simplicity of the cleanliness and sterility of stainless steel surgical instruments and devices is a clear illustration of how this material protects our health.

The benefits of stainless steel

In the context of increasing antibiotic resistance, it has never been more critical to make sure that surfaces and tools in all patient facilities can be easily cleaned and sanitized. The use of stainless steel in medical technology has the advantage that body tissue does not react chemically with the medical instruments. Stainless steel surfaces can be better sanitized than other materials and need lower concentrations of disinfectant to provide the level of hygiene required by law, in addition safeguarding the environment by limiting wastewater discharges. Moreover, stainless steel is convincing for its corrosion resistance, antibacterial properties, hygiene, good formability, strength, manufacturing precision and recyclability. The material does not discolour and can be produced as chemically inert, safe, smooth and inabsorbent surfaces that can be completely cleaned and disinfected without deterioration or corrosion.

Corrosion resistance

The material’s high corrosion resistance is one of the key factors that make stainless steel particularly suitable for the manufacture of medical devices, thus reducing the risk of infection from rust or other surface defects. Corrosion resistance is not an intrinsic material property, but constitutes the behavior of the material due to its interaction with the environment and the material’s surface. The corrosion resistance of stainless steel is ensured by a passive surface film that can be regarded as a barrier between the alloy and the environment. This passive film is a continuous, non-porous surface layer that, under normal conditions, automatically regenerates when it is destroyed. More precisely, stainless steel is, passivated when a clean surface is exposed to an outside medium which can provide sufficient oxygen to build a surface layer of chromium-rich oxide. Corrosion resistance can be additionally optimized by alloying steel with both chromium and nickel. Polished stainless steel Medical instruments as well as implants have smooth and mostly extremely polished surfaces. Polished surfaces provide better corrosion resistance and a chemically clean surface with optimal surface roughness.

To conclude

The application of stainless steel in surgical devices, medical instruments and surgical implants is safe for public health. It is based on decades of intensive experience and is regulated by international standards. Through choice of the right types of steel and proper design and manufacture of the equipment needed, stainless steel is safe for human health in medical environments. We are pleased that our industry has helped to keep hospitals clean, minimizing the spread of infections and ultimately saving countless lives.