Stainless Steel – A Modern Medical Marvel

Stainless steel – and more specifically, Grade 304 stainless steel – is one of the most commonly used materials in the manufacture of medical appliances and devices. This amazingly versatile metal offers high corrosion resistance and low carbon content, making it ideal for a wide variety of medical applications.

Medical professionals need to know that any instruments they use, or devices they implant, will be completely inert within the patient’s body, and won’t react to body tissue. Surgical implements also have to be able to withstand repeated exposure to chemicals, cleaning products and sterilisation, without any degradation of their exterior or compromise in their quality. Stainless steel offers all this and more.

Grade 304 stainless steel is extremely workable, even though it’s very strong. It can be drawn into all kinds of different shapes, making ideal for surgical vessels and hollow ware, such as bowls, sinks and pans.

Other medical equipment commonly made from stainless steel includes orthopaedic implants (Grade 316 and 316L are more often used than 304 for this application), artificial heart valves (also 316 and 316L), screws, plates, prostheses, syringes and needles, catheters, sensor probes and ear scope nozzles.

Grade 316 stainless steel is often used for surgical applications, as it offers the following advantages:

  • High corrosion resistance – reduces the risk of infection from surface imperfections caused by oxidation or chemical exposure.
  • Excellent antibacterial properties – by introducing silver or copper into the surface of the metal, researchers have developed a coating that not only kills bacteria but is also very hard, and resistant to wear and tear during repeated cleaning. Bacteria-resistant stainless steel surfaces can be used in hospitals to help prevent the spread of superbug infections.
  • Non-magnetic – making it ideal for use in operating theatres or implants within the body.

Surgical grade stainless steels comprise major elements such as chromium, nickel, and molybdenum, which significantly contribute to their attractive properties. Chromium, for example, improves the metal’s corrosion and scratch resistance, making it perfect for repeated cleaning and sterilisation. Nickel helps give stainless steel its smooth and highly polishable finish, making it very easy to clean, and molybdenum gives hardness after forming, which makes it ideal for sharp, cutting edges like scalpel blades.

Steelmor is a supplier and manufacturer of stainless steel to a huge range of industries, including medical supply. We’re always on call to help you find the very best stainless products for your needs, so contact us today to see how we can help.