You probably know about the extremely high and demanding criteria medical equipment and devices are subjected to.
One of the most important elements is the material used in their fabrication. It needs to meet many requirements not to harm patients’ lives, and the Stainless Steel 304 is one of the top choices.
Let’s check why it is the case, and why according to many specialists and professional, it is the perfect material for medical equipment and devices.
Different Kinds of Steel: Why 304?
420, O1 tool, 316 and many others. All of them have their own purposes, for example there are many subtypes of stainless steel 316, also known as marine-grade stainless steel:
- 316: Used in certain medical implants, food processing, cladding of nuclear fuel, etc.
- 316L: Used in medical implants, used for the production of textile bleaches, etc.
- 316F: Perfect for machine screw parts and surgical implants
- 316N: Best for chemical handling equipment thanks to its great resistance to corrosion
The world of steel is vast and highly varied as you can see.
For example, tools like bars used in chainsaw and chainsaw mills, particularly specialized ones, use steel alloys. The company Tsumura from Japan uses SKS51 tool steel to craft their chainsaw bars due to its high content of carbon (0.75%-0.85%).
But why is 304 suitable for medical purposes? Right below you shall find the explanation.
Unique Properties Make It Perfect:
Low Carbon Content and High Resistance to Corrosion:
Unlike tool steels like SKS 51, the material used in the fabrication of medical devices needs to be low in carbon, just compare 0.08% or 0.03% (304L) versus 0.75%-0.85%.
Another key feature is its high resistance to corrosion. This, along with the extremely-low content of carbon, makes sure it tolerates frequent use and wear, sterilization and that it doesn’t react with tissues.
Moreover it’s rust-proof, which reduces to its minimal expression the risk of infection from rust.
Easy to Work and Adapt:
It offers another advantage to the medical industry: It’s very easy to work and it does not need annealing. Due to these characteristics it’s frequently used in the fabrication of hollow ware like sinks and pans.
The 304L is very special, because it can be used even in the most complex shapes without the need for annealing.
Effective in Hard Conditions:
Unlike other types of stainless steel, the 304 has proven over and over again its effectiveness even in hard conditions.
We are precisely talking about the 304L variant, which can be used even under very cold temperatures. It has also proven to tolerate high temperatures very well.
Moreover, it has proven to react well to highly-corrosive environments showing an outstanding resistance to inter-granular corrosion.
This stainless steel has excellent antibacterial properties, which logically, are necessary for medical development in order to protect patients’ lives. There’s a special kind of this steel known as 304-Cu SS, which due to its copper content, has shown superior antibacterial properties.
Another necessary requirement for surgical and medical equipment it to use materials which are not magnetic, and this is another feature present in the 304-SS.
The equipment and devices fabricated with this material are ideal for operating patients with implants in their bodies which would react negatively to magnetism.
Finally, it’s also important to mention that it’s recyclable.
These are the reasons on why 304-SS is perfect for medical devices and equipment. Its properties have allowed it to become a top-choice by many manufacturers, because it provides an excellent performance and keeps patients’ lives safe.