How Steel is Critical to the Medical Industry

The medical industry is responsible for what’s perhaps most important of all—human life. When dealing with human life, it’s critical that medical instruments, implants, surgical tools, and so forth be of the highest quality. Hospitals, rehab centers, and other types of medical facilities have some of the strictest hygienic and performance requirements. Injection molding is commonly used to manufacture medical components and devices using FDA approved medical grade plastic. These plastics also pair well with metal materials such as stainless steel, to create enhanced medical product attributes. Let’s take a look at why and how stainless steel is so valuable and important to the industry. 

Why Steel Matters for the Medical Industry 

Several qualities contribute to steel’s excellence as a material for medical devices and tools. Here is an overview of several of them. 

Steel is one of the most durable materials, and by investing in equipment, such as MRI machines, CT scans, and Ultrasound equipment that is made with steel, facilities ensure that their investment will last for a while. Additionally, steel is used in components for beds, such as the brackets and braces that lift and allow beds to move easily. The last thing a facility needs is for a bracket or brace to break while they are transporting a patient from one location to another. Durability also becomes critical for implants that are placed inside a person’s body. Surgery is an invasive procedure, and the longer a component can last, the better. Steel’s durability offers peace of mind as well as efficacy.

Corrosion-resistant and Rust-resistant
Rust or corrosion can quickly render an item unusable, especially in an environment that demands high-quality and hygienic tools and equipment. Stainless steel’s resistance to corrosion varies based on the alloy (mix of metals).  This resistance is due to the presence of chromium inside the stainless steel, and the higher the chromium levels, the more resistant the steel will be.

Easy to sanitize
Stainless steel, especially, is very prolific in medical environments. It’s generally very resistant to bacteria and requires significantly less sanitization than many other materials. Additionally, it’s easier to sanitize than many other materials. In a hospital environment that can be more rife with bacteria than most places, stainless steel’s benefit is obvious, from a cleanliness and hygienic perspective. 

One of the most important benefits of steel is that it is machinable. Machinable means that a machine can cut or shape a material. One way of machining items is computer numerical control (CNC) machining. A computer follows programming to cut or shape materials into parts. CNC steel parts ensure precision and the highest quality and level of tolerance, when it comes to steel equipment, devices, and tools. Precision to the micro-millimeter is critical for tools and equipment that will be used to tend to human life. 

Examples of Medical Equipment and Devices That Are Made From Steel Components

– Surgical Scissors in a variety of sizes and shapes 

– Prosthetics 

– Control panels, motors, and conduits 

– Parts used by robotic surgical systems

– Implants that are placed inside the body

– Wheelchairs, walkers, and IV stands 

– Scalpels and other surgical equipment

CNC Machining for Steel Parts 

CNC machining is one of the most effective ways to create medical equipment, tools, and devices. In fact, CNC machining has helped facilitate advances in medical technology and equipment. Additionally, many items, such as implants, are only needed in small quantities and can therefore be very costly to manufacture using other methods. CNC machining, however, can offset the expense, as the tools can be reused, and the designs easily adapted.