On an average day in the United States, nearly 141 thousand people undergo surgical procedures in operating rooms filled with stainless steel instruments, equipment and implants. Surgeons repair damaged blood vessels, remove brain tumors and replace joints in delicate surgeries that require incredible precision.
Under the bright lights of the operating theater, light reflecting off all that polished metal can potentially inhibit the surgeons’ ability to see clearly. Using micro-abrasive blasting, skilled technicians can restore a matte finish to metal instruments, thus reducing glare and improving safety.
Metal of Choice for Surgical Equipment
Stainless steel is a versatile metal, perfect for the operating suite. It is rust proof, strong and resistant to both corrosion and stain. It is also non-magnetic and will not react with bodily tissue. Perhaps most importantly, stainless steel sterilizes easily. Because it is non-porous, it does not soak up bacteria. This is critical to reducing instances of surgical site infections.
Consequently, a quick glance around the operating room will show stainless steel tables, sinks, bowls, chemical containers and instrument trays. The IV that delivers critical medicine likely uses a stainless-steel cannula. The surgeon employs a tray full of stainless-steel instruments, from scalpels to dilators, and may insert stainless steel implants such as artificial joints.
Reducing Glare for Surgical Safety
Lighting in the surgery suite is critical to the success of the surgical process. Surgeons need sufficient illumination to distinguish delicate tissue and perform complex operations. If that light reflects off the mirror-like surface of the surgical equipment, however, the glare can lead to poor visuals and life-threatening mistakes.
Fortunately, while stainless steel is polished to high degree, the right surface preparation leaves a matte or satin finish that reflects minimal light. This both reduces glare and diminishes the possibility of a laser reflecting accidentally. A less reflective surface also minimizes eye fatigue.
Micro-Abrasive Blasting to the Rescue
Technicians can use a number of different methods to obtain a dull finish on stainless steel, including acid etching and micro-abrasive blasting. These two methods produce a similar finish. However, unlike acid etching, micro-abrasive blasting achieves the matte look without removing any material from the surface of the instrument.
In micro-abrasive blasting, compressed air and very fine powder are mixed together and forced through a small nozzle at high velocity. Depending on the abrasive powder and type of blasting nozzle, the process can be used to cut, etch, peen or remove contaminants from even the most delicate surfaces.
To dull the surface of a stainless-steel instrument, technicians use tiny glass beads as the abrasive powder. The bead blasting gives a smooth, frosted finish to the metal. And because the beads do not actually break the surface, there is no risk of contamination or corrosion.
Partners for Success
Surface preparation of surgical instruments is just one of many possible applications of micro-abrasive blasting in the medical industry. The precision and versatility of abrasive blasting make it a preferred method for removing conformal coatings in medical electronics, deburring stents and other implantable devices and a host of other delicate tasks.
For the past 65 years, Airbrasive has partnered with organizations around the world. We provide a wide range of high-quality abrasive powders, nozzles and blasting equipment. And, we work hard to provide your facility the optimal micro-blasting solution to meet your need.