Metal medical devices support quality healthcare and help medical professionals assist individuals in maintaining their health. Metal materials are applicable in manufacturing the equipment and tools the healthcare industry uses in surgeries, medical check-ups, and non-invasive procedures.
Medical devices need to be strong, durable, resistant to corrosion, and easy to sterilize to perform reliably and safely. There are numerous types of medical-grade metals available, each providing unique benefits for a wide range of medical applications. Titanium and 316 stainless steel are in high demand in this industry, but other options include tantalum, nitinol, copper, and brass.
At Trinity Brand Industries, Inc., we understand the material properties that medical devices rely on for safe functionality and regulatory compliance. Read on for more information on metal applications in the medical industry.
Metal plays a fundamental role in the medical device industry. Surgical and medical procedures are highly complex, with a constant focus on the safety of patients and medical experts. Devices for performing such procedures must function optimally without fail, making metal an ideal choice for device fabrication.
One of metal’s most important qualities is its strength. Medical instruments and equipment must be durable to hold up against repeated use, as well as the high temperatures and chemicals that medical professionals use to sterilize such components. Metal achieves this functionality, with certain types also having high levels of advantageous corrosion resistance. While strong, metal is also flexible, lending versatility to the medical device industry in forming a variety of complex and uniquely configured shapes.
Metal devices have applications both inside and outside of the human body. For internal uses, the medical device industry uses titanium and stainless steel for stents, implants, plates, rods, and screws. Externally, medical equipment from surgical tools and instruments to railings and wheelchairs utilize metals like copper, stainless steel, brass, and titanium. Choosing the appropriate medical metal for an application is important to avoid biocompatibility issues such as allergic reactions, infections, or injuries.
The medical device industry makes use of a variety of materials, each with different properties and benefits. Depending on the application, device materials often need to be resistant to corrosion and chemicals, as well as non-toxic and non-magnetic. Common metals and metal alloys for the medical device industry are:
- Medical-grade titanium. Titanium is highly resistant to corrosion and is less likely than other materials to be rejected by the human body, displaying superb biocompatibility. Compared to stainless steel, titanium is equally strong and durable but much lighter. Titanium is beneficial for its compatibility with MRI and CT scans, due to its non-magnetic properties. Manufacturers use titanium to make implanted devices that manage heart functions, dispense medicine, and generate neurostimulation.
- 316 Stainless steel. Stainless steel is a highly durable, non-toxic material that is easy to sterilize due to its high heat tolerance and resistance to corrosion. 316 stainless steel is a popular type for medical devices due to its particularly high level of corrosion resistance. Medical professionals use implants, plates, screws, and more with this stainless steel composition.
- Copper. While copper is a softer metal, it has both antibacterial and antimicrobial characteristics, making it ideal for external applications and high-touch surfaces to reduce infection rates.
- Brass. Brass has good corrosion resistance and assists in signal transmission to small implants and diagnostic instruments.
Titanium and 316 stainless steel are the most commonly sought-after metal materials for manufacturing high-quality, strong, and medically safe devices and tools. At TBI we offer 301, 302, 304, 316, 430, 17-4, and 17-7 stainless steel, copper and brass, as well as several options for Grade 2 titanium.
Over the past 30 years, family-owned TBI has developed a reputation as a trusted supplier and fabricator of metal shim stock and USA-made components. In addition to our wide metal material selections, TBI offers numerous metal fabrication services on our state-of-the-art equipment. To assist customers worldwide in the medical device industry and many others, we utilize laser and waterjet cutting, metal stamping, computer numerical control (CNC) machining, wire electrical discharge machining (EDM), and 3D industrial printing.