Creating a Custom Wire Basket for Passivating Surgical Equipment

In Custom Wire Baskets, Parts Washing

Marlin Steel on March 21, 2018

Surgical tools need to be extremely resistant to oxidation corrosion from exposure to blood--which is why they're often put through passivation to increase their corrosion resistance.Passivation processes are highly beneficial for surgical equipment such as scalpels, syringe needles, and the like. Not only does passivation help to remove contaminants from the surface of surgical tools, it can help to improve the performance of the corrosion-resisting oxide layer of stainless steel alloys.

This boost in corrosion resistance is particularly beneficial for surgical tools—largely because blood is rich in oxygen and other compounds that can quickly corrode unprotected blades. By improving the protective oxide layer, the useful life of stainless steel surgical equipment can be greatly improved.

However, the passivation process can be a rough process on the containers that hold surgical equipment. After all, passivation often involves the use of nitric acid and other strong acidic compounds to strip free iron molecules from the surface of parts. This, naturally, means repeatedly exposing any baskets or trays used to hold those parts to strong acids.

So, when one medical supplies manufacturing company approached Marlin Steel to make custom wire baskets for a passivation and ultrasonic cleaning process for their surgical tool lines, Marlin Steel was able to quickly assemble the perfect basket to meet their needs by:

Collecting Information about the Client’s Passivation Process

The specific composition of the acids, and other elements of the passivation process, may change depending on the type of steel alloy being passivated. Because of this, whenever Marlin Steel is tasked with creating a custom wire basket or tray for passivating surgical equipment or other objects, Marlin always starts by asking for the specifics of the passivation process.

For this combination passivation/ultrasonic cleaning process, it was important to know:

  • The dimensions of the passivation system (size of the tank and openings for inserting/removing baskets);
  • What chemicals were being used in the process;
  • Desired external and internal basket dimensions;
  • Measurements of each part to be passivated;
  • How the parts needed to be held;
  • The duration of the passivation process; and
  • The severity of the ultrasonic waves used in the cleaning process.

This information would prove vital for knowing what the best custom basket design would be for the client’s needs.

Making the Perfect Basket the First Time

Traditionally, making the perfect custom wire basket for ultrasonic cleaning and passivation would be a long, drawn-out process. Baskets would be made using “best guess” logic based on what worked for similar projects in the past. Then, the physical prototype would be shipped out to the customer and put through a series of stress tests over the course of a few weeks or months. If problems were found, the basket would have to be redesigned for the process to start over from the beginning.

There are a few problems with this method:

  1. Time to Delivery. Physical prototyping is painfully slow, and can push back manufacturing deadlines significantly.

  2. Cost of Prototypes. The metal for the baskets, shipping costs, and lost production time from the lack of a viable basket all have a cost—biting into operating budgets.

  3. Difficulty Identifying the Root Cause of a Basket Failure. With physical prototyping tests, it can sometimes be hard to be 100% sure of the reason why a basket fails. Did chemical corrosion compromise the basket’s tensile strength? Or, did the effects of ultrasonic vibration cause it? Knowing the cause of failure is a must for correcting such failures in the future.

To save time and resources on nailing down the perfect custom basket design, Marlin Steel uses a faster and more effective form of testing that uses physics simulation software to test a design virtually.

In mere minutes, Marlin’s engineering team can simulate years of use—without needing to waste a single cubic inch of steel on a prototype. Even better, if a part fails in the physics simulation, the cause of the failure is automatically logged and reported to the team. Because the engineer knows the cause of the failure, it’s easier to specifically counter the problem.

For example, if a basket fails because intense vibrations shake it apart at the weld joints, then those joints can be redesigned to be more resistant to vibrational stress. Or, if corrosion was the culprit, then the materials used for the basket could be changed to make it more resistant.

Making Consistent Quality

A design can be technically perfect, but that won’t matter if the end product isn’t manufactured to a consistent standard. Creating a consistent part that can meet tight tolerances is one of the biggest challenges in any custom manufacturing application.

This is why Marlin Steel uses advanced manufacturing automation to build its custom steel wire baskets and trays for medical industry clients. These manufacturing robots can work day in and day out without tiring or getting distracted. This lets them consistently manufacture parts to meet millimeter-precise tolerances.

The consistency of manufacturing automation tools helps to minimize parts rejection rates—helping Marlin increase throughput while reducing costs from scrapped baskets.

Because of Marlin’s investments in physics simulation software and factory automation—in addition to gathering detailed information about the customer’s passivation process—making the perfect custom wire baskets for the client’s passivation and ultrasonic cleaning process was easy. This allowed Marlin to accomplish in a couple of weeks what would take months for a company without these tools.

Get a custom passivation basket or tray for your own medical manufacturing process by contacting Marlin Steel today!


Author: Marlin Steel
Marlin Steel
Marlin Steel is a leading manufacturer of custom‐engineered products from steel wire and sheet metal. Its industrial material handling containers serve many industries including aerospace, defense, medical and automotive.

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