Best Surgical Instrument Tray Types for Sterilization


Surgical trays must meet the stringent hygiene standards of the healthcare industry with routine cleaning and disinfection. Trays that cannot be thoroughly cleaned, sanitized, and dried risk the spread of infection throughout a healthcare setting. Healthcare facilities must select the right instrument trays for sterilization to deliver safe, responsible care. We will explore the types of instrument trays available in the healthcare industry, the best sterilization trays for surgical instruments, and why custom stainless steel sterilization trays are ideal for a healthcare setting.
Best Surgical Instrument Tray Types for Sterilization Best Surgical Instrument Tray Types for Sterilization

The Different Types of Instrument Trays

Selecting the ideal type of surgical tray for your application requires consideration of the types of medical components you intend to process and how you will move the trays throughout the facility. There are three primary types of instrument trays:
  • Perforated Tray: These trays are made from a stainless steel sheet metal with perforated holes to enable easier air flow.
  • Mesh Tray: Wire mesh trays are constructed from stainless steel grade 316 or grade 304 and can be electropolished or passivated. They offer exceptional airflow for thorough sterilization and are a preferred choice throughout the healthcare industry for sorting medicines and instruments. The wire mesh is typically 4 openings per linear inch and is made of 0.063” wire diameter material..
  • Divider Tray: This is a tray for sorting and storing instruments like scalpels, forceps, and scissors while drying. Typically this design has pockets for consistent presentation of items required in surgery. 

Wire Mesh vs. Solid Metal Trays: Which Is Best for Surgical Instrument Sterilization?

Wire mesh trays offer several advantages as instrument trays compared to solid metal trays.

Wire Mesh Trays Benefits

  • Effective Sterilization: The open design of wire mesh trays facilitates thorough steam penetration for improved sterilization and faster drying of instruments.
  • Improved Air Circulation: Wire mesh trays allow for better air circulation, reducing moisture buildup on instruments and inhibiting bacterial growth.
  • Easy Inspection: Wire mesh trays have an open design that allows users to visually inspect the instruments inside for damage and completeness.
  • Efficient Cleaning: The open design of wire mesh trays allows for efficient cleaning and sterilization of instruments.

Drawbacks of Solid Metal Trays

  • Potential for Poor Sterilization: Due to their closed design, solid metal trays can reduce the effectiveness of steam sterilization and drying.
  • Risk of Moisture Trapping: Solid metal trays can build up moisture, allowing bacteria and microorganisms to thrive.
  • Limited Visibility: The closed design of solid metal trays makes it challenging to visually inspect and account for instruments in the tray.

Why Use Stainless Steel for Surgical Trays?

Stainless steel is an ideal material for surgical trays because it resists corrosion from materials like bodily fluids and cleaning agents. Grade 316 stainless steel, in particular, is preferred for healthcare applications due to its resistance to chlorides. Compared to aluminum trays, steel trays offer exceptional strength and can better withstand damage from bumping and dropping. Stainless steel also provides greater longevity, making it a long-lasting investment for the healthcare facility. For these reasons, stainless steel surgical trays can reduce the total cost of ownership with longer service times and easier sterilization compared to other tray materials.

The Advantages of Custom Sterilization Trays

Custom sterilization trays are tailored for their specific application, thus reducing sterilization times by up to 40%. Healthcare personnel also reduce the time spent organizing supplies and materials. With all sterilized instruments in the right place, custom trays can save time in an emergency, contributing to better quality care.

In addition, custom-designed sterilizing trays significantly reduce the risk of contamination, resulting in better long-term health outcomes for patients.


Elevate Your Sterilization Process: Get Custom Instrument Trays From Marlin Steel

Sterilizing trays are available in several types according to material composition and dimensions. Stainless steel instrument trays with a wire mesh construction offer various advantages over other designs, providing thorough cleaning, sterilization, and drying to reduce the spread of infection in a healthcare setting.

Marlin Steel designs and manufactures stainless steel surgical trays made 100% in the USA. We are ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 13485-certified to deliver industry-approved medical devices. Browse our stainless steel medical trays or contact us to speak with a team member about your surgical instrument tray needs.

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