Stainless steel has a lot of utility for different industries. One industry that can greatly benefit from the different uses of stainless steel is pharmaceutical manufacturing. What stainless steel uses are there in “big pharma,” and what are the benefits?
Here’s a quick explanation of some of the top uses of pharmaceutical stainless steel:
1: Product Sterilization Processes
Many pharmaceutical companies have to thoroughly sanitize either their products or their containers to ensure sterility and safety. Stainless steel wire baskets and trays are an excellent choice for carrying products and containers through both chemical and temperature-based sterilization processes.
The chemical resistance of most stainless steels make them long-lasting in such processes (particularly grade 316 stainless), while their high temperature tolerance means they can take temperatures that would melt plastic sterilization trays.
Electropolishing the stainless steel takes things a step further by eliminating microscopic surface flaws that would otherwise house microbes.
2: Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Equipment
To help ensure sterility, many pharmaceutical manufacturers use electropolished stainless steel for their manufacturing equipment. The microscopically-smooth surface of electropolished stainless steel is incredibly resistant to corrosion and easy to clean, making it ideal for pharmaceutical manufacturing.
3: Cryogenic Storage Containers
Austenitic stainless steel alloys are noted for excellent performance at low temperatures. As noted by AZO Materials, “At cryogenic temperatures the tensile strengths of austenitic stainless steel are substantially higher than at ambient temperatures. They also maintain excellent toughness.”
This makes austenitic stainless steel alloys excellent for cold storage or cryogenic preservation equipment. However, this only applies to austenitic alloys, such as grade 304, 316, or 317 stainless steel. As AZO Materials states, “Ferritic, martensitic and precipitation hardening steels should not be used at sub-zero temperatures. The toughness of these grades drops significantly at low temperatures.”
4: To Facilitate Parts Drying
When putting parts/products through any kind of aqueous or chemical-based cleaning process, they will need to be thoroughly dried before they’re ready for use. Stainless steel wire baskets are ideal for drying pharmaceutical parts in between processes.
This is because a pharmaceutical stainless steel basket is both incredibly strong and resistant to corrosion from exposure to water and other chemicals. The tensile strength of most stainless steel alloys means that wire baskets made with them can be manufactured with a few thin wires instead of needing many thicker strands. This means that the basket can have better airflow and drainage to allow parts to dry quickly—saving time and money on manufacturing processes.
Additionally, the chemical corrosion resistance of stainless steel means that it’s less likely to start rusting from brief contact with water or chemical runoff. This allows stainless steel parts/product drying baskets and trays to last longer, which helps minimize their total cost of ownership over time.
Curious about how you can use stainless steel for your pharmaceutical manufacturing processes? Reach out to the team at Marlin Steel to learn more.