Why Use Medical Wire Forms with a Nylon Coating?

January 9, 2018 | Custom Wire Baskets, Wire Forms, Medical/Pharmaceutical

Medical trays with fine wire mesh are difficult to coat; unless you use a fine powder coat like nylon with an electrostatic fluidized bed process.In any medical use case, there are a few concerns that remain paramount for a custom wire basket or tray:

  • Sterility. The surface of any equipment used in the medical industry needs to be as free of contaminants as possible to minimize the risk of infections from contaminated equipment.

  • Ease of Cleaning. While many items in the medical industry are disposable, reusable tools need to be easy to clean and sterilize for future use. So, surfaces need to be smooth and non-absorbent to prevent contamination.

  • Resistance to Corrosion. In many medical applications, equipment may be exposed to sodium-rich chemicals and other corrosives—such as saline solution, bodily fluids, or certain disinfectants.

That last bullet point is the one that most people forget about. Many baskets and trays are made to be easy to sterilize, but it’s all too common for them to start to develop rust after their first use because the right materials weren’t used. Some manufacturers may specify that they use “stainless steel” without quantifying which grade of stainless they’re using—this is important because different grades of steel have different levels of resistance to corrosion from exposure to specific chemicals.

However, there’s another way to enhance the corrosion resistance of a steel wire form for medical industry applications: using a specialized coating on the wire form to protect it from direct exposure to chemicals. Nylon powder coatings are particularly popular for this application.

Why can a nylon coating be a good idea for a medical wire tray or basket? A few reasons include:

1: Prolonging Basket Useful Life for a Minimal Cost

Over time, a wire form will be exposed to numerous chemicals that can strip even the most robust coatings. However, using a nylon powder coat can keep harsh chemicals from ever reaching the surface of the wires underneath. This helps to massively prolong the useful life of the basket or tray.

And, when the coating begins to wear through, it can be stripped and reapplied for a fraction of the cost of buying a whole new wire form.

2: Abrasion Resistance

Under a Taber Abrader test of 1,000 cycles under a 1kg load, a nylon coating will only lose between 10 and 18 milligrams of material. Also, nylon powder coats have a surface hardness of 70-80 Shore D on the durometer scale—meaning that it’s about as hard as a PVC pipe.

Because of this hardness and abrasion resistance, nylon coatings aren’t very susceptible to being worn away quickly from everyday use, even when working with sharp medical tools that might pierce or scrape away softer materials.

3: Good Corrosion Resistance

Nylon powder coats typically have good corrosion resistance for both interior and exterior applications. While nylon coatings have a negative reaction to methanol, but outside of this, a nylon coating can be extraordinarily durable and long-lasting. In fact, when tested for salt spray resistance, a nylon powder coat has been shown to last for more than 1,000 hours of exposure.

This further helps improve the longevity of the powder coat to minimize the total cost of ownership for the coated wire form over time.

4: Thin Coating is Easy to Apply to Fine Wire Mesh Without Webbing

One of the major challenges in applying a coating to wire forms that use a fine wire mesh is that thicker, heavier coatings tend to “web” up in the tiny gaps between wires. Nylon power coatings can be applied via the electrostatic fluidized bed process, wherein a wire form is passed through a fluid bed cold and a fine, even layer of the powder coat settles on the wires.

This process can be used to make a coating that is between 10 and 18 mils (0.01” and 0.018”) thick. A standard piece of A4 paper is, as noted by Science Alert, “0.05 mm” thick—or 0.0019” thick. This makes a nylon coating between 5 and 9 times thicker than a piece of paper.

The sheer thinness of a nylon powder coat means it can work very well with fine wire mesh medical trays and baskets.

If a thicker coating is required, the hot flocking process can achieve a heavier coating.

Do you need a durable, reliable custom wire form for a medical industry application? Marlin Steel has the experience and the tools to create the perfect wire form for most medical applications. Get started by contacting us for a wire form quote today!