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Rust on Surgical Forceps

  1. May 13, 2008 #1
    Hi, Does anyone work in the medical device industry seen rust forming on Stainless Steel Forceps? The rust I am seeing is at the V-joint of the forceps and I guess the soldering/welding metal is oxidizing- Anyone has experience what kind of soldering/welding materials are used for surgical stainless steel forceps?

  2. jcsd
  3. May 13, 2008 #2
    I don't know about the specific steel used in medical forceps, but with regards to stainless steel in general:

    The main metal added to stainless steel to make it... stainless?... is Chromium. Chromium reacts with oxygen to form a thin layer on the outside of the object, whose atoms are compact enough to "ward off" oxygen in the air. If the protective layer of Chromium Oxide is removed (which will likely happen over time at the joint of the forceps), then the steel(Iron) will oxidize because it has been exposed to oxygen in the air.
  4. May 13, 2008 #3


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    But the point of stainless is that the chromium is mixed into the steel rather than a pure coating like anodization, so a new layer of oxide will immediately form.

    I would have thought forceps would be forged from a single peice, these are the scissor type clamps ?
  5. May 13, 2008 #4
    Barfolumu and mgb_phys,

    Thanks for your response. This is not a scissor type clamp, it is a classic two arm (tongs like) design. Two arms are welded at the end. My guess was that the metal used to hold the two arms is oxidizing as these are new forceps (Never used) which eliminates the possibility of chrome layer degradation with use.

    Thanks again!!
  6. May 13, 2008 #5


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    Welding stainless is tricky - it can be done well with almost all types, but you have to know what you are doing.
    The concern would be if it allows small holes for bacteria to survive an autoclave, you could possibly sterilise it with a nitric acid path or a bunsen burner flame.
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