Virtually all surgical instruments are made of either Stainless Steel, Titanium and in some cases, Cobalt Chrome. These metals all have their unique characteristics that make them ideal for different types of instruments. Stainless Steel is very rigid, while Titanium is very light and non-ferromagnetic.
Within both of these metals there are certain grades that each manufacturer uses when developing instruments. Stainless Steel typically comes in form(s) 304, 316, 420 or 430. Surgical Grade Titanium is most times Ti-6Al-4V.
Titanium which can be anodized to a variety of colors though an electrolytic process that manipulates the oxide layer by electric current. If done correctly, the coloration is permanent and will last throughout the life of the instruments. Titanium instruments are very light and are ideal for dissecting, grasping and manipulating instruments.
Stainless steel instruments are a harder metal, and which makes it more ideal for cutting and manual manipulation. Since it is a very shiny metal, techniques have been applied to matte the finish and even coat it to prevent reflection. There are two known finishes, powder and ceramic coating.
Powder coating provides an antimicrobial layer that is first added to the substrates pre-treated surface, and then melted and dried into a protective and/or decorative coating. The thick new coat will eventually fade with repeated wash and sterilization cycles.
Ceramic coating is applied to stainless steel via a physical vapor deposition (PVD) process by applying a thin layer of titanium aluminum nitrate (TiAlN). In the PVD process, a high purity target made up of Titanium and aluminum is magnetron-sputtered onto the substrate in a vacuum chamber. The metal particles of the target are then transformed into a vapor to interact with nitrogen ions to coat the instrument with a few microns of protective layer. The new instrument is now eight to ten times harder than stainless steel alone, cleans much easier because of the hydrophobic properties and reduces glare from the instrument. In many circles, this is considered the gold standard in instrument coating.
All ACE Medical, Wiggins Medical and Ebner Medical Kerrison’s, pituitary rongeur’s and scissors have the proprietary ceramic coating. This coating is warrantied for life and will never chip, fade or peel.