Why Medical 3D Printing Uses Ultrasonic Cleaning
July 22, 2020
Medical 3D printing is used to produce instruments, implants and prostheses but all these products have to be completely clean before being used. This is especially true of implants and instruments that are inserted into the body during surgery. Any contamination can result in infections and ultimately failure of the implant procedure. Medical ultrasonic cleaners can help ensure that 3D printed parts for medical applications are free from contaminants.
Sources of Contamination for Medical 3D Printed Parts
When 3D printed parts are used during medical procedures, they may be contaminated from several sources, including the following:
• Traces of support material may still be present on the part surfaces.
• The part may have picked up dirt during transportation and storage.
• Pathogens may have been transferred onto the part during handling in the hospital.
During 3D printing, thin layers of metal or synthetic material are deposited to create a part. If the part has a complex shape with holes or overhangs, support material may be deposited to help the part keep its shape until it has hardened. The support material is removed when the part is finished but traces may remain.
Other dirt from the 3D printing shop, from warehouses and from delivery trucks may contaminate the part. Finally the part may pick up bacteria, viruses or other organic contamination in the hospital. Medical ultrasonic cleaners can remove contamination from all three of these sources and represents an excellent solution to cleaning medical 3D parts.
How Ultrasonic Cleaning Removes Contamination
Ultrasonic cleaning works by generating microscopic cavitation bubbles in the cleaning solution. The bubbles are produced by the ultrasonic sound waves when they pass through a liquid. The bubbles burst and direct tiny but powerful jets onto the surfaces of the parts to be cleaned. These jets dislodge dirt and contamination down to the underlying surface. Cleaning is fast and the removal of foreign matter is complete.
To ensure that dirt is removed but the original surface stays intact, the right ultrasonic frequency has to be used. Lower frequencies are suitable for hard surfaces such as stainless steel while higher frequencies deliver more gentle cleaning for soft surfaces such as plastics. When the correct frequency is used, surface contamination is removed from the part while the original surface remains unaffected.
Advantages of Using Ultrasonic Cleaning
Using ultrasonic cleaning on medical 3D printed parts delivers several advantages, including the following:
• Works quickly and cleans completely
• Cleans everywhere, including dead-end holes, inside threads and around complex shapes
• Can sanitize parts when used with a disinfectant
• Does not damage delicate parts when used with the right frequency
Because the cavitation bubbles appear wherever the cleaning solution is present, ultrasonic systems can clean in difficult-to-reach places and along grooved or ridged surfaces. This feature, combined with excellent cleaning performance and fast operation make ultrasonic cleaning systems ideally suited for medical applications.
Ultrasonic Cleaning Benefits
The benefits of using medical ultrasonic cleaners for cleaning 3D printed parts and other medical devices include savings in time, reduced costs and improved patient outcomes. Compared to other more traditional cleaning methods such as soaking and scrubbing, ultrasonic cleaning is faster. Because ultrasonic cleaning uses only water and possibly a disinfectant or mild detergent, operating costs are low.
When parts are clean and impurities are completely removed from cracks, crevices and holes, patients are less likely to develop an infection and medical procedures have a higher success rate. Getting the ultrasonic cleaners from a reputable supplier ensures that the system will have the proper configuration and frequencies needed and satisfy the requirements of the medical application.
Kaijo offers free consultation for ultrasonic cleaning applications and the company has the experience and expertise to design and build systems for cleaning medical devices. Kaijo’s ultrasonic cleaners are of the highest quality and can deliver the expected benefits.