Should You Be Using Stainless Steel Tools?

by Andy on August 27, 2009

Stainless Steel Pliers

Earlier this week, a bunch of us met with a representative from Aven who was singing the praises of stainless steel tools. I was curious so he sent me an informative white paper on benefits of stainless steel tools (.pdf) and the downfall of carbon steel tools. Here is the entire white paper on stainless steel tools (.pdf); below are the basics.

Using carbon steel to manufacture tools has several benefits including being really hard and less expensive than stainless steel but carbon steel is also knows for being corrosive. The iron oxide (rust) is a major source of contamination in cleanroom environments.  Also, tools used in cleanroom environments are regularly run through an autoclave to sterilize the tool but the plating on the carbon steel will flake off and those particles are also a source of contamination.

Stainless steel is a homogeneous material in which no plating will flake off. The flaking could compromise sterilization efforts, and this is why stainless steel has become the standard for the pharmaceutical, electronic, biotechnology and food processing industries.

Biggest benefits of stainless steel tools:

  • Tools made out of other metals can contaminate sterile environments with iron particles
  • Carbon steel tools degrade and release chrome flakes after repeated autoclaving
  • Stainless steel tools offer long-term cost savings and cleanliness
  • The corrosion-resistant layer of chromium oxide on stainless steel tools repairs itself

Choose your tools based on the job. A tool made of the hardest metal doesn’t mean it’s the best tool for every task and if you’re not worried about sterility then you probably don’t need to spend the money on stainless steel tools.

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