Preferred Cleaning Methods in the Medical Industry

DuPont™ Vertrel® specialty fluids featured in MicroCare Medical™ products provide the ultimate in vapor degreasing performance with exceptional versatility as precision cleaning solvents, drying agents, and carrier fluids.

Vapor degreasing has long been the preferred method for their highly effective cleaning performance and simple design. In orthopedic surgery, where strict level of sterility and cleanliness is required to ensure products safety and performance in patient care, this effective cleaning is essential.

Low viscosity and surface tension rating of solvents, combined with their volatility enable them to clean unique surfaces and cosmetic matter very effectively. This makes the vapor degreasing process suitable for almost any part geometry and easy to validate. Medical devices designers will not be limited in their products designs knowing that all surfaces of the finished product, regardless of geometry, will be effectively cleaned for the safety of the patient.

A clean part is essential when it comes to the final step in the manufacturing process, optimal coating or packaging of the product. A lubricious coating is applied to the manufactured device component to address the challenge of stacked tolerances in mechanical assemblies, and reduce friction and the forces needed to actuate certain devices. If there is residue left on the part after cleaning, this coating will not adhere properly, and operating issues can arise once the device reaches its end-user.

Once the device is ready for packaging it is vital the parts are dried to avoid the growth of bacteria. When devices are packaged with residual moisture bioburden microbes can form that contaminate the product. However solvent-based systems, such as those in vapor degreasers, are hostile to the growth of bacteria. Parts exiting the vapor degreaser come out immediately dry and ready for packaging, further deterring from the formation of bioburden.

Vapor degreasing allows for a simple process that is more effective in removing contaminants than aqueous systems, and now has become a more environmentally friendly option as well. Previously water based systems were turned to as the more environmentally friendly and lower cost option. However recent advances in machine and solvent technology have lead to more environmentally friendly and low cost options for vapor degreasing.

Today solvents such as those found in vapor degreasing, meet very strict Environmental Protection Agency standards and have disposable requirement comparable to aqueous systems.

Solvent-based systems require less energy to operate cleaning systems, and therefore have less impact on the environment. Aqueous systems usually pretreat their water to be viable for use as cleaning agent and then treat it again prior to disposal, adding to the expense. Solvent-based solution do not need to be held at such high temperatures as aqueous systems for effective drying and cleaning, therefore requires less energy. Parts coming out of vapor degreasing systems exit completely dry and ready to use, while aqueous systems use additional energy to dry their parts. Last, solvent-based systems can also be a money saver on utility bills and leasing space compared to aqueous systems. Aqueous systems operate horizontally and contain more moving parts than vapor degreasing systems, leading to more complex machines and systems that requiring more floor space and more energy.