Have you ever wondered how scalpel blades are made? They are such tiny things but are obviously manufactured with great precision and skill.
Well, this is true and that’s why the entire manufacturing process of scalpel blades are handled almost exclusively by automated machinery.
Scalpel blades are made from either carbon steel or stainless steel. The process starts when coiled strips of extremely thin steel arrive at the factory where they will undergo several different steps in the manufacturing process.
Firstly the strips are fed into a metal press where the shape of the blade – also known as a blank – is punched into the steel strip by a specialised forming tool, called a die.
At this point the steel is still soft and bendable, which is why the next step is to temper or harden it by exposing it to a heat process in a furnace. After the temper process has been completed the blade will be hard and unbendable, but it will still retain some flexibility.
The strips are then fed through another machine where the blanks are punched out of their steel strips and stacked onto a peg so that they can be taken for surface polishing. The heat treatment dulls the steel’s metal sheen but the polishing will restore it.
After polishing the blanks are carefully inspected by a worker for defects, and then mounted on rods to be taken to a grinding machine for sharpening. The grinding machine uses a diamond-coated wheel that shapes and sharpens the cutting angle on each blank, turning it into a blade.
Because the grinding process used a magnet to handle the blanks, the new blades must be demagnetised and cleaned, before they are inspected for flaws again by the factory workers.
Finally the blades will be packaged, first with a brown paper strip that contains an anti-corrosion agent, then in individual foil packages with all the details stamped on. The foil packets will be inspected one last time before they are boxed, and then sterilized in a cobalt radiation chamber for several hours.
Once all these steps have been completed the blades are ready to be shipped to their destination.
To see exactly how scalpel blades are made, watch this super interesting video below, which shows each step in this fascinating process.