Medical device hard wire cutters. What gives them their edge?
Choosing the wrong cutter can be like trying to cut cement with a knife. If the cutters aren’t harder than what they’re cutting, they can be damaged or chipped. Furthermore, the cutters need to hold up to cleaning and harsh environments such as the sterilization process used in autoclaves. Any way you slice it, buying the right pair is critical when cutting the extremely hard materials often used in the medical device manufacturing of catheters, stents, pacemakers and more.
The bulk of hard wire cutters are made with steel carbide and manufacturers generally spend hours researching and developing special, proprietary heat-treating processes. These complex methods determine the hardness of the cutter edges as measured by the Rockwell Hardness (HRC) scale, based on ability to indent the material. Cutters are then extensively tested for durability and capability.
Steel with a higher HRC number will have higher edge retention but will be less tough. Steel with a lower rating will have less edge retention but increased durability. Generally, less edge retention will require more blade reconditioning, as most cutters can be sharpened. Although harder steel may hold an edge longer, it can also be more brittle. Some alloys can actually become too hard and can shatter.
What gives these brands their competitive edge?
Each cutter manufacturer comes to the table with individual specialties, whether it be a proprietary hardening process, unique handles or springs, joint style, cost, number of cuts, sharpening (# of times), resistance to corrosion (autoclave environments) or edge sharpness.
More information on select hard wire, medical device cutters
- Cut life - different beveling on the cutter edges and use determines cut life. Semi-flush cutters usually have the longest life.
- Cut style - cuts fall into three basic groups
- Semi-flush - bevels form a v-shaped groove along the length of the cutting edges when closed
- Flush - bevels produce an extremely small v-shaped groove along cutting edge
- Full-flush - bevels create cuts with next to no raised surface on the wire
- Cut capacity - maximum hard wire cut, e.g. 00.004", 00.020", 0.023" to 0.031"
- Head style - oval, tapered, oblique angled, tapered relieved