Why Is Stainless Steel Widely Used In The Pharmaceutical Industry?

Starting from the small zipper to huge industries such as chemicals, civil plants, food and beverages – in each industry stainless steel has been playing a major role since 1913 when it was named ‘rustless steel’ by Harry Brearley because of its corrosion and rust resistance.

Time by time, stainless steel became a quickly adaptive material to use in numerous industries and even after that kitchenary industry took a quiet time to favour it in use as both better and bitter results were getting expected, at last in the 1940s and 50s this situation took its turning point and stainless steel get in use for the first time. 

After that pharmaceutical industry was the second most cautionable sector, but as this sector started utilising it with its high durability, easy sanitization, and high-temperature tolerance stainless steel left no option for the pharmaceutical sector to take a back switch to steel.

Today, the stainless steel market is globally sized at the value of USD $111.44 billion in 2022 with expected growth of 7.4% CAGR from 2023 to 2030.

However, in the pharmaceutical industry – there are multiple stainless steel uses such as tanks, pipe works, hypodermic needles, orthopaedic implants,  pressure vessels, and many others. Just like these objects get used in different parts of the pharma field, the grade of stainless steel also varies as per the industrial and product requirements.

Let’s look into more on this, and get to know how stainless steel is covering each pharmaceutical industry’s requirements.

Role of Stainless Steel in the Pharmaceutical Industry

The pharmaceutical industry is where medicine-related discoveries take place, then get in beneath development, and fall out of the medicines manufacturing on mass production after which it becomes available to the market for patients.

In each of these mentioned procedures, there are multiple tests under which this medication goes and to sustain the same quality to get served in the market the specific environmental and corrosion resistance, with in built durability of high temperatures, and consistent cleanliness is necessary.

And that’s what exactly stainless steel offers with different grades of stainless steel that include: 304, 309, 316, and 318, Let’s see how each of them benefits the pharmaceutical industry

Most Common Stainless Steel Grades Used in Pharmaceutical Industry

Grade 304 Stainless Steel for the Pharmaceutical Industry:

Because of its high durability and high composition of chromium, 304 SS grade is the most widely used grade in the pharmaceutical industry. Due to its high strength and corrosion-resistant stainless steel series, 304 handles corrosive liquids very effectively.

With such quality and easy sterilisation procedures, SS 304 is mostly used in the making of tanks, pipe works, and storage vessels of corrosive liquids in pharmaceuticals. 

Hypodermic Needles – one of the most important products of the pharmaceutical industry is also made with 304 stainless steel grade only.

Grade 309 Stainless Steel for the Pharmaceutical Industry:

The 309 stainless steel grade is mostly known for its high heat-resistant properties that also include high yield strength,  tensile strength, and creep strength up to 1200 °F. 

SS 309 temperature resistance is even higher than 304 which is its use is mostly found in pharmaceutical areas where corrosion resistance is required and medic equipment dealing with human tissues or fluids.

The composition of SS 309 includes 12% nickel, 22% chromium, and 2% molybdenum giving it excellent formability and weldability which can be also helpful in machinery parts and processing equipment.

Grade 316 Stainless Steel for the Pharmaceutical Industry:

Globally known for its superior corrosion resistance to chlorides and acids – SS 316 is the second most austenitic stainless steel with the addition of 2% molybdenum making it greatly resistant to chloride ions too.

SS 316 is specifically used to make pharmaceutical products that stay in direct contact with fluids such as system tanks, pipelines, or bulk transportation of chemicals/corrosive liquids.

Its increased resistances also help in keeping the cleaning procedure easier by enabling the use of stronger cleansers and detergents without any worries of damage or appearance changes.

Grade 318 Stainless Steel for the Pharmaceutical Industry:

SS 318 is also an austenitic based on stainless steel but with a base of nickel which gives it an affix of ‘austenitic nickel-based stainless steel alloy’. With its higher Molybdenum level, 18% chromium, and 10% of nickel its corrosion resistance is superior among all other austenitic stainless steel.

The 318 stainless steel grade also offers a wide range of working temperatures from 1600°F and steady service quality to 1700°F with exceptional resistance to oxidation.

As SS 318 workability offers continuous service to high temperatures without deforming or melting, in the pharmaceutical industry it is mostly used in pumps, pipelines, reaction vessels, storage tanks/vessels, tubes, heat exchangers, taps, scrubber units, and valves.

Characteristics of Stainless Steel in Pharmaceutical Industry

Corrosion Resistant

Which is one of the most important factors to consider in the pharmaceutical industry, the quality of chromium in each stainless steel grade makes it resistant to various temperatures, chemicals, and fluids. 

Higher Temperature Resistance

With 304 and 316, stainless steel grade 304L and 316L is also used where degradation resistance is required – its low carbon grade of stainless steel aids in the prevention of the carbide precipitation effect occurring in high temperatures.

Easy to Clean

As stainless steel is smooth in physical appearance, its cleaning process becomes very easy for the pharmaceutical sector benefiting them in the removal of microorganisms without any specific chemical or solvent.

Let’s Wrap Up!

Starting from a quick overview of stainless steel history, we covered how multiple industries and the crucial pharmaceutical industry have adapted stainless steel over the years. 

By benefitting the pharmaceutical industry with its corrosion and acid resistance, and high durability among various temperatures we saw why and which stainless steel grade is most beneficial in particular areas of pharmaceutical giving it closing with quick notes of stainless steel characteristics.

If you still have some doubts about your mind or want to inquire about stainless steel products such as stainless steel precision bars, stainless steel bright bars, and stainless steel wires, Vishwa Stainless Steel Pvt. Ltd. will be glad to assist you.

We are basically a leading stainless steel bars manufacturer in India offering tailored solutions as per the industry requirements across the global market with quality deliverables. To get in touch visit us at www.vishwastainless.com

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