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Stainless Steel Medical ID Tags

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Significant portion of Medical ID Bracelets and ID tags are made from stainless steel. It is done so, due to exceptional properties of this material to prevent human body "rejection" or allergy, be rust free and maintain attractive shiny appearance for a long time. Stainless steel used for medical ID jewelry is also quite easy to clean and does not oxidize over time as does other types of semi-precious materials.

This material is known by now for more than one hundred years.

A little History

A few corrosion-resistant iron artifacts survive from antiquity. A famous (and very large) example is the Iron Pillar of Delhi, erected by order of Kumara-Gupta-First around the year AD 400. However, unlike stainless steel, these artifacts owe their durability not to chromium, but to their high phosphorus content, which together with favorable local weather conditions promotes the formation of a solid protective passivation layer of iron oxides and phosphates, rather than the non-protective, cracked rust layer that develops on most ironwork.

The corrosion resistance of iron-chromium alloys was first recognized in 1821 by the French metallurgist Pierre Berthier, who noted their resistance against attack by some acids and suggested their use in cutlery. However, the metallurgists of the 19th century were unable to produce the combination of low carbon and high chromium found in most modern stainless steels, and the high-chromium alloys they could produce were too brittle to be of practical interest.

This situation changed in the late 1890s, when Hans Goldschmidt of Germany developed an aluminothermic (thermite) process for producing carbon-free chromium. In the years 19041911, several researchers, particularly Leon Guillet of France, prepared alloys that would today be considered stainless steel.
In 1911, Philip Monnartz of Germany reported on the relationship between the chromium content and corrosion resistance of these alloys.
Harry Brearley of the Brown-Firth research laboratory in Sheffield, England is most commonly credited as the "inventor" of stainless steel. In 1913, while seeking an erosion-resistant alloy for gun barrels, he discovered and subsequently industrialized a martensitic stainless steel alloy. However, similar industrial developments were taking place contemporaneously at the Krupp Iron Works in Germany, where Eduard Maurer and Benno Strauss were developing an austenitic alloy (21% chromium, 7% nickel), and in the United States, where Christian Dantsizen and Frederick Becket were industrializing ferritic stainless.
Already in the year 1908 Krupp had built a famous sailing-yacht featuring a chrome-nickel steel hull, or so it seems - its wreck being currently investigated by the Bureau of Archaeological Research of the State of Florida.

Types of stainless steel

Surgical stainless steel used for Medical ID tags is a variation of steel consisting of an alloy of chromium (12-20%), molybdenum (0.2-3%), and sometimes nickel (8-12%).
The chromium gives the metal its sheen, scratch-resistance and corrosion resistance. The molybdenum gives corrosion-resistance, and helps maintaining a cutting edge.

The 'surgical' refers to the fact that these types of steel are quite well-suited for making surgical implants and equipment: they are easy to clean and sterilize, strong and corrosion-resistant, although some patients may have immune response issues with nickel.

Most surgical equipment is made out of martensitic steel - it is much harder than austenitic steel, and easier to keep sharp. Depending on the type of equipment, the alloy recipe is varied slightly to get more sharpness, or strength. Implants and equipment that are put under pressure (bone fixation screws, prostheses, body piercing jewelry), are made out of austenitic steel, often 316L and 316LVM, because it is less brittle.

In metallurgy, stainless steel (inox) is defined as a ferrous alloy with a minimum of 10.5% chromium content. The name originates from the fact that stainless steel stains, corrodes or rusts less easily than ordinary steel. In the United States and world-wide, particularly in the aviation industry, this material is also called corrosion resistant steel when it is not detailed exactly to its alloy type and grade.

Properties

Stainless steels have higher resistance to oxidation (rust) and corrosion in many natural and man made environments, however, it is important to select the correct type and grade of stainless steel for the particular application.
High oxidation resistance in air at ambient temperature is normally achieved with additions of more than 12% (by weight) chromium. The chromium forms a passivation layer of chromium(III) oxide (Cr2O3) when exposed to oxygen. The layer is too thin to be visible, meaning the metal stays shiny. It is, however, impervious to water and air, protecting the metal beneath. Also, when the surface is scratched this layer quickly reforms. This phenomenon is called passivation by materials scientists, and is seen in other metals, such as aluminum. When stainless steel parts such as nuts and bolts are forced together, the oxide layer can be scraped off causing the parts to weld together. When disassembled, the welded material may be torn and pitted, an effect that is known as galling.
Commercial value of stainless steel

As we mentioned before, stainless steel's resistance to corrosion and staining, low maintenance, and familiar luster make it an ideal base material for a medical ID bracelets.

 
 
 

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