Original Research Article|Articles in Press

Rapid cold sterilization of 3D printed surgical instruments for the austere environment


      • 3D printing of medical devices and surgical tools is increasing.
      • Reliable sterilization methods for these devices must be developed.
      • This project successfully developed a reliable and rapid high-level disinfection process for 3D printed surgical tools for the austere environment.
      • Results showed no growth on subsequent cultures following bacterial contamination.



      Medical operations are vulnerable to global supply chain fluctuations. The ability to locally produce and reliably sterilize medical equipment may mitigate this risk. This project developed a reliable high-level disinfection process for 3D printed surgical tools.


      Surgical instruments and consumables were designed and printed from various materials. Devices contaminated with known and unknown bacteria underwent one of three cleaning methods followed by high-level disinfection using submersion in a Cidex OPA Solution. Devices were then cultured on blood agar plates and incubated for 48 h. Positive and negative controls were performed.


      The results of control experiments showed no growth on negative controls and significant growth on all positive control plates. Of the three cleaning methods tested, one showed no growth: cleaning with isopropyl alcohol and chlorhexidine followed by Cidex bath.


      This project successfully developed a rapid high-level disinfection process for 3D printed surgical instruments made from two different types of 3D printing material.


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