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What Materials Are Used To Make Medical Trays?

What Materials Are Used To Make Medical Trays?

Medical trays play a critical role in the healthcare industry, serving as an essential tool for organizing, sterilizing, and handling medical instruments and implants. These trays must meet the rigorous standards of surgical environments, ensuring they are durable, hygienic, and capable of withstanding repeated sterilization processes. 

Let’s look at what materials are used to make medical trays and how they contribute to the efficiency and safety of medical procedures.


Aluminum, renowned for its lightweight and corrosion-resistant properties, dominates the medical tray market, comprising over 80 percent of the case and tray market. You can attribute this prevalence to aluminum’s exceptional durability and its ability to undergo rigorous sterilization methods without degrading. Its light weight makes it easy for healthcare providers to handle and transport. At the same time, aluminum must have an anodized surface treatment to seal the surface from interacting with cleansers. This surface treatment can be marred, and colors and artwork will wear out over time.


Plastic trays, such as polypropylene and Radel, are also commonly used in the production of medical trays. These materials have unique properties that make them suitable for specific applications in healthcare settings.

Polypropylene is known for its durability and resistance to heat and chemicals, making it a popular choice for sterilization processes. It is often used in surgical trays, biohazard containers, and medication dispensers. Polypropylene accepts laser marking well to provide lasting product identification. Polypropylene can be machined into a variety of configurations and is one of the best ways to hold small instruments and implants. Revision changes are fast and easy, making polypropylene ideal for prototyping and short-run manufacturing of reusable surgical trays.

Radel is another popular plastic used to make medical trays due to its high strength-to-weight ratio and resistance to chemicals and impact. These characteristics make it suitable for carrying and organizing heavy instruments and supplies without compromising safety or durability. Radel is used to make transparent covers for polypropylene caddies. It accepts screen printing and laser marking to provide a variety of design options. Once again, revisions are simplified, making Radel ideal for prototyping and short-run manufacturing of reusable surgical trays.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel makes up a small part of the medical tray market. Only select grades of stainless steel can be used in manufacturing for sterilization, and even those must undergo the process of passivation to remove any iron from the surface of the material. It is typically used for special applications in surgical trays or instrument cases. Its strength and durability are well-suited for heavy-duty applications, making it ideal for custom brackets and hardware.

Stainless steel offers the highest strength and is highly resistant to corrosion. However, it adds the most weight, which limits its application.

Medical trays may contain a variety of materials, each selected for its unique properties that align with the demands and standards of the healthcare industry. Aluminum, with its light weight, durability, and corrosion resistance, stands out as the predominant material, offering unparalleled benefits for everyday medical use. Plastics, including polypropylene and Radel, are valued for their strength, chemical resistance, and suitability for sterilization, providing versatile options for different medical applications. Stainless steel offers robust solutions for heavy-duty uses thanks to its enduring strength and hygienic properties. Together, these materials ensure medical trays can meet the critical requirements of safety, efficiency, and reliability, which are essential for supporting complex workflows and sanitation standards in surgical settings.

If you are looking for medical procedure trays, Legacy Medical Solutions has a wide range of tray options made from high-quality materials to meet your specific needs. Contact us today for more information.

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