Stryker recently shut down all their cast saw support here in the USA leaving everyone to scramble for accessories and support. We contacted Stryker to find out if we could still get cast saw blades for our customers. Since Stryker products are sold globally, they provided us with 2 sources that still produce blades for Stryker and got them to ship to the USA. They are still Stryker blades and sold under the Stryker logo globally. Some blades such as the 940-23 Ion Nitride blade can no longer be sourced. Many are noticing the difference in the blade’s length of use. Some blades are not lasting like they used to. Covid is the issue. Post-Covid created many shortages in certain types of metals. So, some formulas had to be adjusted in order to even have a supply of cast saw blades. Eventually, things will go back to normal when the shortages are corrected. We still believe that Stryker will no longer produce blades at some point in time. So, we are working on getting the blade composition of the original Stryker formulas and making our own blades so that we can still support the many Stryker products on the market. We hope to introduce new blades very soon.
Types of coatings often seen on cast saws blades. In order of strength. # 1 being the strongest blade coating.
#1 Dichronite blade (coated)
Another very effective blade coating is Tungsten Disulfide, or “Dichronite”. It is dry film lubrication applied to stainless steel blades under high air pressure. The steel blade “accepts” the coating as it bonds exceedingly well, causing a very lubricious surface when the treatment is complete. Other extremely hard compounds and elements such as Boron have also been used in this manner with much success. These types of coatings afford users lower cost performance attributes such as extended blade life and cooler cutting temperatures.
#2 Ion Nitriding (coated)
Currently, the most effective process available for maximizing cast saw blade life is Ion Nitriding. This “high-tech” process, also known as “plasma coating”, uses electron bombardment of nitrogen ions to form an incredibly strong, yet smooth surface to a base steel cutter blade. The process takes place in a vacuum vessel under a very high voltage charged environment. The effect on the blade surface is a hardness factor nearly that of diamonds; and a very smooth surface that has very little drag coefficient.
#3 Titanium Nitrided blade (coated)
Titanium nitride is a gold “ceramic” coating that is applied to a stainless steel base blade. Once applied, the blade surface becomes exponentially harder, and the drag coefficient is dramatically lessened. This results in much cooler surface temperatures during actual cutting, and longer saw tooth sharpness. Titanium coating adds a thin layer that protects the teeth, maintaining their effectiveness for a longer timeframe.
#4 PTFE (Teflon coated)
Teflon is a very lubricious, slippery coating which is applied to the stainless-steel blade. The process is much like spray painting and takes place at room temperatures. When dry, and cured, the Teflon provides a non-stick, low drag coefficient surface that slides smoothly through casting materials. The drawbacks are that Teflon tends to wear off not long after first use. So, despite the low friction surface, the material often fails to stay permanently bonded, so some degradation is seen. Despite this small downside, PTFE-coated blades remain quite popular.
#5 Stainless Steel (not coated)
Stainless Steel blades are not coated. They are, however, made of high carbon stainless alloy, which is “tempered” using a high-temperature hardening process that makes the steel much harder; therefore makes its teeth last longer during the cutting process. As the blade is used, the teeth gradually lose their sharpness over time. This results in a longer cutting time, and heat due to increased friction will be the result. A dull blade will produce so much heat that it may be felt by the patient even through the cast padding. A normal general orthopedic practice that removes 10 casts per week can expect a single stainless steel blade to last a month or two before needing to be changed.