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Electropolishing Benefits for Pharmaceutical Equipment and Processing Systems

Adam Fabriwerk
Sep 10, 2020
Boroscopy Piping

Surface Finish is incredibly important for high purity systems in pharmaceutical equipment since hygiene is of utmost importance when processing and manufacturing pharmaceutical products. The surface of metal parts in Pharmaceutical equipment, including tanks, vessels, valves, pumps and other accessories needs to be perfectly smooth, free of anomalies and other contaminants left behind by mechanical polishing. Electropolishing is one of the most popular finishes for pharmaceutical applications and provides several crucial benefits.

In electropolishing, the metal object to be electropolished is immersed in an electrolyte, and subjected to an electrical current, that strips the top layer of the metal, removes impurities and contaminants, and smooths surface roughness, nicks, bumps leaving a fresh clear layer at the surface. As the metal parts are totally submersed in the bath during electropolishing, it can reach all surfaces, and hard to reach spots on the equipment.

Benefits of Electropolishing in the Pharmaceutical Industry

Enhanced Appearance

Electropolishing leaves a bright, reflective finish which will not crack or peel. The surface has a uniform lustre and is aesthetically pleasing. It can improve surface roughness by up to 50% by levelling micro-peaks and valleys, on the metal's surface.

Ease of Cleaning and De-Contamination

Electropolishing removes tiny burrs that can trap contaminants and allow product adhesion, making the smooth surface of an electropolished metal easy to clean and sterilize. It eliminates the build-up of bacteria, and prevents catalytic reactions of surfaces, so equipment can be cleaned and sterilized with less time and air/water pressure. Electropolished surfaces do not allow product to stick to it, and keeps it moving smoothly though the processing system.

Greater Protection from Corrosion

The electropolishing process removes the outermost surface layer of stainless steel, eliminating deeply embedded contamination. It can also draw out other contaminants in metal such as iron, carbon, oxidation from welding and other surface contaminants that can create corrosion and rust. The smooth, ultra-clean surface of an electropolished metal, also reduces product adhesion and improves corrosion resistance.

Improved Structural Integrity, and Enhanced Mechanical Properties

Tiny anomalies in metal surface can affect the fit and function of a component and lead to premature failure in the machinery. Electropolished surfaces are microscopically smooth and reduce friction of parts in pharmaceutical machinery. By removing the surface layer of metal, electropolishing can also improve structural integrity of parts that can be weakened by surface cracks, nicks, scratches and fabrication stresses during the manufacturing process. This increases the life cycle of the equipment leading to reduced downtime and lower costs.

Adam Fabriwerk processing and storage tanks, vessels, storage, batch mixers, filters, piping and other pharmaceutical and bio-pharmaceutical equipment parts are electropolished as per ASME BPE specifications. The standards incorporate best-practices for enhancing product purity and safety and maintain high levels of hygienic requirements of the materials used. Compliance with these standards is critical in the pharmaceutical industry to ensure the products produced are safe, hygienic, and of a high quality.