Is stainless steel the bioprocessing technology of the past?

Inline forged

Single-use technology has been touted as the latest and most promising development in bioprocessing technology, fast replacing stainless steel as the material of choice for many bioprocessing engineers. But how true is this? Could we be losing out by shifting away from stainless steel? Marc Pelletier, Director of CRB, and Mark Embury from ASEPCO, part of Watson Marlow Fluid Technology Group (WMFTG) which has recently launched the ASPECO inline valve, discuss whether stainless steel is a technology of the past in a new article, published today.

Single-use technologies have their advantages, especially when it comes to avoiding contamination, as they eliminate the need for cleaning. This is particularly important when it comes to satisfying regulatory requirements, an essential consideration for biopharmaceutical processing engineers. Up-front costs are also significantly lower than stainless steel components, leading to lower redesign process costs. In Western Europe, over half of bioprocessing experts surveyed said they expect to see a fully single use facility in operation within five years and the single-use bioprocessing market in Europe is predicted to be worth USD 2.09 billion by 2024.

Single-use does not come without its own challenges, however. Whilst upfront costs are lower, ongoing supply of components can generate significant expenses. In the same survey, the top reasons for not using consumables in the US included cost as well as the limited scalability of single-use systems and the investment that has already been made in current equipment. These industry concerns also meet the growing external pressures regarding the environmental impact of single-use products.

Could a reliance on one system limit the potential for development in bioprocessing? In this article, Marc Pelletier and Mark Embury share their combined experience working in bioprocessing to discuss the advantages and limitations of both stainless steel and single-use technologies. Download the article for the latest insights from our industry experts.

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