[Histonet] Cost Containment - Blades question

Robert Schoonhoven rschoon <@t> email.unc.edu
Tue Dec 23 07:33:24 CST 2003


Having used both as when I started in Histology there were no disposable 
blades until the first one came out (Phil Picket's design), and having 
worked on the design and manufacture of  a certain companies' blade when 
I worked in the corporate world my answers are as follows:

1- Have any of you used steel blades for paraffin sectioning instead of 
disposable blades?
   - Yes,  but see #2 below

2 - Is this practical - meaning how many blocks is one blade able to 
section before being sharpened, and what is the minimum cost involved in 
the sharpening process?
  - Of course it is practical,  they were used for decades prior to the 
advent of disposable blades.  The number of blocks and slides that were 
able to be cut from either type of blade is dependent on the type of 
tissue, staples, and the technician.  Quality should always come before 
quantity.  As for cost the following figures come from memory of about 
20 years ago when I ran a large hospital histology lab in MI.   A 
minimum of 3 knives per tech at $250.00 (1 was always being sharpened). 
 Autosharp IV or V knife sharpener at 4-5 K each, I had 3 in my lab. 
 You could buy cheaper but you get what you pay for.   Supplies for the 
sharpeners such as extra plates and  dressing compound runs into the 
hundreds of dollars.  Also the knives after time would still have to be 
sent out for reconditioning at about $100.00 a pop. Now the reason for 
the preceding is that I had a lab with 8 techs and 2-3 students and a 
large variance in  hand sharpening skills.  A good hand sharpened blade 
requires skill and time but comparatively little equipment cost.  For 
all of the preceding there is a fair amount of tech time involved, now 
days better used for other things.

3 - Is there any way to sharpen disposable blades?
   - Let's not be ridiculous, there is a reason for the word "disposable".

4 - What is the average amount of blocks a technician is able to 
cut/blade - both using disposable and steel?
   - see #2 above

5 -  The best disposable blade is the one that produces the best 
sections for YOU.  You'll be able to find techs that will swear by any 
manufacturers' blade and they will all be right because that "blade " 
works for them.

Robert Schoonhoven,

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