An Investigation into Scalpel Blade Sharpness Using Cutting Experiments and Finite Element Analysis
This paper presents an investigation into the sharpness of a surgical scalpel blade. An experiment was carried out in which a surgical scalpel blade was pushed through an elastomeric substrate at a constant velocity. The force-displacement characteristics were examined by plotting the stiffness as a function of blade displacement and it was found that this curve could clearly identify the point where the material separates to form a cut. A blade sharpness measurement was defined as the energy required to initiate an opening or cut in the substrate. A finite element model was developed to examine the stress state in the substrate at the point where the opening initiates. The development of this model is described. The model was validated against the experiment and close agreement was obtained. The von-Mises stress distribution under the blade tip was plotted and it was shown that the peak stress actually occurs away from the blade tip, suggesting that material separation would initiate away from the substrate surface.
W.M. Ostachowicz, J.M. Dulieu-Barton, K.M. Holford, M. Krawczuk and A. Zak
C.T. McCarthy et al., "An Investigation into Scalpel Blade Sharpness Using Cutting Experiments and Finite Element Analysis ", Key Engineering Materials, Vols. 293-294, pp. 769-776, 2005