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The materials the stethoscopes are made of evolved. From the cylinder of rolled paper first used by Dr. Laennec in 1816, then followed by a hollow piece of wood, up to brass, stainless steel, plastic, and now Titanium, stethoscopes materials changed dramatically over the years.
Each material offers specific acoustic, convenience, and weight benefits.
Last update on 2022-10-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
What are the benefits of Titanium for stethoscopes?
Titanium is one of the latest cravings for building lightweight and somehow very reliable and robust devices.
This metal is corrosion-resistant, very strong, and light. Therefore, it constitutes an excellent choice for engineering applications since Titanium is long-lasting and reliable. In addition, it is 40 percent lighter than steel, yet it is just as robust as high-strength steel in terms of strength.
More than just being light, Titanium is also very good at transmitting sound, which makes it a metal of choice for building stethoscopes.
The MDF or MD1 Titanium Stethoscope Series is the perfect example of the benefits premium grade titanium usually used in the aerospace industry can offer healthcare practitioners.
Titanium is resistant to cracks, corrosion, humidity, and sweat for the years to come making it perfect when building high-end stethoscopes.
What are the drawbacks of Titanium for stethoscopes?
With so many benefits, one can wonder why all stethoscopes are built out of Titanium.
One of the reasons to choose a heavier material such as stainless steel is that a heavier and larger chest piece will transmit sound better than a larger one. Don’t get me wrong, modern diaphragms are technological wonders, and the difference will be barely noticeable.
Somehow, when it comes to transmitting sound waves, the material’s elasticity or “springiness” comes into play: less elastic materials such as paper are more likely to absorb sound rather than transfer it. As a result, diamonds, the hardest substance on earth, are the best materials for transmitting sound waves at a speed of 12,000 m/sec.
Titanium is a good compromise, but this substance is somehow more expensive than stainless steel, even if it doesn’t cost as much as diamonds. This is the second drawback of Titanium stethoscopes. They are more expensive than regular stainless steel ones.
Stainless Steel vs. Titanium: the $1 burger paradox
When buying a stethoscope or a sandwich, everything is a compromise between price, quality, and benefits. A $1 burger may feed you, but the experience will most definitely be as enjoyable as eating a gourmet burger.
It comes the same way for Titanium vs. stainless steel stethoscopes. A titanium device will be robust, light, and with excellent acoustic qualities. Yet, it will somehow come at a higher price point than a regular stainless one.
Do you consider your stethoscope an essential part of your practice, and do you want to enjoy the benefits of a premium device? Or, is your stethoscope just an instrument among others you use to establish diagnostics.
Answering these questions will guide you in choosing the material you need, even if you know that dividing the weight of your stethoscope by two will be best for your neck at the end of the day or for keeping your white coat pockets intact.