After fabrication, either by machining or by direct compression molding, ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) components for total joint replacement are packaged and sterilized prior to external distribution to the clinic. Unlike polymerization and resin conversion, which are typically under the direct control of specialized vendors, the choice of packaging and sterilization method falls within the purview of the implant designer. Although the implant designer is responsible for selecting the packaging and sterilization methods for a particular type of orthopedic component, the actual packaging and sterilization processes themselves may be amenable to outsourcing. For instance, gas plasma sterilizers are commercially distributed as stand-alone units and can be incorporated directly into a manufacturer's facility (e.g., STERRAD System: Advanced Sterilization Products, Irvine, CA), whereas gamma and ethylene oxide sterilization requires specialized facilities and is typically performed by an outside vendor (e.g., Isomedix Services, Steris Corporation, Mentor, OH; Sterigenics, Deerfield, IL).
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