There are several options when deciding the best microtome blades for your process. Disposable microtome blades come in different sizes and materials – each designed to slice through various types of material. Your selection relies heavily on the type of microtome equipment you use. To understand more about the specifications of each type of microtome blade, here is a comprehensive guide to the seven most common types of blades used.
1. Rotary microtome blade
Rotary microtomes require a slightly heavier knife, usually measuring between 0.5 to 60 µm. These systems are great for cutting semi-thin to thin sections for light microscopy. They are designed with a hand-wheel operated blade, with the option to modify the angle of the knife to cut larger blocks of tissue as needed.
2. Sledge microtome blade
Sledge microtome blades are significantly larger, measuring around 24cm in length with a wedge shape to minimize vibration. This makes these blades ideal for cutting larger blocks of tissue compared to other machines. A sledge microtome works by setting the tissue block on a steel carriage, which then slides back and forth over a fixed blade. Sledge microtome blades are perfect in applications like segmenting of an entire brain or other large organ tissues.
3. Vibrating microtome blade
A common tool of histochemistry, vibrating microtomes were developed to section fresh plant or animal materials for studying. It operates with a high-speed vibration, aiding in the cutting of soft materials immersed in fluid. This process requires disposable, double-edged razor blades; however, some specialized knives are available.
4. Ultramicrotome blade
Ultramicrotome blades are known for their ability to cut incredibly thin sections. This is perfect for both light and electron microscopy. These blades are made from materials like glass, diamond, or sapphire in order to maintain a very sharp edge for uniform, ultra-thin cuttings.
5. Laser microtome blade
In contrast with the other microtome blades, this process does not utilize a physical blade for cutting sections of tissue. Rather, laser microtomes are built with a bladeless femtosecond laser, to produce samples with great precision. Microtome lasers can produce sections with a thickness of around 5 to 100µm. This method works well on biological materials and a range of other materials.
6. Saw microtome blade
For harder materials, such as bone, ceramic, or resin-embedded samples, saw microtomes are the best option for processing your sample. Materials are carefully cut using a rotating diamond-coated saw. There are some limitations for the sizing of sections, as you will not be able to produce sections smaller than 20µm with this kind of blade.
7. Cryostat blade
Cryostat blades were designed to cut thin sections of frozen tissue. A cryostat is built as a deep-freeze cabinet able to house a rustproof microtome. These systems are compatible with a multitude of blades depending on both the microtome model and the materials that will be cut and sectioned.