What size of autoclave do I need?
In part one we explained the importance of understanding What are you sterilizing? What does the load contain? In part two we will look at the options relevant to load capacity and cycle time.
It’s important to understand the implications of the load size and frequency when researching a new autoclave. Considerations for the capacity of your autoclave are ‘how large is each load likely to be’, ‘how many cycles will you need to run per day’ and ‘will any unusual sized items fit in the autoclave chamber.’ There are two chamber types, circular and square section, and these will be explained in more detail in part three. Examples of both types can be found in our main product listings pages.
As well as the above and the speed of each cycle, operators should also consider the practicality of physical size and loading access. Astell autoclaves can be manufactured in capacities of 33 litres – 2000 litres and as front or top loading units (dependent on size). On very large capacity machines a loading system using a ‘truck’ may be something to consider - we can cater for all requirements.
Top loading autoclaves usually have a smaller footprint. Front loading autoclaves are generally easier to load and unload, since loading heights are usually more ‘user-friendly’, i.e. unlike top-loading units, they do not require the vertical lifting of potentially heavy loads from a relatively low position.
We are often asked by customers ‘what is the autoclave cycle time?’ Whilst a simple question, it is not straightforward to answer, as the cycle time will vary depending on the size and type of machine, and the contents being sterilized. For example, with a load containing glass beakers and flasks the total sterilization time will be affected by the number of items, their individual size and if they contain any residual fluids. The bigger the bottles the slower the cycle time; plastic bottles take longer to cool and slow the cycle time, and if the bottles contain fluid this will also typically lengthen the cycle time. However a number of options exist to speed the sterilization cycle process, which is why it is important to consult with us and explain your requirements. See here for an example of where the right advice and options halved the cycle time!