What kind of autoclave should you choose if you have to sterilize a tall item, glassware or vessel? We get requests fairly often for people looking for an autoclave to sterilize tall or otherwise custom-size glassware. Tall vessels can present a challenge not only because the autoclave’s usable internal height must be tall enough to accommodate it, but often the width of the vessel prohibits sterilizing multiples at a time. In order to sterilize tall vessels, there are two types of autoclaves that work well, with advantages and disadvantages to each.
A top-loading autoclave can be useful for tall objects, and Astell’s Top Loading Autoclave range can accommodate up to a 26.8 inch (682mm) vessel height. The advantage of a circular top-loader is that the steel chamber is turned on its end, allowing the unit to accommodate taller items, while maintaining the cost-effectiveness of a circular chamber. Additionally, top loading autoclaves offer an electric hoist option, making loading easy, smooth and stable. This is especially useful if the tall objects are filled with liquid and heavy.
However, the disadvantage is that the top loading autoclave range does not offer much in the way of width, and when vessels are tall, they are often also wide – so the autoclave will usually only accommodate one large vessel at a time. The other disadvantage is that during loading and unloading, the vessel must be lifted above the height of the vessel, and autoclave, which means there is a practical ceiling height limit for top loading autoclaves. For example, if the vessel is 26.8 inches, that means it needs to be lifted 54 inches off the ground to get it in and out. So room height can become an issue the taller the item is.
Front loading square autoclaves offer a larger chamber size than their circular counterparts, with the square shape maximizing the space of the internal autoclave cavity. The next tallest Astell Square Front Loading autoclave ranges from 27.5 inches (700 mm) to as much as 59 inches (1500 mm)! Aside from the height increase, the other advantage of the square chamber is that it has a wider capacity as well, allowing the potential to sterilize multiple vessels at the same time, as opposed to just one. Due to the loading from the front, it also does not have the issue of hoisting the vessels above the autoclave, meaning there is less of a potential for room height limitations. If users do need assistance with loading the autoclave, a specialized loading cart can be produced to allow the objects to be loaded easily, smoothly, and safely.
The only real disadvantage for a Front Loading Square autoclave in comparison to Top Loading Autoclaves is price. The larger square autoclaves are significantly more costly than their circular chamber counterparts.