1. Do you need a manual unit or a fully automatic table top autoclave and what is the difference?
A manual table top autoclave requires the operator to manipulate the machine through each cycle. It is a multi step process over the course of an hour. Step one is to turn a valve, knob or lever (depending on autoclave model) to fill the table top autoclave chamber to the water fill line. You then load the autoclave with the instruments to be sterilized. Next, secure the door and set the timer so the autoclave can begin the heat up process. Once the machine has reached sterilization temperature and pressure the operator then sets the sterilization timer. The table top autoclave will now begin the count down. A buzzer will ring and now it is time to vent the unit. When the autoclave is properly exhausted the operator then opens the door to commence the drying cycle.
Most busy clinics utilize a fully automatic or semi-automatic autoclave. These autoclaves are designed to load, set and forget. You simply load it, close the door, push a button and the autoclave automatically fills, sterilizes, vents and dries without operator assistance. The convenience factor many times far out weighs the additional cost.
2. What is the cost of ownership?
A well maintained table top autoclave is not expensive to own. It will require distilled water that can be purchased at your local retail or grocery store and a regular cleaning routine. Each model uses a different type of autoclave cleaning solution. It is a fairly simple process. The key is to do this on a regular consistent schedule. The door gasket will need to be replaced every 8 to 14 months depending on hours of use.
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