Laboratory Autoclaves & Sterilisers for Testing Labs
Most laboratory autoclaves currently on the market are “steam jacketed.” This means they have an additional steel shell around the sterilisation chamber, which is flooded with steam or cold water during most sterilisation cycles. This design was originally developed for high-throughput medical settings, like hospitals. While this approach is great for a narrow range of critical tasks (like processing flat trays of medical instruments at all hours, day and night), that comes at a cost. Jacketed autoclaves consume much more water and electricity, require more maintenance, and have a higher purchase price and shorter working lifespan. They rarely prove reliable and flexible enough for the rigours of the testing laboratory.
Meaningful testing requires an industrial autoclave that can maintain an absolutely consistent sterilisation temperature for long periods of time. This is especially the case in food and pharmaceutical stability testing, since these items are often subject to both prolonged heat and moisture—conditions easily emulated by an industrial autoclave with a quality programmable control system.
Priorclave laboratory autoclaves are built from the ground up for testing and research. These aren’t simply steam sterilisers that take something clean and make it sterile. These are easy-to-use, fully programmable laboratory autoclaves. They’ll take anything–instruments, glassware, pipettes, samples, growth media, liquid loads, biohazardous waste, a circuit board, a rubber sample, a soup can–and raise it to a specific temperature and pressure for minutes, hours, days, even months.
A Laboratory Autoclave Designed for Testing
Every Priorclave laboratory autoclave is built around an ASME-stamped 316L stainless steel pressure vessel. These autoclaves can maintain a pressure range up to 2.2 bar and a temperature range up to 277ºF (a wider range than many competing jacketed autoclaves which have been designed for high performance in medical settings). Priorclave autoclaves rely on high-efficiency cylindrical pressure vessels, which are available in standard chamber sizes from 40 litres up to 400 litres (with other chamber sizes available as need dictates). Priorclave’s “top-loading” vertical autoclaves come in chamber volumes of 60L to 150L. Our “front-loading” units range from space-saving 40L benchtops to 400L and larger floor-standing sterilisers. We also offer double-ended pass-through models for applications that need to maintain “clean room” conditions for development or testing or strict BSL containment standards.
Certain loads consistently resist steam sterilisation. For example, it’s hard to fully permeate porous loads (like textile or soil) with steam simply using a passive “gravity cycle.” Other loads (like plastic waste and deep or narrow-mouthed containers) tend to capture pockets of cold air, thus preventing complete and reliable sterilisation or consistent exposure to heat. This is why Priorclave offers “pre-vacuum” (pre-vac) cycle options for every autoclave (regardless of size, orientation, or chamber volume). Once an autoclave is outfitted with a vacuum pump, your lab has the option of drawing a partial vacuum in the chamber during the initial heating period, while the chamber is being flooded with steam. The autoclave then “pulses” this vacuum, ensuring that the cold air is entirely removed from the chamber and the load is thus completely permeated with steam. A laboratory autoclave with a vacuum pump can also run “post-cycle” vacuum stages, which results in much dryer loads, which can significantly speed cycle times or create specific weathering conditions for accelerated aging tests.
Priorclave’s advanced Tactrol Control System makes all this possible. With this robust, programmable control it’s possible to precisely vary temperature and pressure mid-cycle–something that’s simply not possible with most low-cost tabletop sterilisers or old-fashioned “pressure cooker” autoclaves. Every one of our units–from the smallest tabletop unit to the largest custom pass-through model–is capable of extended cycles (up to 999 minutes), cycle repeat (up to 999 consecutive iterations), and precision cycle-by-cycle programming.
Armour, Rubber, Cell Phones, and Surgical Devices—Testing Lab Sterilisers in Action
Over the course of decades, Priorclave’s autoclaves have proven especially useful in research, new product development, and testing. Our autoclaves are regularly used to determine the durability of disposable contact lens packaging and lifespan of reusable connectors on electronic medical devices, to test the limits of lead-free solder connections in cell phones, and to simulate weathering of spacecraft thermal tiles. One client, a tire manufacturer, uses their Priorclave to periodically run a single precisely programmed 48-hour long cycle.
In 2015, a medical device manufacturer was developing a new robotics-assisted suite of tools to improve partial and total knee replacement surgery. The system relied on several reusable components that—as surgical instruments—must undergo a hospital sterilisation cycle after each use. These components included electrical sensors encased in a metal and plastic enclosure assembled with epoxy. The device manufacturer had a variety of concerns about how this device would hold up to repeated uses and hospital sterilisations. They wanted to run their prototypes through hundreds of sterilisation cycles. But using an actual hospital steriliser for this proved prohibitive: those steam sterilisers could not accommodate automated repeat cycles or the monitoring equipment they wanted to have in-chamber during the cycle. Under these conditions, even a single testing cycle took months.
We worked with them to supply a research-grade front-loading autoclave ideal for testing. It could precisely emulate a hospital sterilisation cycle, automatically repeating that cycle, while accommodating their third-party monitoring equipment. Overnight, they were able to increase prototype testing throughput by 500%. What had been months of testing now took just days.
Exceptional Lab Autoclave Support
The real difference isn’t just in the autoclave; it’s in the support:
Priorclave customers consistently report 93% to 100% satisfaction with their purchase over the course of years–with that rating improving the longer they’ve owned the unit. In our most recent customer satisfaction survey, most owners rated installation and first use “very satisfactory,” with more than a quarter calling it “delightful.” More than 90% of our current customers report that they would almost certainly buy another Priorclave and recommend our autoclaves to colleagues.
Wherever you are, we are as close as a phone call or mouse click.