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Last Updated on February 27, 2024

An autoclave is a steam sterilization tool for lab equipment. They’re most commonly used in medical or pharmaceutical fields for sterilizing beakers, test tubes, petri dishes, etc. But did you know autoclaves have more uses beyond the laboratory?

At Tomy, we take pride that our autoclaves are used in a diverse range of industries and applications. Let’s look at other use cases for autoclaves and how you can take full advantage of their steam sterilization powers in your industry.

What Autoclaves Are Commonly Used For

Before we delve into the extraordinary applications, let’s quickly recap what autoclaves are used for and how they generally work.

The CDC recommends autoclaves as a safe and effective method of steam sterilization. They work their magic by combining four essential factors: heat, steam, pressure, and time. This powerful combination ensures the sterilization of any item placed inside the machine.

Labs primarily use them to sterilize items, including glass media, liquid media, and instruments. Laboratories frequently autoclave a plethora of glassware made from high-quality Pyrex/borosilicate glass, such as:

  • Flasks
  • Beakers
  • Glass Petri dishes

An autoclave sterilizer can also be used to routinely sterilize both solid and liquid media, such as:

  • Culture media
  • Biological cultures
  • Stocks

In addition, these versatile machines efficiently handle bacteria, viruses, and fungi with equal effectiveness. Labs can use autoclaves daily to sterilize instruments that can often be contaminated with harmful agents, such as:

  • Pipette tips
  • Gloves
  • Plastic Petri dishes

An interesting fact about using glassware for culture media is that you can autoclave both together simultaneously — treating them as a single item. This convenience is a result of the compatibility between glassware and autoclaving. Moreover, stainless steel, polypropylene, and polycarbonate are other materials that harmonize perfectly with the autoclave.

When choosing an autoclave, keep in mind that the shape matters. Flasks, the workhorses of many laboratories, are typically round and vertical. Therefore, rectangular or horizontal autoclaves won’t accommodate them efficiently, leading to regretful purchases and sterilization challenges.

What Autoclaves Are Not Used For

While autoclave steam sterilizers are versatile, they do have their limits. Some certain items and materials don’t mix well with autoclaves — and may even lead to significant damage to both the item and the sterilizer itself. As we all know, autoclaves aren’t cheap. So, it’s best to carefully read the manual and understand how to use it to keep your machine in operational condition.

Autoclaves can sterilize glassware, steel instruments, liquid media, and gloves. But what items should be kept far, far away from the machine? Here are things you should not put inside an autoclave:

  • Plastics (polyurethane, polyethylene) that you aren’t trying to throw away
  • Non-stainless steel
  • Acids
  • Radioactive material
  • Chlorine and chlorine-based products
  • Bleach
  • Flammable or corrosive material

In short, you should never autoclave anything combustible, explosive, flammable, toxic, or reactive. One note with plastics is that it doesn’t apply to all types. Some can be autoclaved, but check your machine to see if it’s safe and compatible.

Knowing what items to keep out of the autoclave can save you hundreds of dollars in repairs and damages. It may even save you from replacing it with a new one.

So, remember to always double-check before putting your item in the autoclave. In addition, it’s paramount that you understand how to use the steam sterilizer correctly and perform the necessary care and maintenance procedures to ensure your autoclave remains fully functional.

Where Else Can You Use an Autoclave Sterilizer

Autoclaves have become indispensable in laboratories where microscopic organisms thrive, such as biochemical and biological research labs, pharmaceutical research facilities, government agencies, and renowned universities. It’s no surprise that these esteemed organizations rely on Tomy autoclaves for their sterilization needs.

But these aren’t the only industries and sectors that can benefit from autoclave sterilizers.

At Tomy, we take pride in catering to clients at the forefront of creative product development. Let’s explore some exceptional uses of autoclave sterilization that go beyond the boundaries of traditional lab work.

Hospitals

A hospital is one place that would find extreme value in autoclaving. Doctors and nurses are constantly using a variety of medical and surgical instruments, such as scalpels, syringes, scissors, and forceps, to name a few. The most common sterilization type in hospitals is heat or steam. The reason is that steam sterilization is dependable, nontoxic, and inexpensive. Autoclaves are solid examples of steam sterilizers that health professionals can use to prevent viruses and infections in both themselves and patients.

Tattoos & piercings

The tattoo and piercing industries have become increasingly popular in recent years. More and more people are adding art to their skin as a form of creative self-expression. So, tattoo parlors and artists understand the importance of sterilizing their instruments. Using a steam sterilizer can be a critical health tool in preventing infections, as needles penetrate the epidermis and dermis.

It’s essential to have the right tools for sterilization. So, look no further than an autoclave, as it can effectively sterilize any tattooing instruments made of metal and glass.

Salons

No matter what type of salon you run — hair, nail, foot — heat (or steam) sterilization and sanitation are a must. There is a chance that clients may carry a disease or bacteria. As a salon worker, this is the assumption you work under. So, it’s better to be safe than sorry when disinfecting your equipment. Autoclaves can help you sterilize nail filers, tweezers, scissors, nail cutters, and even linen after each use. They are effective at disintegrating any bacteria and microorganisms to prevent the spread of diseases. It’s a valuable solution to keeping salons and clients safe.

Plants

That’s right! You can use an autoclave to sterilize soil. It can be a great multi-use tool to help eliminate microorganisms, pathogens, and pests from oil samples.

One of our clients has revolutionized the transplantation of pine trees by growing them in laboratories. The desert environment, inhospitable to traditional germination methods, poses no challenge when the trees are nurtured in Petri dishes. Every used dish and depleted agar is sterilized in our autoclaves, ensuring the continued success of this groundbreaking approach. To meet the demands of this ambitious project, the lab utilizes seven autoclaves, maintaining a steady flow of production.

Breweries

It’s no secret that the craft beer industry has witnessed exponential growth. Startups and microbreweries rely on our autoclaves to develop their unique beer recipes. In breweries, it’s essential to have clean and sterilized equipment to ensure quality taste. Autoclaves are perfect for craft beer production as they eliminate all microbial life forms (bacteria, viruses, spores, etc.). This helps to preserve and maintain the original taste. Using an autoclave to sterilize your brewery equipment can ensure quality and save you money. Terrapin Beer Company was spending $12,000 annually for PCR testing. But after buying a Tomy SX-700 autoclave, they were able to save that money and reinvest it into areas of their business.

Cannabis Industry

As the cannabis industry flourishes, rigorous lab work becomes crucial to produce high-quality plant-based ingredients. From beverages to skincare, cannabinoids offer diverse applications that demand sterilization after every development batch. This burgeoning sector has quickly become a significant part of our customer base, with numerous cannabis companies relying on Tomy autoclaves to meet their sterilization requirements.

Other uses

While the above examples highlight some extraordinary applications, the list is not exhaustive. Autoclaves continue to find surprising uses in various industries and settings. Veterinary clinics and pet hospitals utilize autoclaves to ensure the cleanliness and safety of their material and equipment. Additionally, we have seen reports of autoclaves being used to create pre-impregnated carbon-fiber components—an intriguing fusion of technology and steam sterilization.

Unlock the Versatile Potential of Autoclaves for Your Laboratory

Autoclaves have come a long way from their traditional use in laboratories. From fostering innovative tree transplantation techniques to revolutionizing craft brewing and supporting the cannabis industry’s rapid growth, autoclaves have proven their adaptability and efficiency across various sectors. Discover the possibilities and harness the power of autoclaving to drive your research, development, and sterilization efforts to new heights.

Are you searching for the perfect autoclave to meet your laboratory’s needs? Look no further. At TOMY, we offer a range of autoclaves suited for diverse applications. To explore our selection and find the ideal match for your requirements, fill out a contact form on our website. Our dedicated sales representatives will promptly assist you, providing pricing information and answering any questions you may have

Connect with us today and unlock the potential of autoclaves for your laboratory’s success.

Share Your Unique Story

We are always fascinated by the innovative and unconventional uses our customers discover for autoclave steam sterilizers. If you have a surprising or unusual application for your autoclave, we would love to hear from you. Get in touch with us and share your story. Who knows? You might be featured in a future blog post, showcasing your groundbreaking work to our audience.

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