Looking to Buy a Used Autoclave? 8 Reasons to Think Twice

No matter what industry you’re in, the machinery required to do your work is probably one of your main expenses.

You’re always looking for ways to lower costs on equipment, so you try to (safely) cut corners wherever you can.

One of the ways you may think you can save is purchasing used autoclaves.

Used equipment can be an option, but in the case of used pressure tanks – autoclaves included – there are some issues you should consider before purchasing one.

Here’s what you need to think about before you buy.

1. Know your state’s requirements

Almost every state in the U.S. has some kind of law for pressure vessels.

You should check with your state’s Boiler Inspection division to find out what the requirements are for installing and operating a used autoclave in your specific state.

For example, most states will stipulate that you have a copy of the Manufacturer’s Data Report for the autoclave – at a minimum.

2. Make sure the autoclave has a manufacturers nameplate stamped with a “U” stamp

This is what tells you that the autoclave was manufactured in accordance with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Code (ASME code).

3. Verify that the important documents match

In this case, the information on your Manufacturer’s Data Report should match the Manufacturer nameplate information.

4. Have an ultrasound thickness test performed

This test will focus on the thickness of the autoclave’s shell, head and door.

Autoclaves are designed with a certain level of “corrosion allowance.”

Once the corrosion allowance is depleted, the autoclave can’t be used at its rated maximum allowable working pressure any longer to stay in compliance with pressure vessel laws.

5. Determine if the vessel was heat-treated when it was manufactured

Some autoclaves require heat-treatment during the manufacturing process. This depends on the intended use for the vessel.

You can find the information you need in that all-important Manufacturer’s Data Report.

The nameplate information will also give you an answer. If you see the letters “ST” or “HT,” you’ll know if the autoclave was heat-treated.

6. Make sure the autoclave is rated for the pressure you need

You need to know the vessel’s Maximum Allowable Working Pressure (MAWP).

Guess where you can find this information?

In the Manufacturer’s Data Report or by looking at the nameplate.

It’s important to note that the MAWP isn’t the pressure the autoclave can WORK at, rather it’s the LIMIT of the autoclave.

7. Confirm that the track gauge inside the vessel matches the one at your facility

If the used autoclave you’re looking at includes a set of tracks for loading the products into and out of the vessel, it needs to match the track you have at your facility.

If they don’t match, you’ll have the job of cutting the tracks out of the autoclave and replacing them.

Keep in mind, this is considered a National Board repair and would need to follow the National Board Code.

8. Make sure the autoclave’s steel supports can hold the weight of the loads you’ll be processing

The last thing you want to do is over-stress the supports.

Again, alterations can be made, but the hassle of getting an alteration approved by the National Board may be more headache than it’s worth.

Think twice about a used autoclave

Your attempts to save money with a used autoclave have a high chance of backfiring due to the various regulations and rules governing the autoclave industry in general.

You’ll be better off purchasing a new autoclave that can be customized specifically for your industry and your uses for the vessel.

When you’re ready for a replacement autoclave, will you think twice about purchasing a used one?

Author: Jeffrey Lippincott

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