Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Radiology North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine Raleigh, North Carolina 27606, USA
The typical freeze-dryer can be considered a plastinator with a condenser added. The presence of the condenser, although not essential for plastination, actually improves the performance of the unit as a plastinator. In fact, with the addition of a valve for vacuum control, the freeze-dryer becomes a superior plastination apparatus. Freeze- dryers are often available in departments considering the establishment of a plastination laboratory. They also may be found in state or university surplus warehouses. The author and his colleagues would not hesitate to recommend the purchase of a new freeze-dryer or plastinator in lieu of collecting and assembling separate components. This may amount to a considerable savings in money, time and effort.
Freeze -Dry; plastination;
Steve D. Holladay Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Radiology North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine Raleigh, North Carolina 27606, USA
Anatomists at the College of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University first came into contact with plastinated specimens in late 1983 and immediately decided to incorporate the technique into their teaching program. As has been the case with many other plastinators, the first Step was to attend the next, regularly scheduled International Conference on Plastination (San Antonio, 1984). It was soon evident that the greatest difficulty to overcome for any beginning plastinator is the building of the actual plastination unit.
Following the Conference, Dr Harmon Bickley, of (at that time) The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, was called and asked a few questions about the unit being used there. Probably the most influencing bit of Information passed on by Dr Bickley was the comment that he would try to find an old freeze-dryer vacuum chamber if he was starting again to assemble such a unit. This was reasonable in that a freeze-dryer chamber is specifically built for vacuum. It is cylindrical (for greatest strength), well- sealed and fitted with a gasket and a heavy door.
It was then realized that the cooling System of a freeze-dryer could be used since it is specifically intended to maintain the temperatures needed for plastination. Also, a freeze-dryer comes equipped with a vacuum pump, capable of reaching the 5 microns of pressure desirable in plastination.
It gradually became apparent that there would be no need to disassemble a freeze- dryer to build a plastinator. All that was necessary to convert one to the other was to simply add a valve that could be used for vacuum control. A bonus not anticipated at the time was that, having done this, the freeze-drying capability of the machine would still be intact.
Having used a commercial freeze-dryer (Virtis Co. Model 220-PR) as a plastinator for the past three years, the author feels that scientists at this institution have an unusual opportunity to communicate Information that might be helpful to others who are either starting plastination or considering a change of equipment. The purpose of this article is to discuss the Special features and advantages of the freeze-dryer plastination apparatus.
(dia x length, inches)
|24 x 24||6.3||7,870|
|36 x 66||38.9||16,700|
|The first unit is a bit larger than some in current use which cost almost twice as much to as- semble. The second is suitable for general use. The third has a chamber large enough for four standing adults and would probably tempt only a few beginning plastinators.|