Coverslippers prepare slides of human, animal or plant tissue specimens before the specimens are studied under a microscope. They prevent the slides from being contaminated by other cells or trapped air. A coverslipper consists of:
- A specimen basket-loading station.
- Standard 25mm x 75mm (1”x3”) microscope slides.
- A loading station, which might or might not contain xylene to protect slides from drying out before being coverslipped.
- Mounting materials, which consist of a resin-coated film or cover glass.
- A robotic arm to handle baskets.
- An unloading station.
- A control panel.
- A fume control system, which uses activated-carbon filters to remove harmful vapors from inside the instrument.
The operator places specimen slides into compatible baskets and places the baskets into the basket-loading station. When the loading door is closed, sensors detect the number of baskets, and a robotic arm picks up one basket at a time and carries it to the coverslipping area. The coverslipping film or coverglass is applied to the slide and the slide is returned to the slide basket. When all slides have been coverslipped, the basket is transferred to the unloading station.
Common coverslipper problems:
- Air bubbles in the slides. This will cause the operator to not see the specimen clearly and could result in a misdiagnosis. It also could cause the coverslip to come loose and jeopardize the specimen if it has to be re-evaluated years later.
- Robotic arm jams. This could cause the slide to break. The operator would have to repeat all steps to produce a slide, which becomes a real problem if there isn’t enough tissue to produce another specimen.
- Misaligned robotic arm. This could cause the slide to break. The operator would have to repeat all steps to produce a slide, which, again, becomes a major problem if there isn’t enough tissue to produce another specimen.
- Coverslip not aligned. This could cause the coverslip to come loose and jeopardize the specimen if it has to be re-evaluated years later. It also could create the potential of a severe cutting injury to the operator. Finally, it could make it so the slide can’t be used by other pieces of histology equipment.
- Excessive noise. This will cause a nuisance and may be a sign of mechanical issues.
- Display errors. This will cause the operator to have to solve the problem behind the error, or it will shut down the coverslipper, depending on the error message.
In the case of error codes on the tissue processor control panel display, please refer to the product user manual. Different manufacturers use different codes and have different troubleshooting steps. In the case of a loss of power, remember to check circuit breakers and fuses.
When a Tech One technician is needed to make repairs, he will diagnose the problem and make appropriate repairs. The typical service call is one to three hours.
Coverslipper maintenance tips:
- Clean all movement areas of glue daily. In fact, daily maintenance is most important with a coverslipper of all histology equipment. Failure to do so could result in broken slides and potential injury.
- Make sure to replace the coverslipper’s charcoal filter every three months.
- When unsure, call a Tech One technician for assistance.
Coverslipper makes & models products Tech One repairs:
- Hacker: RCM-3655
- Leica Biosystems: CV5030
- Microm: CTM6
- Sakura: Tissue-Tek 4740 Film, Tissue-Tek (SCA?)4764 Film, Tissue-Tek Glas 6400, Tissue-Tek Glas g2 6500
- Surgipath: Excentra GCS 600
- TBS: RCM7000
- Thermo Scientific: ClearVue, Consul
Making adjustments: The control panel provides for easy changes, such as xylene dispensing, mounting materials volume and film length through function keys.