The automatic processor (see figure 3-3) is used by most dental treatment
facilities. Following exposure, the film is unwrapped in the darkroom and immediately
loaded into the automatic processor. The unit consists of rollers and compartments
filled with chemical solutions through which the film advances. At the end of the
processing cycle, the film is released. The cycle duration varies from 4 to 6 minutes.
Figure 3-3. Automatic processor.
a. Preventive Maintenance. Preventive maintenance is the key for keeping
this machine operational. The operator must adhere to the daily, weekly, and monthly
maintenance schedule as prescribed by the manufacturer.
b. Operation. There are several automatic processors on the market today.
Each machine has a slightly different design as well as different maintenance and
operational requirements. Therefore, you must consult the operator's manual;
otherwise a very expensive piece of equipment may be damaged.
The manual processor uses the standard time-temperature method and small
containers of the different processing solutions. The dental specialist should be familiar
with the manual processor in case the automatic processor is not available. The
manual processor will allow the dental specialist to continue providing support to the
dental officer without interrupting patient treatment.
Manual processing is the primary method whereby film will be processed
when field equipment is used.