In these weeks blog, we give a quick explanation of some commonly seen pieces of laboratory equipment. From microbiology laboratories to labs in the pharmaceutical and oil industries, laboratories wouldn’t be able to function efficiently without equipment. In addition to staff, of course!
Here are five common pieces of laboratory equipment you might see if you were to visit or work in a laboratory.
Although autoclaves kind of already existed, they were re-invented for medical and scientific use by Charles Chamberland in 1879. Autoclaves are a common sight in almost all laboratories and are amongst the most heavily used pieces of lab equipment.
Available in many sizes, from industrial to mini benchtop versions, an autoclave uses steam under pressure to kill bacteria, viruses, fungi, and spores on items that are placed inside. This enables laboratory staff to reuse equipment such as glassware safe in the knowledge that it is fully sterile. It also helps cut costs on consumables and is better for the environment than disposing of equipment and repurchasing.
Some types of laboratories will process samples that need an extra little bit of preparation before they can be analysed. This is especially common in food microbiology labs where samples can be large and bulky.
Pharmaceutical labs, the oil industry and cosmetic testing laboratories will also process samples that are too viscous to be dosed accurately.
Samples of this nature are often diluted with a broth or media before being homogenised resulting in a liquid more appropriate for laboratory analysis. One of the easiest ways’ laboratories can ensure accurate dilutions is by using a gravimetric dilutor/dispenser, such as the Smart Dilutor by IUL.
Most micro labs will have one or several colony counters. These are used to count the number of colonies growing on agar, usually in a Petri dish or plate. Used by a range of microbiological laboratories, colony counters used to be quite simple and low tech – counting was usually done by lighting the back of the plate and simply marking colonies on the plate lid using a marker pen.
There is a range of automated colony counters on the market today with many clever features that enable senior laboratory staff to delegate colony counting to technicians whilst they perform other tasks in the laboratory.
Laboratories use water baths to heat samples as they provide a more controllable, gentle source of heat rather than an open flame.
This is particularly useful in laboratories processing flammable samples or samples where cell lines need to be maintained.
Water baths between manufacturers look quite similar, consisting of a stainless steel chamber where the water and sample will go, a heating element, and a control panel. For samples requiring specific treatment shaking water baths are available or models that circulate water.
We haven’t got any numbers, but we bet micropipettes, also called adjustable pipettes are the most used piece of equipment in a laboratory. Used to transfer small quantities of liquid they are commonly used in a wide range of laboratories including chemistry, biology, pharmaceutical, and microbiology laboratories.
Although plastic ‘squishy’, disposable pipettes are also used in laboratories, these are reserved for work where a greater volume of liquid is needed, and precision isn’t as important in the transfer. Adjustable pipettes are carefully calibrated to ensure precise amounts of liquid are taken up and dispensed.
Pro-Lab Diagnostics supply a wide range of laboratory equipment from well-known manufacturers such as Benchmark, IUL, NEO, ILSA, plus many more.
Renowned for our professional relationships and commitment to providing excellent service, we are happy to answer any queries you may have about equipment for your laboratory. Please get in touch.