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Laboratory Equipments - A Mini-Guide
By Themedica on October 6, 2008 7:32 AM |
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Laboratory equipments are tools and devices used by scientists and researchers to carry out work in a laboratory. Laboratory equipment entail a range of gadgets and tools for various purposes. For example, Bunsen's burners used to heat the reactants, microscopes to magnify objects and life forms invisible to the human eye because they are so tiny and other equipment viz. spectrophotometers, calorimeters, special purpose glassware are all classified as laboratory equipment.
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Generally, laboratory equipment is needed to conduct scientific experiments or for measurements or to gather data. Larger and sophisticated equipments are generally referred to as scientific instruments.

Laboratory Centrifuge

Laboratory centrifuge is an equipment powered by a motor, which spins liquid samples at high speed. laboratory centrifuges are essentially available in two sizes. The larger units are known simply as centrifuges, comprise centrifuge tubes which contain the samples. The smaller ones on the other hand are known as  microcentrifuges or microfuges and they make use of microfuge tubes to store the samples.
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Centrifuges are used to separate substances of higher density from those with lower density. They achieve this through the process of sedimentation. As they rotate the samples at high speeds the constituents of varying densities contained in the samples are separated. Different types of centrifuges accomplish different types of centrifugation viz. differential centrifugation, isopycnic centrifugation , sucrose gradient centrifugation, etc.

Laboratory Microscopes

Laboratory microscopes refer tolaboratory-microscope.jpg instruments used for viewing objects that are too small to be seen by an unaided eye. While the study of small objects is known as microscopy, the word microscopic refers to something that's very small and not visible to a naked eye.

Microscopes are often classified as either, optical microscopes, electron microscopes, or scanning probe microscopes. The optical theory microscopes work on the principles of magnification and make use of optical lenses. Also they use visible wavelengths of light, while the electron microscopes use electron beams. The electron microscopes are further classified as Scanning electron microscope and Transmission electron microscope.

Laboratory Consumables
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Laboratory consumables refer to all the items and equipment that get used up in the process of carrying out experiments. There are a number of laboratory consumables used for a myriad purposes. Some examples of consumables include Baskets, Dishes, Jugs, Paper products, Specimen containers, Trays, Rubber Stoppers, Universal Containers, Ice buckets & trays, Scoops, Buckets, Dippers, Spatulas, Analyzer Cups, Counting Vials, Cuvettes, Nitrile Gloves, Parafilm, Sample Cups, Spatulas, Weigh Boats, etc.

Laboratory Incubator

Laboratory Incubators are devices meant to regulate thelaboratoy-incubator.jpg temperature, humidity, and other conditions in which a microbiological culture are growing. Laboratory Incubators vary in their sophistication. For instance, the simplest may just be insulated boxes accompanied by an adjustable heater with a capacity to vary the temperature from 140 to 150 °F or more. On the other hand more complex incubators can include the ability to lower the temperature as well, coupled with an ability to control humidity and CO2 levels.

Advanced incubators also have a timer, which can sometimes be programed to vary parameters such as temperature, humidity levels, etc in a cycle. Furthermore, their sizes also range from being tabletop to units the size of small rooms.

Laboratory Mixers

Laboratory mixers are a device used in laboratories to mix liquids and solutions. The construction of a typical mixing device entails a drive shaft attached to a container holder. Further, a motor powering the device cause the holder to oscillate rapidly, mixing the solution. Additionally, mixers typically come with a builtin speed control to adjust the speed of oscillation based on the types of solutions to be mixed.

Laboratory Water Bath
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A laboratory water bath or a heated bath is a piece of equipment used to carry out a chemical reaction to an increased temperature.  Generally, a water bath entails a fluid on an open metallic pot in which the container holding the substances to be heated are immersed. The most common fluids used for the bath are water and oil. Water baths are needed to allow reactions to take place above 100 °C, on the other hand an oil bath is used for temperatures in excess of 100 °C.
 
For the reaction to be carried out in the reaction chamber, the chamber viz. erlenmeyer flask, florence flask, or a beaker, containing the solution is immersed in the heated bath. In addition a thermometer attached to the bath keeps a track of the temperature.  Water baths come in different sizes with comprising both analog and digital controls. The reaction chambers are made of rugged, materials that are leakproof.

Laboratory Equipments - Buying Tips

The very quality of laboratory equipments and supplies determine how effective and safe these products are and this in turn affects the quality of medical or scientific research carried out. Using substandard laboratory equipments pose a safety hazard, hence the importance of the quality lab equipments can’t be overstated.

The following are tips that would help you to procure quality laboratory equipment and supplies.

1.Establish the integrity of the source prior placing the order.

2.Establish a list of approved suppliers.

3.Require that any alternative source of supply provides the following as a minimum:

a.A pedigree back to the previous source.

b.Certification that it is not a diverted product.

c.Certification that any actions by the alternative source will not alter any original manufacture warranties or guarantees.

4.Be wary if a product is being offered at an unusually cheap price.

5.Check for subtle changes in the product’s package (compare with previously purchased products), notwithstanding legitimate parallel imported products.

Industry Overview

Laboratory equipment/instrumentation used in science and medical laboratories has grown in importance with the increasing number of medical and scientific research facilities in the health care industry. The UK's industry has developed alongside the country's industrial revolution and is an indicator of the country's science base. UK commands about 7 per cent of the world market and the sales of lab equipment in 2005 was worth US$ 4.30 billion.

The trends fueling the growth of the industry include miniaturization and automation. For the most part consumers are demanding lab equipment that occupies less space and and automation for inducing greater efficiencies in their processes. In addition, portability of the equipment too is on their minds.

Aside from the growth in the west, countries in the Asian continent such as China and India will have a bigger role to play as supplier as many suppliers have already outsourced equipment production to facilities in these countries.

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