Laboratories are an essential part of scientific research. They provide ground for practical inquiries into phenomena-the pillar of empirical studies. Laboratory testing is a key scientific principle which sets science apart from all other disciplines. Laboratories can be used for specialized purposes like medical inquiries or material analysis or for generalized purposes. For a lab to be fully effective it is imperative that it is appropriately equipped for the task for which it is meant for. A laboratory environment should be designed with precautionary safety measures in mind. The interior design of the lab should be guided by the planned purpose of the lab.
Overall all labs should integrate proper safety guidelines regardless of their uses. Proper lighting, ventilation and air conditioning should be emphasized. The size and shape of the laboratories also vary according to the number of users. Generally, the ideal work space per person in most labs should be at least 2.8M2. The space provided should support both horizontal and vertical accessibility of lab instruments. The storage area should be sufficient and properly alienated for chemicals and laboratory tools. The chemicals should be clearly labeled and locked safely. Avoid storing chemicals near fire sources as accidents are more likely. The lab tools should also be stored according to size, use and fragility. The choice of furniture should support a wide range of activities and movements in the lab.
Equipping A Laboratory
Once a suitable space has been acquired, a lab equipment list is required for effective stocking. The lists can be separated by general or specialized use. Records are very important at this stage. A list of common laboratory equipment like the beakers, Bunsen burners, tripods, and clamps etc. for basic operations should be formulated first. Such a list can be obtained from most laboratory equipment suppliers. For labs intended for educational purposes, science lab equipment is specified by the school curriculum and can easily be procured from almost any laboratory supply company. The other tools will depend on the category of the lab. Retain an updated inventory list for easy replacement of equipment and for safety purposes.
Familiarity with lab equipment names and their uses comes in handy during purchasing. Assess the various models available and weigh against the options provided. It is common practice to try to balance between the cost and quality. Equipment technology is always advancing with time. Inquire further into the best technologies available. At the same time, new does not always imply superior performance. Also safety equipment should be made available at all times.
The key to safety in the lab is proper labeling and segregation of science apparatus. Adhere to professional safety guidelines provided. Flammables and any hazardous contents should be clearly labeled. The first aid kit should be visible and easily accessible ideally within 10 seconds of accident. Preferably near the first aid kit, emergency numbers should be boldly outlined. Clearly label foods that are meant for laboratory testing to prevent accidental consumption. Fresh water should always be available. Fire safety and control equipment should be put in place at least in every corner of the lab. The type of fire extinguisher will depend on the size and cause of fire. It is safe to have at least one of each type depending on the size of the facility. However, the decision to fight fire should be assessed on the size of fire caused and the capacity to fight the fire. Additionally, a safe lab should have adequate ventilation. Always separate wastes for proper and safe disposal. Read more about laboratory safety here.
Categories Of Lab Equipment
Science supplies vary in size, use cost within various regions. Certain equipment can be obtained anywhere in the world while others are patented and manufactured by particular countries. These laboratory supplies can be categorized according to their specialized purposes. There are equipment meant for chemical, biological, medical or general research labs. Equally, laboratory suppliers can be specialized in these categories. Chemistry equipment mostly includes measuring tools and chemical reagents. In addition to the common lab tools, microbiology lab equipment are largely comprised of microscopes, autoclaves, refrigerators and bio-safety cabinets.
Laboratory materials can be obtained as new or used. Other people choose to buy second hand lab equipment due to budgetary constrictions. Others opt for second hand lab equipment because of the length of time involved in procurement. In such cases, the equipment requires shipping from overseas.
The downside of purchasing used scientific equipment is the risk of poor performance. Ensure to test it before purchase. Otherwise, it might end up costing more over time. The other drawback involves the capacity of the older machine to deliver current technology. For most material testing engineering labs, the choice of whether to buy used lab equipment vis a vis new ones is entirely a matter of budget. So long as the equipment and machines are in good working condition there is no real issue. For new equipment always obtain a service contract, especially where capital investments have been made.
Consider new purchases in areas of medical lab supplies and chemistry lab equipment. Typically, these are areas of great time sensitivity. The outcome of a test in these areas is greatly influenced by slight variations in all variables. The malfunction of particular equipment can cause detrimental effects to the functioning of the lab and eventually have very severe legal ramifications. Purchasing new equipment is frustration-free and guarantees long lasting performance. It consolidates the ownership rights over the equipment.
Where you obtain your equipment is also an important factor in scientific supply. Research lab supply requires regular and varying inputs that can accommodate changing needs of the clients. It is always important to form a working relation with the supplier. Most laboratory equipment for sale are available from online lab suppliers or stores for science supplies anywhere around the world. Choose a supplier that offers reliable support before and after purchase in addition to reasonable prices. The supplier should provide on demand consultation as dictated by the needs of the client. A responsive laboratory supply company will go a long way in ensuring the proper functioning of the supplied instruments. This will enhance smooth operations for your lab.
Laboratory Equipment And Their Uses
Equipment used for rotating equipment around a fixed axis. For example, it can hold a container filled with contents of various densities to separate them. It can separate solids from liquids by causing outward displacement. Centrifuges vary in technology, speed and size and serve different processing purposes. The high speed thermal centrifuges are more useful in microbiology, pharmacology and nanotechnology. Selecting a suitable centrifuge involves an analysis of the required speed, the amount of data involved and g-force. In the advanced machines, centrifugation can further involve grating or filtering. Most lab centrifuges however are general-purpose.
These are the most important safety equipment in any chemistry lab. It is a ventilation system that serves to control exposure to hazardous fumes, dust or vapor. It is basically a cabinet with a safety glass at the front that protects a workspace. There are two types of fume hoods; ductless/recirculation and ducted hoods. It works by drawing contaminated air from the work area and channeling it to an external area or filtering it. This mechanism therefore protects the user and the experiment from being contaminated. The filtering also protects the external environment from pollution by harmful spills and hazardous air.
Autoclaves were invented in 1879 and are primarily used for sterilization processes in laboratories. They vary in size according to their intended applications. The chamber sizes vary in capacity according to the magnitude of sterilization required. All medical and biological laboratories are required to invest in some form of sterilization equipment.
This is central piece of furniture in any lab. It provides a workspace that supports a wide range of activities. The bench is useful when conducting activities involving non-toxic substances. It is usually designed to the average standing work height.The bench provides adequate horizontal accessibility of apparatus. It is mostly used in open designs like those in educational institutions that involve large numbers of people. It provides clear visibility for supervision purposes. Lab benches can be designed in relation to the floor space available. Some are accessible from both sides while others can be accessed from one side in most linear arrangements.
This machine provides a controlled environment for supporting growth. The incubators provide an ideal contaminant free environment. Incubators come in various types and models with different applications. Incubator sizes range from small tabletops to large room size incubators. The types one can choose from depend on the intended use. There are single or dual block dry bath incubators, shaking incubators, biological-oxygen demand (BOD) units ideal for insect or plant studies, bioreactors, hybridization ovens, and a range of test chambers. The number and nature of samples to be studied at a particular time will help you determine the size of incubator required.
It measures the amount of light absorbed or reflected by an object (could be either solid or liquid). It uses beams to measure light intensity. The light intensity of the beam is measured before and after inserting the sample. It therefore measures the quantity of electromagnetic spectra. It consists of a spectrometer which measures the wavelength and a photometer for measuring intensity.
This equipment can be used in the lab or in the field to measure the index of refraction of materials. This is an important feature in industrial quality control.The four main types of refractometers; traditional handheld refractometer, digital handheld, Abbe and inline refractometers, can be applied in medical field or in gemology. Refractive indices for gases can be measured using Rayleigh refractometers. Refractometers also come in handy in marine monitoring. They can measure salinity or gravity of water. In food processing, it can also be used to measure the amount of water in honey.
Lab scales have diverse uses and vary in precision and readability. Scales measure and/or compare masses between objects. Scales require occasional calibration to minimize margins of error. They are often bought with weight sets that can be used to adjust from time to time. These weight sets also come in different classes depending on the precision levels. Scales however have a limit to the amount of load they can measure. Scales need regular cleaning as a safety measure especially where they are shared by many people or where chemicals are involved.
A microscope allows viewing of specimen that is otherwise too small for the human eye to see like plant or animal cells. Microscopes come in different powers depending on the type of specimen and detail required. The cost of the microscope increases with increasing power. Electron microscopes are the most powerful with the ability to magnify objects as small as 0.2 nanometers. Light microscopes are commonly used for ordinary viewing of animal, plant or bacteria cells.
In cell culture, cell counting requires a management system for determining cell viability or cell concentration. A cell counter can either be automated or manual. An automated cell counter is more efficient because it offers real time counting- counting begins as soon as the sample is inserted. It is also faster with a complete cell count of half a minute. A manual cell counter uses a hemacytometer to accomplish its task.
This is a scientific tool that determines the angle rotation resulting from passing of polarized light in organic and inorganic materials. It measures optical activity in compounds. This activity is usually determined by the concentration and structure of molecules in a compound. There are various types of polarimeters available today. The choice of the polarimeter will be determined by the nature of the compound intended to be measured and the ease of use. The fully automated ones are the easiest to use even for non–technical personnel. This equipment is useful in physics and general material research and engineering fields.
The colorimeter is commonly used in chemistry applications. It has two major purposes in this field. The first is to measure color absorbance in different wavelengths. The second is to measure the concentrations of unknown solutions and known solutes. It can also measure concentration changes in a solution over time. Results are shown over a linear meter that can be analogue or digital. In automated colorimeters, the results can also be sent over to a computer or displayed in a chart recorder. The best monitor colorimeters are those that display a very accurate color profile.
Chemicals For Lab Use