Last Updated on May 2, 2022
More often than not, basic laboratory equipment is glossed over and overlooked until it malfunctions. However, equipment like centrifuges and autoclaves are the backbone of research facilities and any downtime can cause issues. Centrifuges are essential to most laboratories, but especially to those in the cell and molecular biology space. Choosing a centrifuge for your laboratory is confusing; they come in many sizes, configurations, and styles and serve different functions. A typical lab may have 3-4 centrifuges, all for various needs. So how is the team in charge of purchasing equipment supposed to make an informed decision? We’re here to help! In this post, we explain the features of different centrifuges, how to know which features are important, and guide you through the purchasing process.
Determining your Centrifugation needs; Centrifuge Configurations.
Laboratories often have three types of centrifuges; a small tabletop centrifuge, a high-speed benchtop one, and a refrigerated, more versatile, full-sized centrifuge. The first is mainly used to spin down samples quickly for homogenizing. The high-speed benchtop centrifuge is used typically for 1.5 – 2 mL micro-tubes and can climb up to speeds of 15,000 rpm. The third centrifuge is perhaps also the most robust, as it can spin down small tubes, 10-15 mL vials, 50 mL conicals, and even 96-well plates and more, while able to keep samples at a specific temperature. However, owning three machines is expensive and they often aren’t portable, meaning that they occupy a large portion of precious bench space. If your laboratory space is limited, you might have to create space or share a centrifuge with a neighboring lab. This might not seem like a huge issue, but long spin-down times during processes such as maxi-prepping can cause backlogs and delays.
When choosing a centrifuge, we suggest keeping in mind your budget, the vials you have, and your cooling needs. Purchasing three separate centrifuges is a luxury few labs can afford, and it can still be costly in terms of space and upkeep. With centrifuge configuration in terms of the vials a laboratory works with, it can be a challenge working with an all-in-one centrifuge, as these typically come with multiple rotors and hexagon screwdrivers to switch out rotors and rotor racks. Consider consulting your end-users and laboratory managers to determine the samples that will need to be centrifuged and accordingly find a centrifuge that fits all sample types. Next, be sure to go through protocols and determine whether you would need a refrigerated centrifuge. This feature of a centrifuge is based on how fast a centrifuge can cool down, as this affects the length of preparation of samples, but also the coldest temperature the centrifuge can cool down to. Finally, consult with your financial manager to determine the budget for such a purchase. Choosing a centrifuge that serves all of your needs and purposes can be a significant investment.
Considering Performance and Safety Over the Years.
In deciding between centrifuges, performance and safety should not be overlooked. At its core, a centrifuge is a rotor that spins at extremely high revolutions per minute and uses centrifugal force to help separate sample constituents based on density. However, where centrifuge brands and types differ are mainly based on capabilities and safety features. If you require a centrifuge that can cool samples quickly, purchasing one with a very slow cooling procedure can cause long wait times and sample preparation times. For speed, most centrifuges can achieve high speeds quickly, but should you need a controlled acceleration and deceleration, it could be challenging to find a compatible centrifuge. A soft brake feature can help protect your samples and prevent them from mixing after the separation process and can prove invaluable over the years. A user-friendly centrifuge would also contribute to overall user happiness, as complicated centrifuge interfaces are tough to work with.
Finally, considering the safety of users and samples shouldn’t be ignored. On its very basis, a centrifuge should be able to detect abnormalities in the weight of samples and prevent accidents. A lid interlocking system can prevent the lid from opening during high-speed operations, which can be catastrophic. A centrifuge should also be able to identify the rotor type and set speed limits to ensure the safety of users and samples. Finally, consider purchasing a centrifuge with a low carbon footprint or an eco-mode. This power-saving function serves to reduce costs over time!
When choosing a centrifuge, keep in mind your feature requirements, performance needs, and safety. One of our products, the TOMY MDX-310 centrifuge, features a top-loading design, with a single rotor rack and exchangeable rotors. What’s great about this is that you don’t have to load and unload samples, as shown here. The centrifuge has a host of safety features but ensures that appropriate speeds are matched based on the type of rotor. With a simple installation, portable design, an eco-mode, and an extremely user-friendly build, the TOMY MX 307 centrifuge will meet all of your needs.
Should you need any more information regarding TOMY centrifuges, or just have some questions regarding features, repair, and maintenance of centrifuges, please reach out to us.
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