Laboratory Equipment Supply

Written by Jared Vincenti
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For every different type of laboratory, there is going to be a whole new set of equipment that you need. It is nearly impossible to generalize what is essential laboratory equipment. Some labs will need little more than a few syringes and petri dishes, others will require mile-wide particle accelerators. However, there are some things that are common to most labs.

Quite simply, there are a limited number of things that a lab will always need. With the exception of physics labs, almost every lab is going to need glassware, software, and cleaning equipment. That way, they have the equipment for doing their experiments, the tools to analyze and record their results, and equipment to return clean goods to repeat their experiments.

Glassware

Glassware can be one of the cheaper aspects of laboratory supplies, but even with careful scientists, it does break easily and often needs to be replaced. Chemists probably use the most interesting glassware, as their beakers and tubes come in some very interesting shapes and size. Unfortunately, the most interesting pieces of glassware are usually the most fragile, as well as the most expensive.

Glass is still preferred over plastic in most labs for its clarity and physical properties. Mostly, glass can take much stronger heats than plastic, and it never melts. Even though glass shatters instead (and this is more dangerous), results can be unknowingly ruined by a little bit of melted plastic in the mix.

Software

No matter what you're doing in your lab, odds are you will need some computer software to finish your experiments. Most high-tech instruments are programmed to feed information directly into a computer, where it is translated into much more readable forms. Computerized sensors can report temperature, pH, oxygen levels, pressure, and a myriad of other variables.

Furthermore, using software gives you the ability to examine irregularities in your data without redoing your experiment. Computerized data can keep more than enough decimal places and significant figures, and is great for storing information. Keeping a spreadsheet with a year's results on it can make finding information much easier than thumbing though months of lab journals.

Cleaning Equipment

Most of the time, glassware can be cleaned with soap and warm water. If you are dealing with non-biological and non-toxic agents, you can even put your glassware in a standard dishwasher. However, dishwasher soap is more caustic than normal dishsoap, and any volume of markings on the glass may start to fade.

If you are using any kind of biological fluids or tissues in your laboratory, you must put your equipment though an autoclave machine before re-using it. An autoclave uses high pressure and heated steam to sterilize the glass, making it suitable for re-using. The heat and pressure of an autoclave is enough to kill viruses, bacteria and fungus spores.


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