Intro to the Laboratory Orbital Shaker
Laboratory supplies form an important part of Australia’s world-class pharmaceutical and clinical industries. In particular, laboratory orbital shakers are found in practically every type of laboratory – from educational, research, clinical and commercial lab settings – and across diverse fields such as medicine, biology and physics. But what are orbital shakers exactly and what are some of the important points you should know before using one? In this blog we will give you some important background and user tips for this important piece of equipment.
Orbital shakers move in a smooth circular motion at a low speed (15 to 500 rpm) suitable for culturing microbes, aerating samples, washing blots and general mixing. They can also produce more vigorous agitation, as required by your application.
Orbital shakers come in a wide range of sizes and styles to suit different different vessels. Orbital shakers may also be refrigerated or multi-level, depending on your laboratory needs. It’s not uncommon for a laboratory to have several different kinds of orbital shakers. Scientists and lab technicians will commonly also need orbital shakers with various diameters (turning circles) to work with sensitive cultures.
Additionally, you may also require a platform that comes with clamps or place holes, as well as not slip mats and laboratory tape, to ensure that samples remain stable and do not spill.
It is important that orbital shaker speeds and temperature ranges are accurate. Ideally, your orbital shaker also has a “smooth acceleration” feature, which builds up the speed gradually.
Of course, the manufacturer instructions and requirements associated with your sample and vessel should always be reviewed before using an orbital shaker. That said, there are some general rules of thumb that should be noted:
1. Choose a Smooth, Secure and Strong Surface
Orbital shakers can vibrate when in use and this is exacerbated by uneven surfaces. For this reason it is important to find a perfectly smooth counter to keep your orbital shaker on, as undue vibrating can interfere with the culturing of your samples.
You should also ensure that the surface is secure and strong enough to handle the orbital shaker’s weight.
2. Choose the Location for your Orbital Shaker Wisely
It is important to have adequate space around an orbital shaker in order to control operations, add and remove samples, and clean the components. You also do not want your orbital shaker to bump into anything or to be near any equipment that gives off unwanted heat, such as a freezer. You should also ensure your orbital shaker is not placed in the path of direct sunlight.
3. Load and Secure Samples with Great Care
By taking time to carefully load and secure samples, you can help extend the lifespan of your orbital shaker and vessels, which are prone to breaking if handled roughly. Similarly, care should be taken when removing samples from the platform.
4. Ensure the Platform Load is Even
Similar to ensuring the orbital shaker is placed on a smooth and straight surface, it is also important to make sure the platform is evenly loaded, as an imbalance of weight across the platform can cause irregular shaking. Uneven loads can also result in asymmetrical damage to the orbital shaker machinery.
5. Build Up Speeds Slowly
Fragile cells can be easily damaged by sudden movement, so it is important that your orbital shaker builds up speed slowly. Slow acceleration also ensures your samples are properly mixed.
Only the Best Laboratory Orbital Shakers
You can help ensure your laboratory orbital shaker runs smoothly and with precision by purchasing a high-quality machine. Second to this, it is also invaluable to be able to source all your orbital shaker parts in one place. Finally, it pays dividends to consider large capacity units. You will find all of this at Bioline Global.
If you would like to discuss our first-class orbital shakers, please get in touch.