An essential equipment item in many laboratories is a centrifuge. It is used in processes such as separation of red blood cells, DNA, cellular debris, and organelles. Lab managers need to keep in mind that there are numerous brands of centrifuges in the market and as a result, there are a number of consideration to ensure that you get the equipment that is fit for purpose. If you don’t know what to look for in a centrifuge, there is no need to worry. This article will go through some of the most crucial things to look out for when you are purchasing a centrifuge for your lab.
Types of centrifuges
Before you look at the specifications of the centrifuge, you need to understand the options available. As such, it is imperative that you select the type that works best with your routine procedures in the lab. Without further ado, let us get down to the types of centrifuges in the market
Floor standing centrifuge
If you carry out a large volume of tasks within your lab daily or your routine procedures require relatively high G-Force speeds, then a floor-standing centrifuge might be best suited for your needs. It is designed to handle a variety of protocols, including the unexpected ones. Additionally, floor standing centrifuges support many rotors, however, you must keep in mind that this type of centrifuge falls in the higher price range.
The Benchtop centrifuges are another common type of centrifuge. They are designed to handle some operations, although they cannot handle tasks that require high force as efficiently as the floor standing centrifuges. It is imperative that you pick one based on the requirements of your applications and tube sizing. Because their performance is lower than that of the floor standing models, their price is also slightly less.
Ultra-speed centrifuges are the fastest type there is in the market because they feature g-force speeds in excess of 100,000 x g. They support a variety of rotors to handle a wide range of applications. As such, you can use them to sample volumes of between 0.2 ml to 250 ml. You might consider this type if your lab procedures entail lipoprotein floatation, nanotech applications, size gradient separations, or DNA, protein or RNA fractionation.
Super speed centrifuge
The super speed centrifuges usually have an RCF of up to 70,000 x g, enabling them to handle a wide range of applications. They can be used to sample volume ranges from 1.5 ml to 1000 ml. Their size makes them quite versatile and they have a wide array of rotors. They are most suitable for cell separation, Golgi bodies’ isolations, tissue culture, plasmid preps, and DNA or RNA separations among others.
General purpose centrifuge
A general purpose centrifuge is often considered due to its versatility. They have an RCF range that is as high as 24,000 x g, and they deal with sample volume ranges from 0.2 ml – 50 ml. Besides being suitable for most applications, you can fit a general purpose centrifuge either on the floor or an open bench. They are suitable for cell harvesting, DNA or RNA research, protein work, and tissue culture.
Such a centrifuge is designed to handle low-speed applications. They are mostly used for the separation of whole cells as well as the whole cell harvest step. With an RCF of approximately 7,000 x g, these centrifuges are made to handle sample volumes ranging between 1.5 ml and 2,000 ml. If you customize yours with special rotors, you could use it for blood banking.
The centrifuges mentioned above are just some of those available in the market. There are other types as well, which include:
- High-speed benchtop centrifuge – 50,000 x g
- Micro-centrifuge – 21,000 x g
- Clinical centrifuge – 3,000 x g
- Call washer – 1,500 x g
Key considerations when buying a centrifuge
Here are some of the most important things to keep in mind when purchasing a centrifuge.
1. The G-Force
One of the most important things to consider when choosing a centrifuge is the G-Force. It is a critical factor that determines the applications that your centrifuge will manage to handle. Different centrifuges have different G-Force; therefore, you should select the one that matches your needs. G-Force is not to be confused with RPM, for more information, see Difference Between RCF and RPM in Centrifugation.
2. Maintenance reliability
When choosing a centrifuge, equipment maintenance is critical if you wish to prolong the equipment lifespan. This is because each equipment has a limited lifespan, and to ensure that it operates efficiently, you must carry out regular preventative maintenance. Some manufacturers recommend yearly servicing of your centrifuge. The maintenance tasks that must be carried out include checking the temperature, brushes, and speeds. We suggest that you engage professional to assess your centrifuge. It is also wise to settle with a supplier that offers customer support and warranties.
3. Replacement parts availability
Besides taking an insurance policy to safeguard your centrifuge, you should confirm the availability of replacement parts when you are making your purchase. You also want to assess how accessible these replacement parts are and how long they would take to arrive from time of order. This is especially critical when you are purchasing a second-hand device. It would be unwise to buy a device whose spare parts are unavailable! This also demands that you consider the equipment lifespan to ensure you get the best.
4. The size and capacity of the centrifuge
There is a wide array of centrifuges in the market each featuring a different capacity or size. You should review the equipment’s capacity as it determines the applications that it can handle. The capacity determines the total number of sample tubes that you can place in a centrifuge each time. As such, different centrifuges can handle different sample sizes.
Asset management in the lab goes hand in hand with asset tracking. It requires you to have the right equipment to handle your lab’s routine applications. Centrifuges are a commonly found item in many labs and this guide has listed some of the types and considerations to assist you when purchasing one.