Monthly Archives: February 2015

An Ode to Dedicated Lab Furniture and Why You’ve Got to Have It!

dedicated-lab-furniture-odeIt’s a world probably first appreciated the moment you saw your first high school or college chemistry classroom. Yes, the room was impressive to look at, but in that room you also learned the importance of all that special lab furniture and equipment. From the tall, stone-topped workstations where you conducted class experiments to the glass-fronted cabinets where equipment and materials were stored, those labs didn’t look like your typical classroom—but years later, it’s easy to forget the impressiveness and importance of dedicated laboratory furniture and equipment. Hopefully, this brief ode to what makes the furniture in your laboratory so special will bring back those early lessons.

Dedicated Lab Furniture Is Strong and Sturdy

While office computers might be getting smaller and lighter every year, research equipment doesn’t necessarily follow those trends. Rather than being focused on portability and convenience, mass spectrometers and HPLCs are created with an emphasis on performance and durability. This means that you need to think carefully before putting one of those large, heavy machines on a something not designed to support them.

Take HPLCs, for example. They’re being stacked so high (since lab space is at such a premium) that it’s impossible to work with them unless they can be lowered for access. We created the IonBench LC with this specific issue in mind. With the touch of a button, you can safely raise and lower your bench, allowing for easy access without the danger of an HPLC stack accidentally falling over on someone.

Liquid-handling robotics are another type of specialized equipment that can’t be placed on a standard desk or table. Not only are they large, heavy machines, but they often need to be moved around the lab. And with all of that movement during sample handling, conventional furniture can drift around, disturbing critical connections. This means that they must be properly placed on a solid piece of specially designed furniture that can be repositioned in the lab without anything falling off.

Specialized Lab Furniture Minimizes Errors

Lost alignment or falling objects aren’t the only issues that cause errors in a research lab. Think for a moment about the mass spectrometer in your lab. In addition to being large and heavy, it’s also noisy. If you don’t do something to mask the noise of the roughing pumps, you’re never going to hear anything your colleagues are saying (without them yelling, that is). With dedicated lab furniture, those pumps are hidden away within specially designed enclosures that both muffle the noise and vent the heat generated by their operation. You’re not going to find that in a standard cubicle desk!

Another way dedicated lab furniture assists you is by facilitating accurate measurements. Balances are required for measuring to a high level of accuracy, but they only work if you’ve got a minimum level of vibration. Standard office furniture isn’t designed with vibration issues in mind, but furniture designed specifically for lab settings is virtually vibration-proof. This also helps with microscopes, since it eliminates the subtle vibrations in your furniture that could cause distorted images while working at high magnification.

Dedicated Lab Furniture Contributes to Lab Safety

Dangerous and toxic substances are stored in labs all the time, and they certainly can’t just be thrown into the drawer of an office desk. Well-constructed chemical cabinets are designed specifically with these substances in mind. They typically feature fire-retardant materials, ventilation systems, and additional safeguards to prevent or minimize lab safety issues like spills or accidental exposure.

It’s clear that laboratories require special furniture of many types, and certain pieces of equipment need dedicated lab furniture as well. Don’t overlook all the logistical and safety needs of your lab—contact us today to learn more about our line of dedicated lab furniture for mass spectrometers and HPLCs.

Safely Quieting Mass Spectrometer Vacuum Pumps

safely-quiet-vacuum-pumpsOne of the most difficult items in a lab to quiet is a vacuum pump. You just can’t wrap one of these units in foam. One, it’s not going to get much quieter, and two, the foam might melt, catch fire, and the entire machine—even your lab—might be lost.

This is why it’s so important to always use quality, dedicated laboratory furniture for housing your MS. While the noise can prevent safe conversations and cause hearing loss, as we’ve explained in earlier blogs, mass spectrometer vacuum pumps don’t have to be a safety hazard in your lab. Just as your MS is the solution to many research dilemmas, the IonBenchMS is the solution for safely keeping vacuum pump noise in check.

More than Just Insulation

Quieting a vacuum pump involves more than a quick trip to the hardware store, or stealing the nice quilted insulation from around the dishwasher in a home kitchen. Even if it was possible to make the vacuum pump quieter with a home fix-it remedy, there would still be no easy way to access it for servicing.

And service it will need. You have to check the oil levels regularly, and from time to time you’ll need to change the oil as well.

Besides, a vacuum pump also requires air space around it and proper ventilation.—not just for the prevention of fires, but because the pump won’t function properly if it’s too hot.

Dedicated Mass Spectrometer Laboratory Furniture

This is why well-thought-out dedicated lab furniture like the IonBench solves the vacuum pump noise problem so efficiently. By isolating the vacuum pump within a well-integrated, well-insulated enclosure, we make certain the pump is operating properly while still keeping noise to a minimum.

The IonBenchMS has a mass spectrometer vacuum pump enclosure made with fire resistant foam and other materials that can withstand temperatures of up to 40 degrees centigrade. These materials are also oil resistant, ensuring that cleanup will be easier if there’s a spill when you’re checking or replacing your oil.

The enclosure contains enough access ports, channels, and slots for all the power cords, connections, and hoses that come with operating a mass spec. And since ventilation is critical for safe operation, the IonBench’s ventilation design regulates air flow around the vacuum pump, removing hot air and keeping the pump operating at a nominal temperature.

One Additional Safety Measure

In addition to ensuring the proper ventilation, using the correct materials, and providing convenient access for all the hoses, connections, and cables researchers will inevitably need, we’ve also added a failsafe feature to our dedicated MS laboratory furniture.

It’s a sensor that indicates when the temperature within the enclosure, for any type of reason, reaches the failure temperature of the vacuum pump. When that critical point is reached, the lab bench will set off an alarm, alerting technicians to a problem long before the research—or the machine itself—is lost.

So treat your mass spectrometer right. Contact us today for more information and answers to your questions about how dedicated lab furniture can reduce noise and improve safety and reliability in your laboratory.

The Many Ways the Mass Spectrometer Affects Our Lives

mass-spectrometer-societyMass spectrometry impacts our lives daily, even though the average person probably isn’t aware of its impact. Starting with the mass spectrometer’s pivotal role in the discovery of isotopes, which led to the success of the Manhattan Project, its use has mushroomed over the decades, until it now plays a role in many areas that touch our lives every day.

The Expansion of Mass Spectrometry’s Role in Society

As most scientists know, the mass spectrometer held a key role in harnessing the energy released when uranium nuclei were first split. It helped answer critical questions, including what isotope was responsible for fission and whether that energy could be harnessed. Alfred Nier used the MS to answer those questions, paving the way for our nuclear age.

Since then, uses for the mass spectrometer have proliferated. They are used today in food analysis for assessing nutritional value, as well as for helping to detect potentially harmful components that might have been added to food through manufacturing or processing. Research into air pollution and climate change involves the use of literally hundreds of mass spectrometers, and they are also used for the detection of hazardous or illegal substances in water and soil.

Exciting Mass Spectrometer Research

Mass specs are now being used in the biomedical field in innovative new ways, such as in conjunction with biomarkers in some of the newest cancer research. Tracking indicators now allows researchers to detect and treat cancer in its early stages, before it becomes a debilitating disease. Hospitals are also now using mass spectrometers to screen newborns’ urine and blood for pandemic or systemic diseases that can be treated very early in life. In this way, these babies may potentially avoid certain difficult ongoing diseases as they get older.

Of course, as popularized on television, the mass spectrometer plays a key role in forensics. Here, state police investigators look for trace components that might indicate the presence or identity of a suspect at a crime scene. They can also measure for toxicity levels, which can help to clarify whether victims of unfortunate accidents had drugs or alcohol in their system that could have precipitated the event.

Mass specs are also used by local communities for water treatment and assessment, especially with drinking water. In some cases, they are also used for water reclamation, to make sure that what they’re putting back into the region’s water supply is environmentally safe. Larger municipalities even own a few mass specs for these purposes. For example, Chicago has been a leader in this field of water testing going all the way back to the cholera epidemic that followed the city’s great fire in 1871.

Meeting the Needs of Specific Mass Specs

Bottom line, each of these fields, and many others, have designed specific mass spectrometers to meet their exact needs. That means there are a variety of configurations, weights, and requirements for supporting these machines in the research lab.

And this is why IonBench is so helpful. With our ability to customize our lab benches to meet your particular needs, you can be assured that your MS will perform safely and accurately, while shielding lab techs from dangerous noise levels.

To learn more about why a dedicated lab bench is worth the investment, contact us today.