Monthly Archives: April 2015

Dedicated Lab Furniture for All Those Mass Spec Choices

dedicated-lab-furniture-optionsThe research world has come a long way since the huge mass spectrometers that were used in the Manhattan Project and other early programs. Mass specs back then could be as large as one of today’s research labs, and while they’re certainly smaller now, they are just as varied in size, shape, weight, and other specifications. This variety presents a problem when it comes to determining the right dedicated lab furniture to purchase for your new MS. Which is why we here at IonBench pride ourselves in being able to customize our lab furniture to meet the needs of any MS currently on the market.

Mass specs Aren’t Light

Take, for example, the Thermo Scientific Q Exactive™ Hybrid Quadrupole-Orbitrap mass spectrometer. This baby weighs in at a daunting 401 pounds without its forevacuum pump, which adds another 136 pounds to the equation. Any standard, mass-produced office table cannot support almost 550 pounds of instrumentation without cracking under the strain. We, however, design dedicated lab furniture with the hefty needs of mass specs firmly in mind. Not only can our lab bench stand up to the strain, it can even travel around the lab on its sturdy, lockable casters.

Mass Specs are Part of a Larger System

Mass specs may create a vacuum, but they don’t operate in one. The TSQ Quantum XLS Ultra needs to hang out with its floor-standing forepump, minitower computer, and monitor, each of which needs room on, or nearby, your lab furniture. The total space needed? A sizable 2.5 square meters of precious workbench real estate. Standard tables just aren’t that large, but we specifically design our lab benches with PC mounts and support arms for flat-screen monitors so that your integrated MS system actually remains integrated.

Mass Specs Sometimes Need Assistance

Many mass specs come with dedicated peripherals that automate the process. For example, the Agilent 8800 Triple Quadrupole ICP-MS has a specially designed integrated autosampler that allows 89 vials to be sampled without human intervention. For higher-volume work, a random-access intelligent autosampler with up to 360 vial positions can be employed. While these accessories may save you time, they also take up space. We’ve designed our dedicated lab furniture to accommodate a variety of samplers, and we’ll customize any lab bench for your particular layout.

Mass Specs Need Care and Attention

Any mass spec must be cleaned on a regular basis to prevent instrument contamination. For example, the compact, boxy Sciex QTRAP 5500 requires regular cleaning of its curtain plate, orifice plate, QJet® ion guide (which includes the IQ0 lens, or skimmer), and Q0 rod set. If you’ve boxed in your MS on the back of a standard table, you may not be able to easily reach and clean all these items. When you use our dedicated lab furniture, you know your MS will be easily accessible for cleaning.

Every Mass Spec Needs Dedicated Lab Furniture

These are just a few examples of the issues you must address when setting up a mass spectrometer in your lab. Below are some additional MS models that you might be using:

Contact us today to find out how we’ve customized our lab benches to meet the needs of each of these mass specs, or to find out how dedicated lab furniture can increase safety and reliability in your laboratory.

Bean Counting and Dedicated Lab Furniture

bean-counting-dedicated-lab-furnitureWhen it comes to outfitting a research lab, chances are high that the bean counters in your company or institution do not appreciate the expense involved. Naturally, this leads to a lot of explanations from senior researchers regarding proper instrumentation, and a lot of push-back on the part of said bean counters. By the time you’ve dealt with the cost of equipment like mass spectrometers, HPLC systems and liquid chromatographs, you’re probably ready to give in when it’s time to choose lab furniture and simply let them order something from a supply store catalog.

But allowing equipment to be supported by furniture not designed specifically for the instrument it supports would be a big mistake. There are a number of misunderstandings when it comes to the true cost of cutting corners. The fact of the matter is, when it comes to protecting the significant investment you’re making to outfit your research lab with the latest equipment, dedicated lab furniture is the best solution.

Misconception #1: Dedicated Lab Furniture Is Multipurpose

Increasingly, labs are being outfitted with “general purpose” in mind, rather than the specific purposes needed at any given moment. Unfortunately, if you buy three “general” lab benches, you are likely to discover that none of them can safely support your equipment without modifications.

When you have to move cabinets or lower benches, you’re adding expensive modifications that make the end result more costly than if you’d purchased specifically designed dedicated lab furniture in the first place.

Misconception #2: Dedicated Lab Furniture Isn’t Easy to Move

Just because you’ve invested in a custom lab bench that’s sturdy enough to support your MS and peripherals doesn’t mean that you can’t rearrange your lab to improve workflow.

Our dedicated lab furniture comes with sturdy, lockable casters that allow you to move your equipment around the lab as your needs change, without sacrificing the safety and security of a strongly built lab bench to support your equipment.

Misconception #3: Dedicated Lab Furniture is Not Worth the Extra Money

Can you easily and safely reach the top of your HPLC stack? If not, you’ve got an accident waiting to happen when you lose your balance at the end of a long day in the lab.

Can you hear your lab assistant when she asks you a question as your MS vacuum pump is hammering away at your feet? If not, you’re likely to misunderstand her and perhaps give her an erroneous response that could ruin an experiment or even cause a workplace accident.

Dedicated lab furniture easily addresses the specific issues that come with HPLCs and mass specs. Being able to work safely and efficiently is always worth the extra money.

Misconception #4: Any Furniture Can Support My Equipment

Imagine this: You’ve got the latest and greatest balances, but you’ve placed them on a standard worktable that you let the bean counters talk you into purchasing. You’ve just about got a measurement perfect when your lab tech walks by and the worktable vibrates. Now you’ve got to wait for the balances to settle again — wasting valuable time — and hope that no one else walks by until you’ve finished. You can’t exactly tell everyone in the lab that they can’t move until you’ve got your measurements complete, can you?

This is only one of the reasons why dedicated lab furniture is worth the investment. When it comes to outfitting your lab, you don’t want to take any shortcuts when choosing between lab benches, whether they’re supporting mass specs, ultrasonic baths, scales, or other specialized types of equipment.

When you invest in the best, you will always come out ahead, so contact us today to learn more about our dedicated lab furniture for mass specs and HPLCs.

Hair Loss and Lab Safety

hair-loss-lab-safetyWe’ve all heard the jokes and teasing that goes on about hair loss, especially for men “above a certain age.” For many people, losing their hair is a significant issue — but what does it have to do with lab safety? Well, the hair loss we’re talking about doesn’t occur on the top of one’s head. And it’s hair loss that our culture is not paying nearly the same amount of attention to it as that other hair-loss epidemic. Yet according to government statistics, half of people over the age of 75, and nearly a quarter of the U.S. population over 65, are categorized as “disabled” by this other hair loss. And it’s not just older people being affected: Every year, as many as 20,000 people are disabled by hair loss occurring at the workplace.

The Connection between Hair and Hear

So what is this hair loss that is disabling so many people? The hairs that are being lost are the tiny, very fine hairs that line the cochlea, or inner ear. These microscopic hairs move with vibrations received by the outer ear and transmitted to the inner ear, converting sound waves into nerve impulses. Without these hairs, we cannot hear.

And while science has devoted a good deal of research funding attempting to figure out how hair can be transplanted onto balding scalps, amazingly we have yet to come up with a workable solution for replacing the microscopic hairs that allow us to hear.

How Do These Hairs Die?

The greatest culprit for hearing loss is prolonged exposure to loud noises. Research has shown that prolonged noise above a certain decibel level will destroy the hair follicles in the fine nerve cells of the inner ear.

That said, if you are exposed to short bursts of loud sounds, such as gunfire or a fireworks display, the hair follicles in your ears will recover if given sufficient time. That’s why some professionals advise taking a “noise diet” after such exposure, in order to give your ears time to recuperate.

However, if you are exposed to loud noises on a daily basis, such as at work, your ears won’t have sufficient recovery time. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration states that the permitted exposure limit for noise over the course of an eight-hour workday is a weighted decibel average (dbA) of 90 dbA (although the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommends 85 dbA). And for every 5 dbA increase in noise, OSHA recommends that you cut the exposure time in half.

The good news—in a sense—is that this means if you were exposed for the entirety of your eight-hour work shift to the sound of a heavy truck going by 45 feet away, your hearing would be OK. But if you had to listen to a jackhammer that was 45 feet away, you could only be exposed for four hours. And if you’re the one stuck with operating the jackhammer? Well, please send our condolences to your cochlear hair follicles.

Where Does This Hair—and Hearing—Loss Happen?

Once upon a time, most hearing loss occurred at work. Exposure to noisy jobs, such as factory work, construction, or road building, was the most frequent cause of hearing loss.

The good news is that with better health and safety regulations, working in a noisy industry is no longer a ticket to deafness, and lab safety in a noisy work environment is not impossible. If you follow the rules and wear good ear protection, those tiny hairs in your ears can survive.

Unfortunately, work isn’t presenting the only hazard to our ears these days. Personal MP3 players, concerts, noisy clubs, and well-equipped car stereo systems are now causing much of the damage to cochlear hair follicles. This means that the hearing loss trend is increasingly impacting younger people.

Lab Safety and Hearing Loss

Now, let’s get personal. You’re probably reading this blog because you work in a research lab, or are responsible for people who do.

As you know, mass spectrometer vacuum pumps, fume hood blowers, fridge and freezer compressors, and cooling fans all contribute to the noise level in a lab. By minimizing that aggregate noise level, you’ll actually be able to enhance lab safety for workers.

This is where dedicated lab furniture can help. Our mass spec IonBench, for example, cuts a guaranteed 15 dbA from vacuum pump noise, meaning that your lab techs can literally work all day without endangering their cochlear hair follicles.

Contact us today to learn more about how IonBench can promote lab safety—and hearing—of your entire team.