Lab Safety and MS Sensitivity Leap Forward with TENGs

ElectricityOver its 130-year history, the mass spectrometer has undergone multiple technological advances. During that time, however, the power source has remained direct current—which has certain limiting factors. As you likely know, it’s typically impossible to control the number of charges in the ionization process. The number of generated ions also cannot be reliably correlated with the applied voltage.

A Revolutionary Power Source

Now, however, researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology have broken through this power source limitation with the introduction of TENGs, or triboelectric nanogenerators. TENGs utilize oscillating high voltage and controlled current, thus having the capacity to improve the ionization process by increasing voltage without sample damage.

TENGs use friction to generate static electricity. By rubbing together one material that sheds electrons (such as nylon or glass) and a second material that naturally absorbs electrons (such as Teflon or silicon), TENGs power small, efficient electronic devices. This simple conversion of mechanical energy from friction to electricity has the capacity to transform much of mass spectrometry.

Micro-Power Makes a Macro-Difference

Why can TENGs make such a difference in mass spectrometry? A fixed input charge is the answer. Regardless of current or voltage, the mass spec can analyze much smaller samples at even higher sensitivities—down to 100 molecules. A fixed number of charges also allows for previously impossible control over the generation of ions—which enables the MS to work with much greater efficiency. Molecule charge can be controlled for every cycle, regardless of the TENG’s speed.

A leap in voltage is another consequence of using TENGs. Standard MS ionizers operate at less than 1,500 volts while TENGs can generate as much as 8,000 volts. This allows for much smaller sample sizes—a “completely different electrospray regime,” according to Professor Facundo Fernández of Georgia Tech.

Generating Leaps in Lab Safety and Portability

In addition to added sensitivity and the ability to use smaller sample sizes, TENGs also revolutionize the power equation. They eliminate the need for high-voltage power supplies (despite generating many more volts!). Removing such power sources from your lab will both increase lab safety and dramatically decrease your lab’s energy costs.

The benefits of mass spec miniaturization are countless. Without the need for high-voltage power supplies these nanogenerators have an increased potential for portability, making it easier to take mass specs into the field. Being able to analyze samples at the scene, especially in extreme, harsh environments, can both speed up time-sensitive processes and increase project efficiency.

We’re thrilled to see that mass specs continue to evolve and we’re here to help you to keep up with the many improvements happening in the field. Each new generation of mass spectrometer should be supported with dedicated lab furniture. It’s an investment that keeps lab safety at the forefront while crafting customizable lab benches that can meet the needs of every mass spec, researcher or technician. Contact us today to discuss your lab’s furniture needs and to learn more about our commitment to lab safety.

Reasons Why Lab Noise Reduction is a Health and Safety Matter

yawnOne of our important lab safety mantras is that high noise levels in the lab can both contribute to lab safety accidents and undermine employee health.

Noisy work environments lead to increased stress levels, breakdowns in communication, and even negative impacts on cognition. If you want to promote employee health and safety, lab noise reduction is a good direction to follow.

Health Risks Associated with Workplace Noise

By now, we all know that high levels of noise have a detrimental effect on hearing—and while the noise in your lab might not be bad enough to cause hearing loss, there are other adverse health effects. For example, a study published several years ago linked noise pollution to heart disease. The researchers specifically noted increases in coronary disease and hypertension as a result of chronic exposure to higher noise levels.

Furthermore, the body responds to increased noise by releasing various stress-related hormones: cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. These are proven contributors to hypertension, stroke, heart failure, and immune deficiencies. In addition to harming your lab techs, all of these employee health issues can also lead to increased sick time taken and decreased productivity in the lab.

Lab Noise Reduction Also Prevents Lab Accidents

The masking nature of noise is such that even when it’s reduced to 55 dBA (learn more about decibels here), it can still prevent you and your colleagues from understanding each other’s verbal direction. This miscommunication contributes to a greater risk for lab incidents and accidents. At least for the time being, labs don’t come with subtitles, and a misheard instruction can be deadly—especially when working with hazardous materials.

Even workers’ ability to comprehend and process daily tasks can be compromised by excessive noise. The authors of this article, the Auditory and non-auditory effects of noise on health, point out that studies examining road traffic and airport noise suggest high noise levels have a negative impact on cognition. The authors also mention that studies “have shown that reductions in noise exposure…are associated with improvements in cognition…” In fact, The World Health Organization Noise Guidelines suggest that background levels should not exceed 35 dbA during children’s school lessons because it limits their cognitive abilities.

Simply taking steps to reduce the noise in your lab could improve lab personnel’s ability to process information and do their job safely and efficiently.

Using Dedicated Lab Furniture for Lab Noise Reduction

One of the most effective methods of lab noise reduction is the introduction of IonBench dedicated lab furniture into your facility. One primary lab noise culprit is your mass spec vacuum pumps, and our dedicated lab furniture is designed to sequester those vacuum pump sounds within specially designed cabinets. We’re so certain of the success of our IonBench MS that we guarantee a lab noise reduction of 15 dBA from those pumps. This translates into a health-risk decrease of 10-15%.

So, taking all this information into consideration, don’t you think it would be wise to protect your employees from both the direct and indirect health hazards of excessive noise? Easy and obvious solutions are available with the IonBench MS. Request a quote from us today to learn more.


Lab Working Conditions and the Hawthorne Effect

InvestTrying to figure out the exact equation for what will make your lab environment the safest it can be, while maintaining productivity and team morale can be a real challenge.

Investing in quality, dedicated lab furniture helps to improve lab working conditions in multiple ways. First, our IonBenches are specifically designed to meet the safety and organizational needs of the modern laboratory environment. Second, simply taking the steps to improve the working conditions of your lab will be noticed by personnel, causing morale to skyrocket. Rest assured productivity will follow suit.

The second point is supported by a curious cause and effect—better known as The Hawthorne Effect.

The Hawthorne Effect

This fascinating phenomenon was first discovered by researchers at the Hawthorne Works in Cicero, Illinois in the early twentieth century. Researchers were seeking to discover if changes in lighting, working hours, break times, etc. would make a difference in employee productivity at the Hawthorne plant. What they found was that both morale and productivity improved over the course of the study, but returned to their original levels once the study was over.

Researchers concluded that the employees responded to the observation by increasing their productivity. What’s more, morale increased because workers realized management was expressing concern about their working conditions. The Hawthorne Effect has been replicated in a variety of studies since then. It occurs when employees feel that their needs are being addressed.

Involving Lab Personnel in Assessing Lab Working Conditions

While we firmly believe that improvements in lab safety do make a difference, it’s also true that simply taking steps to improve lab working conditions can have positive effects as personnel recognizes interest is being taken in their wellbeing.

What does this mean for lab management? It doesn’t mean you should frequently run lighting or temperature experiments—that could be disastrous. Instead, we believe it means involving lab personnel in discussions about how to provide the safest and most efficient work environment.

Ask staff about what changes could improve their day-to-day operations and you might be surprised by their responses. You might even bring about the Hawthorne Effect.

Some suggestions that we have for improving lab working conditions include the following:

These are just a few starters. We imagine your lab personnel will have more suggestions. When you take their suggestions seriously and follow through, you will gain employee loyalty as well as increased productivity and morale.

Show your techs you care about making their lives easier by taking steps toward improving safety and organization in your lab. If dedicated lab furniture is in order, contact us today to learn more.

A Mass Spec User’s Guide to Pittcon 2017

LearnedThis year’s Pittcon, in Chicago IL, looks to be every bit as successful and informative as last year’s. With hundreds of experts gathered to share innovative news about biospectroscopy, liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry and more, the event is always an amazing opportunity for folks in the lab industry to step up their game and find solutions for all their lab challenges. Needless to say, we’re thrilled to be attending.

As a reader of this blog, you know we believe a safe lab environment increases productivity—and being informed is the best way to maintain that safe environment. That’s why we’re constantly trying to educate ourselves and our clients on the latest lab and mass spec technology. And Pittcon, besides being a great meeting of the minds, has tons of educational opportunities to offer. We’ve put together some highlights below.

Pittcon’s Greatest Mass Spec Offerings

  • 100 skill-building short courses – These courses are available to help you brush up in your areas of expertise. There are many categories to choose from—but here’s a few that we think are most beneficial:
  • Analytical Organic Mass Spectrometry
  • Highly Successful Strategies for LC/MS Quantitation: Current Applications and Emerging Technologies
  • An Introduction to Mass Spectrometry including Biomolecule Applications
  • Live Expo Demos – These 20-minute sessions feature new product demonstrations by leading companies—a perfect way to learn about innovative solutions to your unique lab challenges. It’s also a rare chance to engage in real time conversation with industry experts. Check out the complete live expo schedule to see what’s being shared.
  • The Magnificent Mile – In between live expos and workshops, make your way to The Magnificent Mile to unwind. No, we’re not talking about the famous Chicago shopping district, this one is in the middle of the exposition floor. It’s a great place to grab a bite to eat or even a relaxing massage. Here, attendees are finding tons of interactive displays that will engage the senses and stimulate the mind. Check out the Giant iPad, the Lab Gauntlet challenge, LEGO® Gravity Car racing and more!

Share Your Experiences!

We’re having a great time learning about all the new instrumentation, data management, lab equipment and research the leaders in the lab community have had up their sleeves. And we want to hear from you about what products or research you’re finding to be most intriguing at this year’s Pittcon.

Get in touch with us and let us know about any cool new mass spectrometry products or technology you’ve come across this year. And if you’re contemplating investing in a new piece of equipment, we’ll gladly help you select the right kind of dedicated lab furniture to help preserve and protect it.

Lab Organization Matters: Use Our Clutter Reduction Checklist

OrganizationHave you given any thought to the cost of disorganization in your lab? Whether it’s wasted time, duplicate orders, or lab safety accidents waiting to happen (see our previous post for a couple of examples), there are many reasons why lab organization matters. We’ve compiled a handy clutter reduction checklist to help battle the disorganization that could be costing you time, money and peace of mind.

✔ A Place for Everything and Everything in Its Place

Every tool in your lab needs a home regardless of whether it’s big or small. Smaller tools like pipettes and slides need a safe place to reside when they aren’t being used. Likewise, larger equipment, like mass spectrometers, need to be safely housed on a strong piece of dedicated lab furniture to keep them safe and sound.

✔  Document and communicate proper storage areas

 All lab personnel should know where everything belongs—this means having a designated and documented (keep a binder handy!) place for all items. It would be wise to put a specific person in charge of keeping this information up to date and checking regularly to ensure that all lab personnel know how to access it.

✔  Make Definitive Decisions About Grouping Items

There should also be order to your lab organization decision-making. You wouldn’t want to store reactive items next to each other, lest you cause an accidental conflagration. You also don’t want to store objects that are used together on opposite sides of the lab, so people must constantly walk back and forth across others’ work areas.

✔  Group like with like: Think about the attributes of each item you’re seeking to store, and group like things together. This means keeping flammable items together in a heat-resistant cabinet, away from warmer areas of the lab or lab benches where open flames are used. Keeping similar solutions together will also prevent lab safety accidents.

✔  A Label for Everything

Labels are the key to successful lab organization. If you’re not sure what’s stored inside a certain group of frost-covered tubes in the back of the freezer, you’ve got a potential disaster on your hands—or at least a severe setback in the progress of your colleague’s research when you prematurely thaw the tube rack to figure out what’s inside.

✔  Use the proper types of labels: Labels also must be appropriate to the containers and the conditions. That freezer requires moisture-proof labeling, and you might consider luggage tags for each shelf; they won’t get buried under the frost. Label both the spaces and the containers; it will help reinforce the connection between the two for distracted lab techs who have happy hour on their minds as they’re finishing up.

✔  Clean Early and Often to Ensure Lab Safety

When a spill occurs, clean it up, thoroughly and immediately. Vapors travel, liquids can contaminate notebooks (think about how much your data is worth!) and destroy electronics, and powders can become airborne. It can be tempting to continue with your procedure and clean the mess up later, but lab safety common sense requires keeping your work station and lab bench crystal clean.

✔  Establish routine cleaning processes: Routinely cleaning everything at the end of each shift, or before beginning a new project will pay off for everyone. While you might be running late to for family dinner, your morning crew will not be happy to discover that contamination happened overnight because someone left a pile of Petri dishes knocked over on the floor.

✔  Let Your Lab Bench Assist with Lab Organization

One of the best tools for lab organization is your lab bench itself. We have given a lot of thought to how we have constructed our IonBenches. For example, our IonBench MS provides easy management of cables and pipes, designated space for solvent storage, and optional drawer bank and waste storage accessories. Let us help you keep the clutter in check. Request a quote today to learn more about IonBench.

Organization is the Key to a Safe (and Productive) Lab

Lab ShelvesIt’s common medical knowledge that our brains naturally forget. Studies have shown, for example, that when we listen to a presentation, we’ve already forgotten 40% of the information by the end of the lecture, and by the end of the week, we’ve forgotten 90% of it. This is one reason that we keep returning to the topic of lab safety. Forgetting to focus on lab safety can have potentially disastrous consequences.

Safety begins with organization—and that doesn’t just mean keeping all your test tubes in straight rows. Good organization requires regular record keeping, communication, proper labeling practices, routine cleaning and more. Here are two such examples that will connect the importance of organization to the safety of your lab.

Organized Means Labeled

Our first example takes place in a mechanical engineering research lab, where spontaneous combustion was the unfortunate result of improperly labeled nanomaterials. These particular internally produced aluminum nanoparticles had not been oxidized. The lab techs involved were used to working with commercially produced nanoparticles that were oxidized as part of the production process. Unfortunately, the internally produced nanoparticles were only labeled as “Aluminum Nanopowder,” giving techs no clue as to their potential flammability.

Furthermore, appropriate fire suppression materials were not on hand for addressing a metals fire. When the available “ABC” fire extinguisher had no effect on the fire, lab techs used their own coats to smother the flames—but not before one tech’s pants were burnt. Had there been an organized lab safety plan in place, sand would have been readily available and the techs would have known to use this to suppress the metals fire.

Compounding the problem—and the lab safety investigation—was the fact that the internally manufactured nanoparticles had not recently been produced, and the tech who produced them was no longer employed by the university at the time of the fire.

This is a classic example of what can go wrong when the chain of communication breaks down. Essentially, poor communication led to poor record keeping, which led to sloppy and improper labeling. There was no way for anyone to know whether the nanoparticles were oxidized prior to use. This proved even more costly when the university was forced to dispose of the entire stock of internally produced nanoparticles.

Organized Means Following Protocol

In another example, a student was splashed while washing materials in a nitric acid bath. Nitric acid entered the student’s eye because the student was not wearing eye protection. Fortunately, the victim immediately flushed the eye, twice, and no permanent damage resulted.

While there was no permanent harm, this lab safety incident cost the university time and money, with a trip to the hospital, incident procedures to follow and a lab safety investigation to undertake. If the student had simply followed an organized set of lab safety procedures, this event would not have taken place.

Organized Means Dedicated Lab Furniture

We understand the power of organization and its role in supporting lab safety. We share these lab-incident stories in the hopes that our lab safety posts will be part of the 10% of information that remains in your head by the end of the week. Complete organization is achieved through a variety of practices and habits, but we support lab safety culture in our own way—with the thoughtful construction of IonBenches, which incorporate several organizational aspects into their design.

To learn more about how our organization capacities can enhance your lab safety, contact us today.

Learning to Love Your Lab Safety Officer: Why Bother?

LSOLab safety officers – love them or hate them, you must respect the critical tasks they are charged with accomplishing. His or her most basic responsibility is for the safety of the lab, ensuring compliance with federal and state regulations dealing with technical subjects. The lab safety officer has an important role in training lab personnel to meet occupational safety and health standards. They also serve as a liaison between the lab and EH&S, to make sure the lab is in compliance, maintaining safety and regulatory information, including Material Safety Data Sheets. If there’s a question about regulatory information, the lab safety officer gets that information from EH&S. He or she has other functions, but these are some of the most significant.

Lab Safety Regulations Aren’t Just Nagging

When you see the job of the lab safety officer described in print, it’s easy to understand the importance of it. Day to day, however, the reality can be different. The lab safety officer is often an unpopular person around the facility, like a substitute teacher who stays all year. There’s a perception that the officer’s strict focus on safety regulations and paperwork get in the way of research progress. Lab safety officers can be especially disliked in industrial labs, where regulation is very strict.

In academic labs, the lab safety officer’s role is often taken less seriously because academic labs are not so strictly regulated. Unfortunately, 2016 brought plenty of evidence that lab safety should be a greater concern in academic labs. Serious accidents at the University of Hawaii-Manoa and Dickinson State University in North Dakota demonstrate the value of stricter safety standards in academic labs. It’s likely that the people involved in both these accidents believed they were safe enough, but as it turned out, they were not. The Hawaii incident, in particular, revealed systemic safety failures in the lab that had gone on for a long time.

Create a Culture of Lab Safety

Researchers are focused on results, and it’s understandable that they might view the lab safety officer’s efforts as nagging that gets in the way of achieving those results. But we’ve said it before: Lab safety should be embraced by everyone who works in your lab.

Create a culture of safety starting at the very top of the lab hierarchy that reaches down to the most junior member of the team. Getting past any adversarial relationships between the lab safety officer and members of your team is the first step. The lab safety officer really doesn’t want to interfere—he or she wants you and your people to maintain safe practices and a safe lab environment so you can achieve your research goals. Take their recommended steps, whether it’s wearing proper safety equipment every time or eliminating clutter down to the last scrap.

Another contributor to improved lab safety is IonBench dedicated laboratory furniture, which can alleviate several potential safety concerns, like noise and the heavy lifting of weighty mass spectrometers and HPLCs. Contact us to learn how our lab furniture can add an extra level of safety to your laboratory.

Committing to Lab Safety Culture, from the Top Down

Top DownA few weeks ago, we read a very thought-provoking American Chemical Society editorial by Carolyn Bertozzi. The ACS aims to “be the world’s most trusted source of the comprehensive knowledge needed to cultivate the chemists of tomorrow” and we think that articles like Bertozzi’s certainly pave the way toward that goal.

What resonated most with us about this editorial, is the focus on how lab safety culture needs to be embraced and enforced from the top down.

Focusing Beyond the Accident Spotlight

As Bertozzi outlines, 2016 saw too many serious laboratory accidents. From China to Germany, North Dakota to Texas, researchers and students have been killed or injured in a variety of explosions that have been costly on too many levels. April was a particularly deadly month, with 42 people killed and 147 injured because of a massive fire at Jubail United Petrochemical in Saudi Arabia and an explosion at a Pemex vinyl chloride plant in Mexico.

The ACS editorial quickly moves beyond the headlines, however, to ask serious questions about how researchers can focus more purposefully on lab safety practices. Focusing on academic institutions, it lays out some ideas that are critical for safety in any research lab, no matter the industry or circumstance.

Implementing a Lab Safety Culture

The article suggests that the needed “ingredients for a positive safety culture” is a top-down commitment to lab safety. Bertozzi quotes George Whitmyre, a retired lab safety specialist, who says that “laboratory safety programs only work when [there is] serious commitments from Regents, Presidents, CEOs, upper management, and even PIs.”

Various steps are suggested that leaders can take to embrace and enforce a lab safety culture. These include:

  • Reading MSD sheets prior to setting up any experiment
  • Discussing specific safety elements with everyone involved and assessing the potential risks of each experiment
  • Consulting with health and safety experts whenever a doubt or question arises
  • Reviewing procedures (what to do, whom to notify) in case an accident occurs
  • Wearing personal protective equipment
  • Never working alone in any research lab

Making Lab Safety Everyone’s Responsibility

PIs do have a lot of responsibility when it comes to creating and implementing a lab safety culture, but they are not the only ones. Lab safety needs to be everyone’s responsibility in order to prevent the types of horrific accidents that occurred last year. Regardless of where you fall in the organizational structure, lab safety is your responsibility.

Here are some ways that Bertozzi believes this can be accomplished:

  • Publicly prioritize safety
  • Never condone lax or unsafe practices
  • Start every meeting with a “Safety Minute” that includes both news on accidents and information on new safety ideas
  • Teach how to implement Integrated Safety Management
  • Employ highly skilled EH&S personnel and encourage them to interact collaboratively with lab personnel
  • Accept responsibility for systemic failures
  • If you work in an academic setting, where you are training the next generation of researchers, hold hands-on sessions to introduce lab safety techniques

Leverage Your Position

Regardless of your place in the hierarchy of your lab, it’s up to you to do whatever is in your power to make decisions that will contribute to strengthening the culture of safety. If you write the schedules, take the necessary steps to ensure no one is ever in the lab alone. If you stock the supplies, make sure there is never a shortage of personal safety equipment.

Naturally, we would add one thing to Bertozzi’s list:

  • Furnish your lab with dedicated lab furniture

If you’re the person who furnishes the lab, making informed decisions about the quality and safety of the dedicated lab furniture you purchase can go a long way in protecting the life of your instruments as well as the lives of those working in your lab.

Get in touch with us today to learn more—because in order for Bertozzi’s ideas to work, everyone needs to take ownership.

Celebrating 2016’s Mass Spectrometry Life Sciences Breakthroughs

possibleFolks in scientific communities around the world are looking ahead to the challenges and eventual breakthroughs that await them this year. But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, we’d like to look back and celebrate the achievements of the previous year. We know that our dedicated lab furniture supported (literally!) thousands of different mass spectrometry projects in 2016.

Here are some prolific life sciences breakthroughs that occurred last year with the help of mass spec technology:

Bio-printed Kidney Tissue Avoids Renal Toxicity

3D printing continues to transform lives across the globe in a magnificent variety of ways. In 2016, Organovo bio-printed synthetic human tissue that can model complex organ toxicity. This allows for more accurate drug-response testing without the variations that occur with species-species variations or limited kidney functionality. The native human structure provides optimal transporter activity and cellular function, enabling a close study for multiple weeks of both architecture and biological responses.

The bio-printed tissue-like complexity supports the detection of injury, compensation, and recovery.

Leveraging Lipids to Predict Outcomes

Mass spectrometry is useful only if you know what markers to measure. In late 2016, a group of scientists published their life science work with burn patients, revealing a connection between lipidomics and clinical outcomes. They discovered that adipose tissue functions enhance hypermetabolism in traumatic situations, identifying specific free fatty acids which were initially measured at acutely elevated levels and slowly returned to baseline status over time. Impaired acute response in unsaturated free fatty acids was found in patients with greater burn severity or increased age. Furthermore, a significant elevation of saturated and mono-unsaturated free fatty acids correlated with increased mortality.

Mass spectrometry lipidomics can consequently indicate critical diagnostic outcomes in burn patients.

Two Steps Forward in Tackling the Zika Virus

The Zika Virus was attacked on multiple fronts in 2016, and mass spectrometry’s role in this life science puzzle proved highly beneficial. Development is underway for a rapid diagnostic tool that will both detect and confirm the presence of Zika within a small blood or saliva sample. Using a similar protocol that detects HIV/AIDS, scientists are splitting the sample for antibody detection as well as molecular amplification. Since the Zika genetic profile degrades quickly, amplification provides the possibility of prolonging detection through analytical sensitivity.

On the treatment side of this life science equation, Purdue University researchers have mapped the structure of the Zika virus, which has similarities to and is often confused with the dengue virus. Utilizing cryo-electron microscopy, researchers have discovered potential areas of the virus that could lead to antiviral or antibody treatment development options as well as providing keys for distinguishing Zika from dengue.

Mass Spectrometry Aids with Beta Cell Regrowth

Diabetes research provided our final life science breakthrough for 2016. Beta cells store and release insulin within the body, and Joslin Diabetes Center research, aided by mass spectrometry, has revealed that SerpinB1 regenerates beta cells within the body. Furthermore, SerpinB1 is produced by the liver, meaning that this process exists natively within the body. Synthetic SerpinB1 has also proven to stimulate beta cells in laboratory conditions, paving the way for drug discovery and a practical application for patients who are living with diabetes.

Of course, none of these groundbreaking achievements would have been possible without critical thinking and the creative application of mass spectrometry to serve real-world life sciences problems. We applaud the hard-working researchers in each of these cases and hope that they are trusting their mass specs to strong, safe, dedicated lab furniture like ours.

To join the ranks of those doing the same, contact us today.

Avoiding Four Dangerous Types of Damage with Dedicated Lab Furniture

control-qualityLab work can be a messy business, even in a sterile environment, and lab benches can really take a beating. When it comes to keeping your expensive equipment and precious projects safe, there are four big reasons why you cannot expect inexpensive lab furniture to perform as well as high-quality dedicated lab benches.

Weighty Work

The expensive equipment and machinery in your lab weigh a lot. Imagine for a moment how it would feel to hold a machine weighing anywhere from 400-700 pounds, constantly, day after day. Lab furniture never gets a break from gravity, so it must be built to stand immense amounts of pressure—the sort of pressure that will crush any of the cheaper department store furniture you might try to convert into lab benches.

Sure, you can find a metal trolley on wheels that claims to be able to move a thousand pounds—but it’s not just the structure of the bench that matters. Wheels can flatten over time, especially if they aren’t moved frequently. The rubber the wheels are made of gets stiff and when it’s time to move your equipment around, it will crack, and allow the air to escape. Scooting that half-ton machine around on useless, flat wheels is difficult, and the vibrations caused by doing so can cause irreparable damage to your mass spectrometer or other equipment.

Gouging and Dents

There are other dangers involved with moving your expensive instruments around the lab. Most lab instruments rest on rubber feet which are intended to minimize vibration and aren’t so much concerned with protecting the surface of the furniture below. Sliding them around eventually wears out the rubber feet, and scratches and dents are likely to result in the laminate surface of the furniture—or worse, the laminate could pull away from the base material altogether. This leaves room for dirt and bacteria to nestle in and take up residence.

Solvents and Surfaces

Tearing the laminate opens the door to yet another problem with cheaper lab benches. Sure, you can get a bench with a chemically resistant surface, since solvents are often corrosive. But if you get even the smallest tear in your laminate, it will allow spilled solvents to seep between the laminate and the base material on your lab furniture. This will prove nearly impossible to clean and eventually eat away at the bench surface, destroying it.

Handling the Heat

This last danger is an element that gets below the surface of your lab bench. If you choose a cheaper bench for your mass spec, you’re probably going to find yourself constructing your own acoustic cabinet for those noisy vacuum pumps. The problem is that the materials in many foams and glues can’t stand the heat generated by vacuum pumps. Over time, those materials will degrade, causing the foam to fall apart and the glue to separate. In a worst-case scenario, falling foam could even cause a fire when it hits your vacuum pumps, creating a serious lab safety issue.

How Our Dedicated Lab Furniture Stands Up to Wear and Tear

Now that we’ve got you worried, we want to reassure you that none of these issues are insurmountable. We’ve carefully addressed each of these problems with IonBench dedicated lab furniture. It comes with solidly built, lockable casters and a weight capacity of 440 kilograms or 970 pounds. The laminate work surface is designed without joints and an epoxy resin work surface upgrade is available. Our built-in vacuum pump enclosure is designed to take the heat and even comes with a temperature alarm.

We are also happy to provide you with tips for prolonging your investment. So connect with us for information and answers to your questions about how dedicated lab furniture can improve safety and reliability in your laboratory.