Minimizing Mass Spectrometry Vibrations for the Life of Your Machine

vibrationsWe’ve heard a lot of interesting stories in the years we’ve been selling lab benches. Some of them make a really good case about why you need dedicated lab furniture. For example, we recently heard from a service tech about a lab that was located near an active rock quarry. The vibrations from the blasting in the quarry affected the mass spectrometry, actually shortening the life of the machine itself.

Fortunately, most labs don’t have to address that problem. Even jackhammers come and go, creating only temporary issues for sensitive mass specs. But with mass spectrometry, there is no such thing as good vibrations, which is why we have worked hard to create dedicated lab furniture that will dampen roughing pump vibrations by 99%.

Roughing Pumps and Turbopumps

As you know, not all pumps are alike. Vacuum pumps are a critical component of mass spectrometry, but no one’s been able to create a cool and quiet one yet. Roughing pumps are like the jackhammers of the MS world, doing the initial hard work without any finesse. This means that they generate lots of vibration, heat and noise. Unfortunately, that vibration, heat and noise pose a serious threat to the turbopumps—which in a perfect world, would operate within a vacuum as well as create one. They’re like a master jeweler who needs a quiet, sterile, vibration-free environment in which to make delicate, precise movements.

Vibration-Free Mass Spectrometry

This is why we designed our IonBench dedicated lab furniture to minimize vibrations, block noise and evacuate heat from MS vacuum pumps. We’ve created special enclosures that ventilate the heat away from the mass spec. We’ve also crafted patented springs that support anti-vibration platforms for those pumps. We request detailed information on our clients’ mass spec models and then install specifically calibrated springs to match the exact weight and distribution needed. In this way, we can reduce forepump vibration by 99%, creating a vibration-free zone in which the turbopumps can work.

The Cost of Vibration

There is a big reason that we go to all this trouble when we create our customized IonBench dedicated lab furniture for you. Turbopumps are expensive, and generally have to be replaced every one to three years. Those same techs who told us the quarry story say that repairs for turbopumps cost about $5,000, and a new one will set you back around $20,000. There are other factors that determine the life of a turbopump, including the kind of samples you’re working with and how frequently you’re using your mass spec. But again, there is no such thing as good vibrations when it comes to turbopumps. Reducing vibration can extend the life of the pump, which can save you as much as $20-30,000 over a five-year span. Use the wrong lab furniture and that’s a significant chunk of change for any lab to absorb.

This is yet another reason why it’s always a good idea to invest in IonBench dedicated lab furniture. If you’re investing hundreds of thousands in a mass spectrometer, it makes sense to invest in the right lab bench to keep that MS working at peak efficiency for as long as possible. To learn more about our commitment to minimize vibrations, contact us today.