There are many different factors to consider when purchasing a lab shaker, stirrer or mixer, as well as countless makes and models to choose from. The following guide can make your decision a little easier. Various makes and models are broken down into categories, so you can make the best choice possible.
Orbital shakers are ideal for culturing cells by imparting gentle to vigorous agitation in a smooth, circular motion, typically in a speed range of 40 to 500 rpm. Many models are offered with built-in temperature control (see incubating/refrigerating shakers at right), while others can be placed directly inside incubators or in cold or warm rooms. Most models can be used with interchangeable platforms to support a range of flasks, tubes, beakers or bottles. Different flasks and/or tubes can be accommodated on the same platform. Available in Digital or Analog style.
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Reciprocal shakers are typically used for mixing liquids and provide gentle to vigorous agitation in a reciprocal mixing motion that pushes the liquid from one side of the beaker to the other. Available in Digital or Analog style.
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Incubating/Refrigerating shakers should be considered if you require a shaker with temperature control. They can either cool down or heat up the shaking materials as required. A series of small fans inside the shaker’s enclosure ensures uniform temperature dispersion. The size will range from a benchtop unit to a floor model as well as a stackable option, which can handle larger capacities in a smaller space. There are several choices of interchangeable platforms to accommodate any combination of lab needs. Different sized flasks and racks can be used on the same platform as well. Some models offer multi-step programming, allowing the user to incubate and/or refrigerate at predetermined time intervals. Available in Digital or Analog style.
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Magnetic Lab Stirrers mix liquids by moving a stir bar with a magnet, or series of electromagnets, to create a rotating magnetic field that spins the stir bar immersed in the liquid. Magnetic lab stirrers are available with a heated platform or a non-heated platform.
Heated Magnetic Lab Stirrers consist of a hot plate and magnetic stirrer in one. They feature adjustments to control both the platform temperature and the mixing speed. These come in single-position or multi-position platform units.
Single position heated magnetic lab stirrers will heat and mix one beaker or flask at a time in one position on the platform.
Multi-position heated magnetic lab stirrers will heat and mix multiple beakers or flasks at a time in more than one position on the platform.
Non-Heated Magnetic Lab Stirrers do not contain a heating element in the platform. The speed at which they rotate the spin bar is adjustable. These come in single-position or multi-position platform units.
Single position non-heated magnetic lab stirrers will mix one beaker or flask at a time in one position on the platform.
Multi-position non-heated magnetic lab stirrers will mix multiple beakers or flasks at a time in more than one position on the platform.
Overhead Lab Stirrers are available in a variety of motor speeds measured in horsepower. If you are purchasing an overhead stirrer for general lab use make sure to invest in one with enough horsepower to mix the largest volume and thickest viscosity you anticipate.
Mechanical overhead stirrers often have two or more speed settings based on the viscosity of the material to be mixed. A wide range of paddles, clamps, tube holders and stands are available to suit your mixing needs.
Electronic overhead stirrers are very similar to mechanical overhead stirrers but have an added digital control panel, display and processing unit. With this function they are able to be programmed to operate at various time lengths and speed settings. Units with micro-processor speed controls also maintain a more constant speed.
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Vortex mixers are ideal for vigorous agitation from 200 to 3,200 rpm in a vortex mixing motion. On some models the platform can be interchanged to support a single tube for intermittent use or a platform for a range of capped or sealed containers. Most will operate in either touch mode or continuous operation.
Basic vortex shaking mixers are adjusted by mechanical dials on the front of the unit and are suitable for many common lab mixing needs.
Digital vortex shaking mixers have an added digital control panel, display and micro-processing unit. With this function they are able to be programmed to operate at various time lengths and speed settings.
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