Guide to Lab Balances

Choosing the Correct balance for your application, or a series of balances that suit all of your application needs, is the first step in good lab weighing practices. If you choose the correct balance, calibrate it regularly, including any time the balance is moved to a new location, and keep it clean, your balance will reward you with many years of accurate operation. Choosing the right balance comes down to three main selection criteria outlined in the guide below. First, you should consider the readability of the balance. This represents the smallest change in weight the balance will detect. Next, make sure you choose the balance that matches the weight of what you will be weighing. Finally, take a look at one of the most expensive features you can have on your balance—automatic internal calibration—and decide if it’s worthwhile for this balance purchase. If you cannot find one single balance that meets all of your weighing needs, you are not alone; most lab work benches require a combination of many of the balances described below. The flexibility and customization of your weighing stations will more than make up for the initial up-front costs. Guide yourself through the selection criteria below in an independently gathered list of balances from various manufacturers you might want to consider.

Balances available with:

Automatic Internal Calibration is likely the most costly feature on your balance, aside from the readability and capacity. However, it is very convenient and can save valuable time. Many balances with this feature also come with external calibration.

Manual Calibration is the traditional method of placing a certified calibration weight on the balance and entering the calibration mode of the balance. Only the external weight would need to be sent away for re-certification to ensure your balance is calibrated correctly.

Analytical Balances 

Analytical balances are those with readability typically between 0.01 mg (0.00001 g) and 1 mg (0.001 g). Applications for an analytical balance in the lab include: differential weighing, interval weighing when connected to a PC with special software, formulation weighing, density measurement, pipette calibration, sample management and any other analytical weighing needs your lab has. Analytical lab balances offer the second widest range of weighing capacities—usually around 500 g.

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Precision Balances 

Precision balances are those with a readability typically between 1 mg (0.001 g) and 1 g. Applications for a precision balance in the lab include: GMP, ISO and other quality management systems, weighing, dynamic weighing, interval weighing when connected to a PC with special software, formulation weighing, sample management and any other daily precision weighing needs you have in your lab. Precision lab balances offer the widest range of weighing capacities with maximum capacities usually around 70,000 g.

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Microbalances are those with a readability typically between 1μg (0.000001 g) and 0.01 mg (0.00001 g). Applications for a microbalance include: stent weighing, particulate matter weighing, pipette calibration, elemental analysis of glass, analysis of pesticides and any other critical microweighing applications in your laboratory. Lab microbalances usually have a maximum capacity of approximately 50 g.

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  Ultra-Microbalances are those with a readability of 0.1μg (0.0000001 g). Applications for an ultra-microbalance include: particulate matter weighing, ashing or incineration, drying , measurement of coatings, checking spillage quantities and any other application that would require the most accurate measurement possible. Lab ultra-microbalances usually have a maximum capacity of approximately 5 g.

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