Extending the Life of “Obsolete” Laboratory Equipment

“That centrifuge is obsolete.” “We no longer support that model spectrophotometer.” “Parts for your laboratory shaker are no longer available.” “The part you need for your scintillation counter has been discontinued and there is not a replacement.” In the laboratory equipment service world, these statements are very common, and seem to occur more and more frequently. In fact, you may have been told this about a centrifuge or an incubator that you purchased just 10 years ago or less. As technology changes, advances in R&D are discovered and instrumentation design is improved, and the equipment manufacturers phase out instrumentation faster and faster to make room for sales of the newer models.Continue reading

What Are Spectrofuge’s Service Rates and How Are These Rates Established?

Spectrofuge takes great pride in making sure that our labor rates are competitive, reasonable, yet not exorbitant. Skilled technicians with the expertise needed to properly assess malfunctions in laboratory research equipment and perform necessary repairs are vital to our business. Laboratory research equipment have a wide variety of operational systems, that include mechanical parts, drive motors, electronic circuit boards, temperature regulating systems, digital and analytical components, internal computers with instrument specific software, radioactive sources, vacuum pumps, robotic arms, bearing assemblies, as well as other components. Spectrofuge technicians are cross-trained in as many types of equipment as possible, with several technicians that are more skilled in some areas than others. Spectrofuge technicians have over 150 years combined of working on laboratory research equipment. Several of our technicians have been with Spectrofuge for over 20 years. Spectrofuge also offers its customers a source for repairs of older equipment, equipment that is not supported by the original manufacturer, and obsolete equipment. Spectrofuge technicians have years of repair history with many older models of laboratory equipment and the problems those models experience. Our technicians have available to them surplus parts and equipment for troubleshooting and repairing the old equipment. Our hourly rates take into account all these variables as well as the labor rates of our competitors.Continue reading

Spectrofuge: Your Turnkey Professional For Your Sensitive Lab Equipment Relocation

Moving a scientific research lab can be a daunting experience for a lab manager and all the lab personnel. From small equipment like roller drums to spectrophotometers to complete HPLC systems, labs must consider many issues when planning their lab move. In our experience, labs will secure the services of general movers for all their laboratory equipment from the smaller items to the larger, more sensitive pieces of equipment. These general movers may have years of commercial moving experience for equipment like printers, computers, monitors, and in many cases, laboratory research equipment. Spectrofuge is sure that these general movers can move the less critical and less sensitive equipment. In our experience, general movers have limited experience with the operations of the more sensitive laboratory research equipment like HPLC/FPLC systems, robotic imaging systems, centrifuges, and liquid scintillation counters. Spectrofuge does not advise that these general movers relocate your sensitive laboratory equipment. Improper preparation, transportation, and reinstallation of sensitive laboratory equipment can lead to damage to the equipment, expensive repairs, costly downtime of the equipment, and time-consuming insurance claims.Continue reading

Should My Lab Purchase a Service Contract for our Lab Equipment?

What Should I Consider When Thinking About Getting a Service Contract?

There are several factors you should consider when contemplating whether or not you want to buy a service contract for your laboratory equipment. One of the most important factors to think about is how important the piece of equipment is to the function of your lab. You should consider what would happen to your lab’s productivity if this piece of equipment were to break down. Do you have equipment that can be used while the other is out of service? Will you able to wait weeks for the piece of equipment to be repaired? If the answer to either of these questions is “no”, then you should seriously consider purchasing a service contract for your equipment. A service contract will ensure that you can have your equipment repaired in a timely manner so that you can continue your research.

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Centrifuge Care and Maintenance in the Lab

How Is a Centrifuge Used?

Centrifuges are used to increase the sedimentation rate of particles by using centrifugal forces, which are forces that are greater than gravity. Centrifuges consist of several parts including a rotor, motor, imbalance detector, tachometer, safety lid, and braking system. Some centrifuges also include a refrigeration system. They are classified into three categories: low-speed, high-speed, and ultra-speed. Low-speed centrifuges are used to separate serum or plasma from red blood cells, and to harvest and purify various precipitates and cell fragments. High-speed centrifuges are used to separate cell constituents. They are also used to isolate and purify viruses. Ultracentrifuges are mainly used to isolate and purify membrane components.Continue reading

Rotor Care and Safety

What Is a Rotor? How Is It Used?

Manufacturers of laboratory centrifuges such as Sorvall, Beckman, and Eppendorf also manufacture rotors for their centrifuges. In laboratory centrifuges, the rotor acts as a rapidly rotating container, spinning at very high rates of speed. Centrifugal force is created during these spins, acting on the rotor and its contents to achieve various research purposes. There are three type of rotors: swinging-bucket rotors, fixed-angle rotors, and vertical rotors. Swinging-bucket and fixed-angle rotors are most often used in benchtop, low-speed, and high-speed floor-model centrifuges. Vertical rotors are frequently used in ultracentrifuges. Swinging-bucket rotors are used to separate large-volume samples at low speeds, while fixed-angle rotors are used for basic pelleting differential separations. Vertical rotors are typically used for isopycnic separations, such as the banding of DNA in cesium chloride. Continue reading

Obstacles Faced by Third Party Service Companies

When Larry Autry, founder of Spectrofuge Corporation of NC, Inc. made the decision to start a third party laboratory equipment service company in 1975 he knew there would be obstacles to face.  As a small business competing with large manufacturers of centrifuges and other types of laboratory equipment, Spectrofuge had to find ways to obtain parts, service literature, service manuals, and technical support.  This is not as simple as just setting up an account with the manufacturers.  The equipment manufacturers were not very helpful with providing information to a third party service company that was going to be competing for their business.Continue reading