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General info about Laboratory Equipment

Must have equipment for a Scientific Laboratory

Laboratory equipment refers to the specific equipment used by scientists in scientific laboratories. This equipment differs depending on the function of the lab, though some equipment is universally used. Laboratory equipment is used to either perform an experiment or to take measurements and record data with. Any pieces of equipment that are larger or more sophisticated than most are generally referred to as ‘scientific instruments’.

One of the most universal and widely used types of laboratory equipment is glassware. This term stretches from flasks and beakers for holding liquids and other substances, all the way to thermometers. In recent years however glass has become less common due to the rise of much cheaper and less breakable materials like plastic. Glassware is for the most part mass produced, however for specific requirements some glassware can be blow by hand. However for certain purposes glass is still used due to the fact that it is transparent, inert, easy to customize, and heat resistant. Different types of glass are used for different reasons:

Borosilicate glass is used in reagent bottles and can withstand thermal stress

Quartz glass is used in cuvettes and can withstand high temperatures. It is also transparent in certain areas of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Actinic glass is used in dark storage bottles and can block ulraviolet and infrared radiation.

Heavy walled glass is used in glass pressure reactors and can obviously withstand great amounts of pressure.

Fritted glass is finely porous glass through which liquids and gases can pass. This can be used in the lab through fritted glass filter systems as well as scrubbers or spargers. Another application for fritted glass is packing it in chromatography columns and resin beds for specific chemical synthsis.

Within the scientific community there are various types of labs that require very specific instruments and tools to carry out their purpose. In physics labs the main ingredients may be to do with weights, or other measuring tools that work with the physical world. In biological labs the equipment will switch to equipment used to store biological matter, such as fridges and petri dishes. And in chemistry labs the equipment will deal with many different chemicals, some acidic, some lethal, some harmless. Their equipment generally has to withstand different levels of acids and basics.


Other scientific labs that require their own specialized equipment are:

  • Analytical labratory
  • General labratory
  • Microscopy
  • Biotechnology
  • Vacuum systems
  • Labratory and industrial weighing systems


Along with the basics of the lab, there are often much larger machines and storage facilities that classify as instruments and are less common then the simple round bottom beaker, or bunsen burner.


Specialized Laboratory Equipment

At times laboratories can be outside the realm of traditional science. Here are some such laboratories:

  • film laboratory or darkroom,
  • language laboratory
  • public health laboratory
  • computer laboratory
  • crime laboratory
  • clandestine laboratory for making illegal drugs
  • medical laboratory

Each of these ‘labs’ has their own set of specialized equipments to carry out specific tasks.

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