Archives for May 2011

Autoclaves: The Questions You Want Answered

Did you know that autoclaves play an important role in preventing the spread of viruses and bacteria? Autoclaves make this possible by sterilizing equipment and supplies. They sterilize equipment by applying a high pressure steam to the equipment. This type of sterilization equipment is used across several different industries including microbiology and medicine. For example, autoclaves are heavily used in hospitals, especially by surgeons. Surgical tools such as forceps and scalpels are used during surgical procedures and need to be sterilized frequently. Autoclaves simplify the sterilization process for surgeons and help to ensure that all of the surgical tools are completely sterilized.

So what should you know about autoclaves? We have come up with several popular questions that are often asked and provided you with the answers.

1. What should I set the autoclave’s temperature and time to for sterilization?

The standard time and temperature is usually 121 degrees Celsius and for 15 to 20 minutes. The time and temperature can vary depending on the size and content of the load. It may be necessary to consult with the autoclave’s manufacturer on these settings.

2. What types of autoclaves are there?

Autoclaves are broken down into bench top and floor models. Bench top autoclaves are ideal for laboratories that are short on space. Although, the bench top models are unable to handle the capacity that the floor models offer. Floor model autoclaves are free standing and are either loaded from the top or the front of the machine.

3. Are there any considerations I should think about before purchasing an autoclave?

The short answer is yes. The long answer is that you should think about application and floor space. You need to think about what you are going to be using the autoclave for. Autoclaves come in different sizes and have a variety of capacities. So, if you are planning on sterilizing a large volume of equipment daily, you may want to look at purchasing a floor model autoclave because of their larger capacity over a bench top model.

Space is also an important factor. If you have the space, a floor model may be the best for you. With the floor models, you should also think about whether it is more beneficial to have a front loading or a top loading machine. If you often sterilize heavy flasks or equipment, having a top loading machine may make it difficult to easily load and unload equipment. On the other hand, front loaders tend to take up more floor space since the autoclave’s door opens outwards.

And always remember that you want to make sure you do not place too much equipment in the autoclave at one time. This could result in some of the equipment not being completely sterilized.

The Secret Behind Centrifuge Accidents and Prevention

Unfortunately, centrifuge explosions occur frequently in laboratories. These can be disastrous. One of Cornell University’s laboratories was seriously damaged after a centrifuge accident. The windows of the laboratory were shattered, the ceilings and walls damaged, and the ultracentrifuge was destroyed. Even worse, this type of an incident could have been prevented. The cause of the Cornell centrifuge incident was due to the failure of one of the rotors.

The amount of mechanical stress that is placed on a centrifuge’s rotors results in corrosion of the rotor over time. Damaged and corroded rotors can easily result in a centrifuge explosion. These rotors need to be well maintained and should not be operated past the rotor’s scheduled life span. Read more about the Cornell incident here.

We have developed a list of 3 easy ways to improve safety around the operation of centrifuges. First of all, make sure that everyone in your laboratory knows how to properly select which centrifuge to use as well as how to load and balance the centrifuge. It is not uncommon for centrifuge accidents to be caused by unbalanced samples or improperly loaded. Always make sure that are trained operators available to help train and supervise new operators. Many manufacturers also offer orientation programs for new operators.

Routine maintenance is essential to preventing accidents. The rotors of the centrifuge need to be constantly inspected for damage or signs of corrosion. They should also be cleaned after each use. You should also know the life span of the rotor. It is also helpful to have the manufacturer’s operating manual easily accessible to ensure that their usage guidelines are followed.

And finally, we can’t emphasize enough the importance of keeping a usage log for each centrifuge. The usage log should include the type of rotor used, the speed of the operation and the length of time the rotor was used for. This log will also help you to determine when the centrifuge rotor should be removed and replaced with a new one.

Always remember that an educated, well-prepared laboratory staff will help to prevent the costly and potentially life threatening consequences of centrifuge explosions.




The Nitty Gritty On Centrifuges

Application. Functionality. Size. These three factors are critical in determining which centrifuge is right for you. You’re probably wondering: what is a centrifuge? Centrifuges are machines that apply a centrifugal force (a force that pushes outwards on an object moving around the center) to a container which causes the container to spin rapidly. Typically if you are looking for a machine that has the ability to separate liquids of different densities or a liquid from a solid, a centrifuge is ideal for those applications.

Centrifuges come in 5 different types varying in size, speed and what they are commonly used for. The most basic and smallest model is the mini centrifuge. They are also referred to as a spin-down centrifuge. Mini centrifuges are table top units. They are so light that they can be held with just one hand. Mini centrifuges are able to hold tubes between .2 to 2.0 milliliters. This model can spin up to 6,000 rpm.  Mini centrifuges are often used in environmental and clinical science for the basic separation of samples.

Similar to mini centrifuges, clinical centrifuges are also compact table top units and spin at low speeds of 6,000 rpm. The main difference between these two types of centrifuges is the clinical centrifuges are designed to hold the tubes horizontally instead of vertically. This design allows for better separation of the samples. Some of the clinical centrifuges also have the feature of a swing out rotor. This means that model has mobile tube holders that hold the tubes vertically when the rotor is not in use. When the rotor is in motion, the tube holders move the tubes into the horizontal position. The swing out rotor is used for blood samples because the capacity of the tube holders is between 5 to 15 milliliters instead of .2 to 2 milliliters. Clinical centrifuges can often be found in hospitals and diagnostic labs. 

For many types of molecular biology and biochemistry applications, microcentrifuges are often used. These centrifuges offer the ability to adjust the rpms and have time settings. The maximum speed for these models is 60,000 rpm. Microcentrifuges are also able to fit tubes between .2 and 2 milliliters.

The larger version of the microcentrifuge is called the bench top centrifuge. With these models, it is important to take into consideration how much space you have available. They tend to be bulky and take up a lot of bench space. The speed settings and time can be adjusted for these centrifuges. They also are able to reach a speed of 100,000 rpm.

The most impressive type of centrifuge is the ultracentrifuge. They have the ability to spin up to speeds of 1,000,000 times the force of the earth’s gravity! These models are large in size and are stand alone units. Ultracentrifuges are about the size of a washing machine. There are two categories of ultracentrifuges, they include analytical and preparative. Analytical ultracentrifuges come with fixed rotors and an optical detection system that can analyze samples as they spin. Their ability to analyze samples as they spin makes them great for sedimentation studies in the environmental and chemical fields. Preparative ultracentrifuges come with swing out rotors which makes them perfect for gradient separation applications in biology and biochemistry.

What do you think about our post on centrifuges?



Universal Medical Teams Up With SciQuest

We are excited to announce that we recently joined SciQuest’s supplier network. This means that you can work with SciQuest to purchase some of our products. You can also find some of our products listed in their online catalog.

SciQuest is an online procurement organization that helps healthcare and research organizations purchase products from a list of reputable suppliers. What is online procurement? Online procurement allows qualified and registered users to look for suppliers or sellers of goods and services through an established network.

What can SciQuest do for you? They actually help to simplify the procurement by offering a diverse list of suppliers to choose from and an easy online purchasing process. All you have to do is search through SciQuest’s suppliers, find the product and supplier you are looking for and place the order. SciQuest handles the rest of the process for you. This helps to speed up the order placement, order processing and delivery processes. They also help customers select the right products and provide details on the products ordered.

If you would like to learn more about SciQuest, feel free to visit their website here.  If Universal Medical Inc. is not enabled in your Sciquest customer portal please contact your purchasing department about having our catalog enabled for you.

Have any questions on our recent joining up with SciQuest? Let us know!

Improve Your Lab’s Safety With Test Tube Racks

Untidy laboratories are not only a headache for the employees, but they can be a safety hazard. Unfortunately, messy laboratory work spaces are one of the factors that contribute to the 10,000 accidents that occur every year. Luckily, there is an easy and relatively inexpensive solution to this problem. Organization within the laboratory is key to not only safety, but it also saves time and creates an efficient work place.

One of the best organizational tools available for laboratories is test tube racks. Test tube holders are an easy way to organize test tubes and prevent the test tubes from falling and breaking. These containers also provide a safe way for you to store test tubes, especially when they are being used for on going experiments. For laboratories that run multiple experiments and use lots of test tubes, test tube holders help cut down on the chaos and mess.

There are many different designs and types of test tube racks available. Here are some of our favorite designs and types:

  • Interlocking cube racks
  • Stackable test tube holders
  • Plastic test tube containers

Interlocking cube racks are a fun, new way to organize and store test tubes. These cube racks allow you to store a variety of different sized test tubes including culture tubes, centrifuge tubes and microcentrifuge tubes, all at the same time. You also have the opportunity to create your own test tube container configuration, since each of the modules are able to rotate independently of one another. The modules also come in different colors which allows for organizing the test tubes with a simple color coding process.

Is your laboratory tight on space? Stackable test tube racks save space with their unique design. They are also perfect for storage in refrigerators, freezers and lab bench tops. These holders can also be submerged under water and without tipping over the test tubes. Like the interlocking cube racks, stackable test tube containers also come in a variety of different colors and sizes.

Plastic test tube holders are very durable and are easy to clean. You won’t have to worry about these racks chipping, peeling or rusting. Because of their durability, they are designed to handle reuse and can with stand the day to day wear and tear. These plastic test tube containers also come in a variety of sizes and colors.


We hope this post helps inform you on the importance of lab cleanliness and how test tube racks can be an easy way to keep an organized lab!

Add Your Personal Touch To Your X-ray Markers

Looking to spice up your x-ray markers?

There are several different ways you can personalize your x-ray markers. One of the most common methods is through adding your initials to each of the x-ray markers. The markers can have two or three initials or numbers. Placing your initials on the x-ray markers can make it easy to track which x-rays you have taken. Also, many medical facilities actually require radiologists to place their initials on x-ray markers.

Many radiologists also enjoy using different colors for their x-ray markers. Standard x-ray markers come in red for the right side and blue for the left side.

In addition to a variety of different color selections, you also have the option of changing the shape of the x-ray marker. Most x-ray markers tend to be rectangular in shape. Luckily, many radiologists have the choice of using x-ray markers that can have unique shapes such as markers with a fish or skull shape to them. These different shapes also come in a variety of different dimensions in order to meet the radiologist’s requirements.

So have some fun and explore the different ways you can personalize your x-ray markers!