Liquid Handling: Improved Techniques for Pipette and Pipettor Usage

Liquid handling is one of the core functions of any laboratory, and pipetting is one of the most common functions performed in labs. It is both a measuring technique and the conveyance method used for transporting small volumes of fluid. Whether liquids are being moved on a small scale, one sample at a time, or on a larger scale, with dozens of samples at a time, there is a need to transfer liquids cleanly and accurately from one vessel to another.

Laboratories experimenting and studying biological sciences have a near-universal need for liquid handling. Those that pipette hundreds of samples a day can start to see problems like inaccurate transfers because of repetitive motion injuries with their liquid handlers. There are, however, some techniques you can employ and changes you can make to reduce the chances of repetitive stress injuries and to continue to achieve the high standards you expect in your lab while using pipettes and single or multiple channel pipettors.

Reducing Inaccuracies in Liquid Handling

Pipetting time and time again, all day long, can lead to muscle fatigue and repetitive stress injuries which, in turn, can lead to slowed productivity and/or inaccuracies. Although they may vary, symptoms of repetitive strain for lab technicians using pipettes mainly occur in the shoulders, arms, and hands. Besides maintaining proper posture and keeping your muscles as relaxed as possible during liquid handling, what can you do to help prevent these injuries in the lab while pipetting?

Use the proper equipment. A liquid handling operator’s technique is only as precise as the instrument he or she is using, so it is important that you find the right pipette for the job. A controller that causes strain after long periods of use will not only diminish your productivity, but increase the chances for mistakes, further increasing its likelihood of becoming an expensive paper weight.

One major factor to consider when either using your current pipette, or selecting a new one, is the operational pressure required to operate the pipette. If you have already begun to experience pain while pipetting, you may want to consider a pipette controller that requires reduced operating forces.  Additionally, when shopping for a handheld pipette controller, consider the weight of the item. Holding even half a pound can feel like a ton after a day of working in a laminar flow hood! There are many handheld options available that will suit your needs and help you remain productive and accurate.

The main benefit of using a motorized pipette controller is its ability to reduce your time pipetting. Ensuring that you select a reliably fast and accurate controller is crucial to productivity, so review the aspiration and dispensing speed of liquids when you search for an electronic pipette controller.

An option to consider when tasked with larger liquid samples is the multichannel pipettor. A pipette controller that will fill more than one pipette at a time will help reduce the amount of time spent pipetting and, therefore, reduce the chances of inaccuracies and inconsistencies in liquid handling. Models available in a compact design, requiring minimal bench space, are both affordable and easy to use.

Pipettors are designed to bridge the gap between handheld pipetting and larger complex liquid handling systems. Manual pipettes, like their electronic partners, stand up to the wear and tear of constant use while maintaining excellent accuracy and reproducibility; however, repeatedly pipetting with multichannel pipettes can be exhausting for your forearms, and quite tedious for a set of 96-well plates. Having an electronic multichannel pipette is extremely helpful when you need to fill up 96-well plates quickly without wearing your arms out.

Find the Right Pipette Controller and Optimize Your Lab Productivity

To optimize productivity and reduce chances of repetitive stress disorders and the inaccuracies it can cause, the right controller will have the weight, speed, ergonomic design, accuracy, and convenience you need, all at the right price. When shopping for your pipette controller, bearing these six criteria in mind will help you filter through all the products to fit your liquid handling needs. Compare the pipette controllers and pipettors that Next Day Science offers to find the right one for you and your lab. Not only do we offer a variety of budget friendly and reliable solutions for your liquid handling needs, we offer a solution to one of the most common causes of liquid handling errors, repetitive stress injury.