If used incorrectly, your lab centrifuge can turn into a dangerous piece of equipment. The top concern is the possibility of injury and damage if your rotor fails. The resulting flying metal fragments can cause severe damage and pose a risk to any lab personnel nearby. In certain cases, shock waves caused by failed rotors can blow out your lab’s windows or doors. Injuries can occur if lab personnel comes in contact with moving parts while your lab centrifuge is in use, and aerosols produced during the spinning can pose serious health risks. Most lab centrifuge accidents happen as a result of user error. In order to keep you and your colleagues safe, there are multiple precautions you can take. Read on to learn more!
Use Your Lab Centrifuge on a Leveled Surface
It is essential to use most, if not all, pieces of your lab equipment on a leveled surface. However, it is imperative with your lab centrifuge. An uneven surface might cause the rotor to be imbalanced. Centrifuges are designed with the overall assumption that the axis of the rotor will be in line with the direction of gravity. If this is not the case, it would be out of balance, even before you have loaded the tubes. It is also key to have a stable surface to work on. Once your rotor starts moving, it creates a rotational force in the opposite direction. The centrifuge does not start spinning in that opposite direction because it is firmly planted on a non-moving, flat surface. A surface that isn’t steady and stable could move in response to this force. That movement might potentially throw the lab centrifuge out of balance.
Inspect the Lab Centrifuge Tubes Before Use
Centrifuge tubes should be rated for their temperature, speed, and chemical resistance. Before you use the tubes, check and see if they’re compatible with your settings and application. Tubes should be a part of your matched set that fits your lab centrifuge. You should also check the condition of your tubes before using them. Even a small fracture could result in the tube breaking very easily once the centrifuge is up and running fully. Also, check out caps, O-rings, and adapters to make sure they are not degraded. Any imperfection in your vessel should be considered to render it entirely usable in the centrifuge.
Balance Your Tubes Correctly
Balancing your tubes correctly is important for the safe operation of your centrifuge, and this topic goes deep. However, here are some quick essential tips:
- Load tubes up symmetrically with adjacent and opposing loads balanced according to the manufacturer.
- When there are not enough tubes to balance, additional tubes filled with water or another substance could be used. The material in the “dummy” tubes should be of a similar density to the sample.
- Balance tubes out by mass, not by volume.
- Follow the centrifuge’s instructions for filling up tubes. For example, they’ll usually stipulate that they not be filled up more than two-thirds full.
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