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How To Choose Pipettes

The concept behind a pipette is simple: they allow the accurate, sterile transfer of a small, specific amount of liquid. They are often used for medical tests, as well as within fields such as molecular biology and analytical chemistry.   

Pipettes (also referred to as pipettors) generally measure in microliters (µL) or milliliters (mL). Micropipettes dispense up to 1000µl, while macropipettes dispense volumes in excess of 1000µl.

Despite the number of options available, buying a pipette doesn’t have to be that complicated. Let’s look at what’s out there and what you need to know when shopping for pipettes! 

Pipette Styles 

There’s a variety of pipette types. Your intended application should dictate the one you choose. 

When working with dense or viscous liquids, opt for a fixed volume pipette. As the name suggests, fixed volume pipettes can only dispense the same volume of liquid each time without adjustment. The user can work at a faster pace without having to continually adjust the volume setting, helping avoid errors. With only one setting, they require fewer internal components and simplify calibration. Fixed volume pipettes are ideal for budget-conscious labs, as well as beginners who may be more prone to errors. 

True to their name, the volume for adjustable pipettes provide the user with the option to select differing amounts of liquid to dispense.  

Where single channel pipettes only dispense one sample at a time, multi-channel pipettes provide the ability to dispense liquid into 8 to 12 wells at a time, offering significant savings in time and reducing the risk of repetitive strain injury (RSI). What would take hours with a single channel unit can be done in minutes. 

Many pipettes are manually operated, with the user delivering or withdrawing liquid by using their thumb to control the piston. Alternatives include electronic pipettes like the dPette+ range from DLAB

The benefits of electronic pipettes include increased accuracy (thanks to a digital display and electric motor operation), better ergonomics, ease of use and time savings (some programmable pipettes allow the user to aspirate and dispense increasing amounts of microliters each time). Many offer additional features and modes, such as multi-dispensing, pipetting, reverse pipetting, mixing and diluting.  

Matching Pipette Tips 

For most brands of pipettes (such as Microlit), universal tips let the user easily match the pippetor’s volume to the closest corresponding pipette tip volume.  

For Globe Scientific pipettes, follow their pipette type selection guide to match the pipette tip group letter with the pipette tip product codes. 

Globe Scientific pipette tip selection guide

Unsure of which pipette or tip you need? Ask us! We’re here to help! 

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