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Manual vs Electronic Pipetting: What's The Difference?

Pipettes are a daily-use instrument in laboratories that help accurately measure and dispense micro-volumes of liquids or fluids. While manual pipettes have always come in a variety of different shapes and sizes, the invention of the electronic pipette revolutionized testing efficiency within a lab, allowing for speedier, more accurate pipetting. Check out our Pipetting 101 blog to help you decide if a manual or electronic pipette is the best choice for you. 


Comfortability & Ergonomics

Electronic Pipetting has done wonders in the way of reducing Repetitive Strain Injury, which can be caused by the repetitive use of pipettes over an extended period of time and can be very painful.  For users, Electronic pipetting has done wonders to reduce painful Repetitive Strain Injury, which can result from the continual use of pipettes over an extended period.  Frequent pipette users face a stronger risk of developing RSI and other hand, thumb and wrist injuries. However, switching to an electronic pipette can alleviate this pain and provide a substantial increase in comfort for the user by eliminating the need to continually twist knobs or the plunger to adjust the pipetting volume. 

Precision & Accuracy

When pipetting, the accuracy of the volume of liquid being transferred is critical for any experiment or procedure. Thanks to their digital displays and motor operation, users of electronic pipettes can be confident that they will accurately dispense the selected volume of liquid.  

Because of the programmable features on many electronic pipettes, their reproducibility is improved: everyone uses the same pipetting programs, so manual errors are minimized and it prevents operator-to-operator variability. 


Scientists and lab personnel often have a limited amount of time to spend in the lab, so reducing the time spent pipetting frees up time for other tasks or experiments. By increasing productivity in the lab and streamlining the pipetting process, the time saved to spend on other tasks is a huge benefit. Electronic Pipettes can often do the job of multiple lab instruments and can include programs for standard pipetting, repeat dispensing, dilutions and titrations.

Repeatability & Volume

For those who will only occasionally pipette, or do so in low volumes, manual pipetting is a great option. However, many lab users will need to pipette large volumes of liquids over long periods of time. Repeatability is crucial, and electronic pipettes have the ability to offer simple, reproducible results.

The ability for users to program individual calibrations and protocol settings is also a huge advantage over manual pipettes as well and helps in larger labs. Advanced functions such as multi-dispensing, mixing and diluting are easily recalled through the stored information saved on the electronic pipette. Users can often switch between these protocols with just a few clicks of the pipette.

Reducing Human Error

The likelihood of human error is drastically reduced when the majority of the pipetting process becomes automated via electronic pipettes. Variability from user to user is taken out of the equation, resulting in data and results that are easily replicated.

A user suffering from Repetitive Strain Injury has a much higher chance of miscalculating or accidentally pressing the wrong button, which can compromise an experiment’s accuracy. Electronic pipettes requires much less hand movement and effort to carry out the same liquid handling tasks as a manual pipette 


For those working with a small budget, a manual pipette may be the way to go. However, an investment in an electronic pipette may be more costly up front but save substantial costs in the future.

It's been estimated that one electronic pipette can usually replace two manual pipettes, as the motor delivers accurate, reproducible and precise control of much shorter stroke distances, which help enable pipetting over a wider volume range at better specifications. With only one pipette to maintain versus two, the calibration time and costs are reduced.

How Do Electronic Pipettes Work?

Electronic pipettes utilize a motor to control piston movement, ensuring the exact volume that is programmed by the user is dispensed every time. The different pipetting protocols, which include volumes and speeds, can also be pre-programmed and saved so that they are executed in the same way every time. 

The motor that controls the piston precisely regulates the aspiration and dispensing rates, which reduces air bubbles and barrel contamination. Push-button functionality provides an ergonomic advantage as well, avoiding mechanical wear associated with force-dependent actions like tip ejection, and averting laboratory injuries like pipette thumb. Electronic pipettes are often programmable, allowing storage and modification of protocols for different users, helping save costs on overall tip usage, and driving greater efficiency in experiments

Choosing your Electronic Pipette

Sonic Supply offers a great selection of dPette Electronic Pipettes from DLAB Scientific which are high-quality, high-performance lithium-ion battery pipettes. The dPette is a workhorse during busy times in the laboratories and features a bright LED display that makes programming and reading easy, reducing or eliminating errors.


Feel free to contact us anytime, or call us at 1-844-977-6642

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