Maintenance Tips: Balances
The most important thing in looking after your lab balance is to keep it clean and calibrated. In general, most facilities should service and calibrate their balances on an annual basis, but that frequency depends on how often you use your balance, the working environment, and any other regulatory mandates for your industry. Some labs may need to calibrate their balances monthly or even daily.
How will differences in sample type affect which balance should be used?
Different sample types will have an effect on the type of balance setup used. If the samples are powder-based, then a draft shield will be needed. As well, weighing liquid into test tubes may require a tare holder to hold the tube up. The surface area of the sample also may affect which type of plate the sample is weighed upon. Being aware of your sample type will help alleviate many of the issues associated with choosing the correct balance configuration.
Will the nominal sample weight being used change which balance will be ideal?
Knowing what your nominal sample weight is can help take a lot of the legwork out of buying a balance. Buying a balance with a lower capacity will typically allow for more precise readings. However, reading too close to the upper limit can damage a balance or throw off the calibration. Many different types of balances with different readability ranges exist, from the highest end with precision balances that can typically read from 1 mg to 70 000 g, all the way down to laboratory ultra-microbalances which can typically read from 0.1 μg to 5 g.
How will the laboratory environment affect the purchase and setup of the balance?
Balances are highly sensitive pieces of lab equipment. Many considerations need to be taken into account when setting up the balance. If the lab is in an area prone to vibration, such as next to a roadway, then a vibration-proof table should be installed. If the area has a lot of air circulation, then a draft shield should be set up, especially for powder samples. For dry environments with a lot of static electricity, an ioniser can be installed to help control this. For very sensitive ultra-microbalances, even changing between floors may require a recalibration due to the effect of gravity on the scale.
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