With older mechanical balances fading from the picture, balances are becoming sophisticated in terms of user interface, ergonomics, data acquisition, and built-in diagnostics. Most balances interface with the user through a front panel, although some features are available through a computer connection. Newer models are designed to make sample introduction and removal a comfortable experience and to reduce the likelihood of repetitive-stress injuries. For example, quality control or environmental laboratories may run several hundred samples per week; the busiest establishments may encounter such workflows in one day. Copying numbers to three or four decimal places is not only tedious—it may result in skewed results through miscopying weight values or entering them into the wrong location on a spreadsheet. Analysts may not notice anything is wrong until after completing several days’ worth of measurements. The last thing a busy lab wants is rework: having to reweigh samples or, in a worst-case scenario, having to prepare a tray of samples and rerun an experiment. Most top-line balances include some sort of connectivity option to help make things easier for users.

Types of balances respondents are using or planning to purchase for their facilities include:

Analytical Balance 52%
Precision Balance 26%
Micro Balance 16%
Other Balance 6%

Components our readers are using with their lab balances include:

Calibration Weights 33%
Balance Enclosure 23%
Vibration Isolation Table 12%
Weighting Table 12%
Moisture Analyzer 8%
Balance Printer 4%
Barcode Scanner 3%
Other 2%
Keyboard 2%
Evaporation Traps 1%

The weighing applications respondents are using their lab balances for:

Pipette Calibration 25%
Differential Weighting 22%
Dynamic Weighing 21%
Mass Comparison 19%
Filter Weighting 11%
Other 3%

Close to 50% of the respondents looking to purchase a new analytical balance are replacing an aging balance. Analytical balances are no longer considered to be simply weighing instruments that take point measurements. They have become workflow tools that allow analysts to take care of a process rather than just giving a data point. The advancements in analytical balances come not from hardware but from user interface and software algorithms that translate electrical signals to weight. Lower measurement uncertainty arises from higher data acquisition speed and the efficiency of the algorithmic evaluation that turns data points into weight data. Improved algorithms provide benefits beyond better, faster weighing results. Since the weigh cells are much more reliable and robust, they maintain performance longer and therefore require less frequent calibration and maintenance.

Our readers’ top ten most important factors/features in their decisions to purchase a lab balance:

  Important
Reliability 97%
Durability 95%
Price 92%
Low maintenance 90%
High Precision 85%
Easy Cleaning 85%
Reputation 77%
Past Experience 74%
Auto Calibration 68%
Sealed Control Panel 57%

 

For more information on lab balances, including useful articles and a list of manufacturers, visit www.labmanager.com/balances

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