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2014 Microplate Reader Survey Results

Microplate readers are widely used in research, drug discovery, bioassay validation, QC, and manufacturing processes for the detection of biological, chemical, or physical processes in samples contained in microtiter plates. 

Trevor Henderson, PhD

Trevor Henderson BSc (HK), MSc, PhD (c), is the creative services director at Lab Manager.  He has more than two decades of experience in the fields of scientific...

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Top 8 Questions You Should Ask When Buying a Microplate Reader

  1. How many read modes are offered? Multiple read modes offer greater flexibility and value than single read modes.
  2. What kind of detection technology is used? Monochromator-based detection offers flexibility, convenience and spectral scanning; while filter-based detection is characterized by precise sensitivity and may often switch rapidly between distinct wavelengths for kinetic assays. Hybrid detection systems combine both technologies for the utmost in flexibility and sensitivity.
  3. Is it upgradeable? If so, can the upgrade be installed on-site? On-site installations reduce overall downtime, and often the technician is available to answer questions or conduct training.
  4. Is the reader automatable? Automating the process with a compatible microplate stacker increases throughput with walk-away operation.
  5. Ask about the software—is it integrated and user-friendly? Does it allow for pre-programmed and custom protocols? What kind of analysis is offered? How is data exported?
  6. Is on-site training available? Is there a fee? On-site training provides an opportunity for all staff to learn about the reader, reducing the number of subsequent trainings needed.
  7. What options are available? Options such as gas control, barcode scanning, shaking, and injecting increase assay flexibility for those that need these features.
  8. What assay validation data is available for the reader? Assay validation data specific for the reader provides proof that the reader performs as indicated.

Types of microplate readers used by survey respondents:

Absorbance 29%
AlphaScreen 2%
Fluorescence Polarization 9%
Time-resolved fluorescence (TRF) 5%
Time-resolved fluorescence energy transfer (TR-FRET) 5%
Luminescence Reader 15%
Multi-mode reader 14%
Microplate Spectrophotometer 21%

Microplate reader-related components used by survey respondents:

Microplate washers 26%
Centrifugation 20%
Microplate sealers 10%
Microplate handlers 8%
Barcode scanner 7%
Bulk dispensing 6%
Labeling and sealing 6%
Microplate robotics 6%
Microplate stackers 4%
High-speed robot 3%
Additional stacker cassettes 3%
Other 2%

Nearly 25% of respondents plan on purchasing a microplate reader in the next year. The reasons for these purchases are as follows: 

Addition to existing systems; increase capacity
Setting up a new lab
Replacement of an aging microplate reader
New application requires a different type of microplate reader

Top 10 features/factors respondents look for when purchasing a microplate reader:

Sensitivity 100%
Price 99%
Ease of use 99%
Flexibility (Available Detection Modes 97%
Product performance for intended application 97%
Low Maintenance/Operating costs 97%
Resolution 96%
Software for data collection/analysis 96%
Service and support 94%
Warranty 94%

Completed Surveys: 220

For more information on microplate readers, including useful articles and a list of manufacturers, visit 

See the most recent survey results here