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2011 Glove Box Product Survey Results

Glove boxes go by many different names and are used for many purposes. Keep reading as we reveal the results of our glove boxes survey.

Glove boxes go by many different names and are used for many purposes. Their essential attribute is the ability to maintain a completely separate environment from ambient.

Glove boxes are completely closed compartments ranging in size from a few cubic feet to several hundred cubic feet. Glove boxes differ from other safety enclosures in two significant respects: users can introduce articles into glove boxes and manipulate them inside through ports fitted with gloves, and glove boxes typically use a specialized atmosphere.

Glove boxes consist of the main chamber, two glove ports and an air-locked antechamber for introducing labware and materials into the box. Opening the antechamber without taking preventative measures will introduce ambient atmosphere into the working chamber. This is dealt with by providing vacuum-assisted purging with the desired atmosphere. Sensitive applications will often add sensors for oxygen and/or water, with some type of scavenger mechanism to achieve ppm concentrations of those species. In regulated industries, the purge cycle is software-controlled and documented to ensure that materials are handled to specification.

Over 60% of labs surveyed have at least one glove box.
1 38%
2 23%
3 7%
4 4%
5 or more 16%


Glove boxes are most often found in biochemistry and biology labs, but all scientific and engineering disciplines use glove boxes for one application or another.
Biochemistry and biology 18%
Hospital/Medical center 16%
Chemical 15%
Pharmaceutical industry 9%
Microbiology 7%
Environment 5%
Food and food-related products 5%
Polymers and plastics 5%
Other 20%


Glove boxes are most commonly used when a process or operation requires low humidity or low oxygen levels, or when either the product/ process must be protected from the lab environment or the operator needs protection from the process or operation. “Isolation” and “containment” with respect to glove boxes are often used. Isolation is meant to protect the product, while containment refers to protecting the operator and/ or environment. Isolation normally involves positive pressure, while containment operates under negative pressure. Twenty-nine percent of respondents use a glove box for working with dangerous, toxic substances.
Working with dangerous, toxic or moisture-sensitive substances 29%
Cell culture 13%
Air- or moisture-sensitive analyses 12%
Storage and processing of chemicals, metals, calcium, etc. 9%
Maintaining cleanliness for microchips or fabricated parts, sensor calibration 9%
Anaerobic bacterial growth 9%
Virus production 4%
Compounding pharmacy, vaccines 4%
Other 11%


Close to fifty percent of respondents work with vendors in manufacturing a custom glove box, but most needs are served by off-the-shelf designs, with or without add-ons. Many respondents integrate standard modules with additional functionality, for example, atmosphere filter system, dry gas purge system, gas filtration, controllers, sensors, automated doors, heating and cooling capability and humidity control.
Workbench 20%
Atmosphere filter system 16%
Dry gas purge system 13%
Humidity controller 12%
Oxygen controller 12%
Moisture trap 11%
Chiller 6%
External mount lamp 4%
Other 4%


Over fifty percent of respondents’ annual glove box budgets for parts, maintenance, service and repairs is less than $1,000.
$0 - $1,000 52%
$1,000 - $2,500 14%
$2,500 - $5,000 8%
$5,000+ 6%
Don’t know 19%


On average, most respondents have their glove box for 12 years. Over 95% of respondents are satisfied with the performance of their glove box in getting the job done for the intended purpose with very little maintenance. Thirty-five percent of respondents expect to purchase a glove box within the next year. The main reason for the purchase is to accommodate additional projects or increase capacity.
Addition to existing systems, increase capacity 40%
Replacement of aging glove Box 22%
Upgrading existing glove box 14%
Setting up a new lab 12%
First-time purchase of a glove box 9%
Other 3%


Materials of construction are a significant glove box feature. Acrylics are transparent and inexpensive, but life science applications that demand sterility require boxes made of sturdier materials that hold up better to cleaning and constant use. Stainless steel is most easily treated with a variety of cleaners and is the most durable material of construction, but is the most expensive. Most pharmaceutical glove boxes are made of stainless steel with sanitary fittings, as is required by Good Manufacturing Practices.
  Currently using Purchasing
Vinyl 23%/td> 26%
Aluminum 12% 10%
Polymer 30% 22%
Stainless Steel 26% 29%
Other 10% 14%


Price is the principal factor affecting most glove box purchase decisions, as most of the respondents have to watch their budgets.
Price 44%
Ease of use 41%
Safety 33%
Low maintenance/operating costs 31%
Ease of installation 28%
Availability of accessories/options 21%
Product performance for intended application 19% 14%
Ergonomic design 18%
Energy efficient 14%
Service and support 13%
Reputation of manufacturer 13%
Small footprint 12%
Warranty 11%
Other 5%


The price of a glove box ranges from $500 to $50,000, from simple plastic boxes to sophisticated mini clean rooms that meet ISO sterility requirements.
Less than $1,000 53%
$1,000 - $5,000 21%
$5,000 - $15,000 9%
$15,000 - $25,000 6%
$25,000 - $50,000 4%
$50,000+ 8%

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