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Purchasing Guide: Centrifuges

The centrifuge is a key workhorse of the lab

by Lab Manager
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Centrifuges are key workhorses in many laboratories to separate fluids based on density and particle size. Gravitational force causes particles of higher density in relation to the solvent to sink, and those of lower density to float to the top of the solution. The differences in density needed to separate particles within a solution can be very small. There are many different sizes and types of centrifuges available to fit the requirements of a variety of applications. For a list of centrifuge manufacturers, see our online directory:

5 Questions to Ask When Buying a Centrifuge:

  1. What is the maximum capacity you will require?
  2. What format will your samples be in (e.g., tubes or blood bags)?
  3. What g-force and speed are required for your application?
  4. How much laboratory space is available? There are many different sizes of floor-standing and benchtop models available.
  5. Will you require refrigeration and temperature control?

Visually Estimating Sample Volumes

Although it may be a convenient shortcut, forgoing the use of a high-precision balance and instead estimating sample volume is a bad habit. Because centrifuges amplify mass, even the smallest differences between the fill levels of opposing tubes can result in unstable spinning, which can damage both the centrifuges and the samples. Never rely on eyeballing your centrifuge samples.

Ensuring Sample Integrity in Centrifugation

Ensuring integrity when working with high-capacity sample formats can be a challenge. To address this, some vendors have started offering sterilized, single-use centrifuge bags to minimize cross-contamination while harvesting and purifying cells from bioreactors. Learn more at