2012 Microplate Reader Survey Results

By Lab Manager

Microplate readers are used to discern either physical, chemical, or biological events in microtiter plates and are common in academia and the biotech, pharmaceutical, and drug discovery industries, as well as in research. These instruments are continuing to progress towards better throughput, flexibility and functionality as users demand even greater instrument reliability, easy-to-use software and a short learning curve. In academic research, 96-well plates are the most common, while in industry, 384-well plates are the norm. The latest microplate readers have also been affected by the need to use fewer reagents and consume less sample. Those looking to buy a new microplate reader should consider their current vs. future needs and whether or not they require single or multimode reading capabilities.

The primary applications readers are using their microplate readers for in their labs include:

Assay development 18%
Authenticity and traceability 1%
Bioassay validation 10%
Biomarker research 7%
Biomolecule concentration measurement 13%
Cell biology 12%
Compound investigation 4%
Disease studies 6%
DNA quantification 7%
High-throughput drug screening 3%
In vitro fertilization (IVF) 1%
PCR setup and cleanup 2%
Proteomics 4%
Quality control 7%
Stem cell research 3%
Other 2%

Our survey respondents are using the following microplate reader components in their labs:

Additional stacker cassettes 5%
Barcode scanner 7%
Bulk dispensing 9%
Centrifugation 15%
De-lidding stacker cassettes 1%
High-speed robot 4%
Labeling and sealing 6%
Microplate washers 22%
Microplate handlers 7%
Microplate stackers 6%
Microplate robotics 5%
Microplate sealers 10%
Other 2%

Although a mature product category, microplate readers are evolving towards greater functionality, flexibility, and throughput. All top instrument makers are focusing at least some efforts on multiplexing. Users want a short learning curve, user-friendly software, and instrument reliability, while vendors are introducing evolutionary improvements in performance, reliability, user interface, and support. There are more than 25 vendors. With so many vendors competing for modestly growing research and high-throughput markers, there has been a steady stream of technologic innovation and price reductions.

Users are also big on ease of use, reliability, robustness, validation capabilities, throughput, automation, and service. Ease of use includes the user interface and software; validation capabilities, once solely the domain of environmental, forensics, and pharmaceutical labs, are gaining popularity among non-regulated industries as well. Automation and throughput are significant factors for medium- to high-throughput labs, but not to academic and basic research organizations.

The top 10 factors/features that had the biggest impact in our readers’ decisions to buy microplate readers include:

  Important Not Important Don't Know
Ease of use 94% 4% 2%
Sensitivity 93% 6% 1%
Product performance for intended application 90% 5% 5%
Price 87% 6% 7%
Low maintenance/ operating costs 83% 11% 6%
Service and support 82% 10% 7%
Flexibility (available detection modes) 78% 15% 7%
Software for data collection/analysis 78% 13% 10%
Warranty 78% 16% 6%
Add-on functionality and upgrade capability 75% 17% 8%

The types of microplate reader detection modes our readers are currently using or planning to purchase for their labs include:

  Currently Using Planning to Purchase
Absorbance 90% 10%
AlphaScreen 64% 36%
Fluorescence polarization 81% 19%
Time-resolved fluorescence (TRF) 70% 30%
Time-resolved fluorescence energy transfer (TR-FRET) 65% 35%
Luminescence reader 77% 23%
Multi-mode reader 70% 30%
Microplate spectrophotometer 77% 23%
Other 78% 22%

For more information on microplate readers, visit www.labmanager.com/microplates

Completed Surveys: 242

See the most recent survey results here

Categories: Surveys

Published In

Appifying the Laboratory Magazine Issue Cover
Appifying the Laboratory

Published: May 5, 2012

Cover Story

'Appifying' the Laboratory

In recent years, research labs have been a notable beneficiary as a variety of highly functional and specialized apps have gained the acceptance and even gratitude of a broad spectrum of laboratory managers, research scientists and bench technologists.
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