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2015 Microplate Reader Product Survey

Microplate readers are commonly used in biological research for assay development (39.4%), measurement of biomolecule concentration (34.5%), cell biology (25%), biomarker research (24.0%), and DNA quantification (20% of survey respondents). In addition, microplate readers find use in disease study, IVF, proteomics, PCR setup, and stem cell research. With multiple read modes available and numerous accessories, choosing a microplate reader that meets your current and future needs can prove a daunting task.

Trevor Henderson, PhD

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 reader used by survey respondents:

Absorbance 59%
AlphaScreen 3%
Fluorescence polarization 12%
Time-resolved fluorescence (TRF) 10%
Time-resolved fluorescence energy transfer (TR-FRET) 3%
Luminescence reader 31%
Multi-mode reader 33%
Microplate spectrophotometer 46%
Other 1%

Microplate reader components used by survey respondents:

Additional stacker cassettes 6%
Barcode scanner 18%
Bulk dispensing 8%
Centrifugation 27%
De-lidding stacker cassettes 2%
High-speed robot 5%
Labelling and sealing 9%
Microplate washers 52%
Microplate handlers 6%
Microplate stackers 8%
Microplate robotics 9%
Microplate sealers 16%
Other 9%

Nearly 24% of respondents are engaged in purchasing a new microplate reader. The reasons for these purchases are as follows:

Replacement of an aging system
Addition to existing systems
Setting up a new lab
First time purchase

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

Ease-of-use 82%
Product performance for intended application 78%
Sensitivity 69%
Price 67%
Low maintenance/operating costs 65%
Software for data collection/analysis 60%
Flexibility (available detection modes) 59%
Service and support 58%
Resolution 57%
Warranty 48%

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

See the most recent survey results here