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2017 Microplate Reader User Survey Results

Learn the most common components and more from our latest microplate survey results

Erica Tennenhouse, PhD

Erica Tennenhouse, PhD, is the managing editor of Clinical Lab Manager.

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Microplate readers are commonly used in biological research for assay development, measurement of biomolecule concentration, cell biology, biomarker research, and DNA quantification. 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.

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 64%
Microplate spectrophotometer 39%
Luminescence reader 34%
Multi-mode reader 30%
Fluorescence polarization 15%
Time-resolved fluorescence (TRF) 12%
Time-resolved fluorescence energy transfer (TR-FRET) 7%
AlphaScreen 2%

Microplate reader components used by survey respondents:

Microplate washers 47%
Centrifugation 29%
Barcode scanner 20%
Microplate sealers 14%
Additional stacker cassettes 14%
Microplate stackers 12%
Microplate robotics 11%
Bulk dispensing 9%
Microplate handlers 4%
Labelling and sealing 3%
De-lidding stacker cassettes 1%
High-speed robot 1%
Other 18%

Nearly 30% 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, increase capacity
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 79%
Sensitivity 73%
Low maintenance/operating costs 65%
Price 65%
Resolution 63%
Software for data collection/analysis 62%
Flexibility (available detection modes) 59%
Service and support 56%
Warranty 50%

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

See the most recent survey results here