Laboratory equipment: 23 essential objects and instruments

Most of the scientific progress of the last centuries has been made possible by technological advances and the effort of their application in the study of phenomena in different branches or aspects of reality, usually by experimental research.

Although this research can be done in different ways and in different places, it is usually done in some kind of laboratory, where there are enough elements and conditions to generate experiments capable of verifying or analyzing samples, as well as to breed under controlled conditions. the phenomena or situations to be studied.

And in this context stresses the need for adequate equipment and sufficient laboratory equipment. Throughout this article, we’ll talk about the different elements that make up the latter, at least in terms of the more basic of what’s usually available in general.

    Laboratory equipment: basic items

    We can understand by laboratory equipment all the utensils and instruments that a laboratory needs to be able to carry out the research or experiments necessary in order to generate knowledge and analyze the phenomenon of the reality studied.

    On the other hand, although the concept of the laboratory is associated with the idea of ​​experimentation, it should be clarified that technically, laboratory instruments are not only used in this type of research design, but also in d other types of studies. For example, it is not uncommon to leave samples under observation to see how they behave over time, and this does not involve manipulating what is being studied.

    It should be noted that there is a wide variety of types of laboratoriesEach of them needs specialized equipment in the field of study in which they work: they do not need the same type of material from a physics laboratory as they do from chemistry, for example. The material below is what is generally considered to be the most basic and most associated with the laboratory prototype, perhaps with an orientation towards chemistry, biology and medicine.

    1. Test

    This small transparent tube, which has a base that allows it to be supported, and its main function is to measure the volume of a liquid or a solid (according to Archimedes’ principle). It is one of the fundamental materials of any laboratory, and researchers in the fields of chemistry, biology and allied sciences use them constantly when in an experimental setting or observing substances or micro -organisms.

    2. Test tube

    A type of tube, similar to a test tube but without a base, into which liquids, solutions or samples to analyze or experiment are usually poured. The test tube tends to be smaller than the average test tube, and is easier to transport and store (with the use of the instrument which we will see below).

    3. Grid / grid

    When using test tubes, we need to be able to leave them in a fixed place to work from, keeping in mind that they do not have a support base. This is why a grid or a shelf can be very useful to put them down, especially when we have several samples.

    The shelves can take different shapes and sizes depending on the number of tubes they contain and the criteria used to classify them into different categories.

    4. Microscopes

    Although the first laboratories did not have this material, the invention of the microscope was a revolution at the scientific level, making it possible to examine matter, its composition and structure and its interaction with the environment at a level indistinguishable in the human eye.

    Today, few laboratories do not have one. In addition, technological development in recent years has led to the design of microscopes capable of seeing even all the details of organelles of cells and parts of unicellular organisms.

    5. Petri dish

    Small, round, transparent container with a lid, which is typically used to place samples of tissues, bacteria, and cells for later generation of cultures.

    The Petri dish usually provides an easy way to see patterns of growth or decay of bacterial populations, which are sometimes observed with the naked eye on the smooth surface of the Petri dish.

    6. Burette

    Long instrument similar to a mixture between test tube and funnel, the burette allows to determine the volume of a liquid or a solution at the same time which has a handle or a stopcock to allow the regulation of the passage of the liquid .

    7. Slides

    Similar to the above, a slide is usually a small, thin plate of glass or plastic on which a minimal part of the sample to be analyzed is placed (for example, a drop of blood), in order to be able to observe the microscope. .


    Laboratory instrument usually made of glass or plastic that allows to measure the volume of a substance that can be poured in a controlled way by one of its ends, being able to easily determine the quantity of substance that has come out.

    9. Bottle

    A larger container, and usually in the form of a test tube with the enlarged closed end, is used to hold substances, mix or distill them. They exist of several types, being one of the most known of Erlenmeyer.

    10. Funnel

    Especially in chemistry, it is common that there are several types of funnels which allow to mix the different compounds in a controlled way or to separate solids from liquids. It emphasizes that of the decantation (which allows to regulate with a handle the quantity of substance which is filtered).

    11. Agitator / mixer

    It is understood as a stirrer for any instrument which allows by means of its movement the uniform mixing of the samples with which it works.

    Traditionally, a wand was used, but nowadays there are electronic mixers or with different mechanisms, many of which use electromagnets.

    12. Scale

    Being able to weigh precisely what we study is fundamental in a large number of scientific disciplines, which is why a scale or a scale (currently mainly digital) are basic instruments.

    13. Tweezers

    Tweezers are very necessary in a laboratory, usually to contain a specific instrument or to move certain elements of the samples that we are analyzing. There is a wide variety of tweezers available depending on whether grip strength or precision is a priority.

    14. Scalpel

    Particularly in sciences such as medicine or chemistry, it may be necessary to make precise sections to make or separate a sample from the material to be analyzed (for example to make a biopsy). In this sense, a scalpel is essential to separate certain organic tissues from others.

    15. Spatula

    With a similar appearance to a round knife, it is a useful tool for collecting small solids in powder form.

    16. Lima

    Sometimes it may be necessary to classify an object or material in order to extract a small sample or even cut a particular material.

    17. Spoon

    Something as basic as a teaspoon is also a useful instrument in a lab, especially if we are making some sort of solution that requires the use of chemical element powder.

    18. Sweep

    The cleaning of laboratory equipment, both before and after use, is a fundamental thing that can in fact greatly affect the results of experiments or analysis. This is why a broom that can clean vials or test tubes, for example, is a must.

    19. Bottle of washing machine

    In general, to clean the material used, we will need something more than a brush, and it is necessary to apply water to clean it. The wash bottle is usually filled with distilled water or some type of alcohol, which allows for comfortable application in the instrument.

    20. Lighter / lighter / stove

    In many experiments and with many chemical substances and reactions, it may be necessary to heat the components to be used or even cause them to ignite. Obviously, we are talking about our own lab equipment, not the day-to-day workers.

    21. thermometer

    Knowing the temperature at which a substance or a sample is located can be essential to be able to study it correctly or even to be able to store it (for example in the case of living organs or cells such as semen). In this sense, it is useful to use some kind of thermometer.

      22. Dropper

      Another instrument which, although extremely simple, is common in different types of laboratories. However, it should be noted that the amount of substance expelled can be more or less precise and that different instruments can sometimes have the same function (such as the handle in a settling funnel).

      23. Computer

      This instrument may seem obvious, but the truth is that the computing power of a computer allows you to record and even automate specific processes to use when experimenting with a level of precision and detail that could cost money. much longer to a human being. In most cases, a normal PC but with specialized software for data analysis is sufficient, but in special cases the volume of information you are working with is such that supercomputers like those available in some universities are required.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Atkins J. and Jones, L. (2012). Principles of chemistry. The paths of discovery, 5th ed. Pan-American Medical Publishing House, Madrid.
      • Bawer JD. (1996). Clinical analysis, methods and interpretation. Barcelona. Ed. Restored.
      • Patnaik, P. (2003). Dean’s Manual of Analytical Chemistry. New York: McGraw-Hill.
      • Vinck, D. (2010). The sociology of scientific work. The Lypiatts: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited.

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