Starting and Maintaining Your First Laboratory (Part 4) - Get the Right Equipment and Get to Work!

Computers and Technology EquipmentStart planning ahead regarding what computers and technology you will order for your lab (and how many), as bulk orders often receive discounts.

  • Computers - don’t think of just office computers.  Most major lab equipment (i.e. protein purification machines, HPLCs, gel boxes, dark rooms, etc.) requires its own computer station.  Plan accordingly.
  • Printers - same advice as above
  • Cameras, microscopes, and lenses

Equipment – Large These are major equipment purchases that will either be one-time or very rare.  Most of the equipment will be very expensive, so unless it will be crucial to your day-to-day research, ask neighboring labs or research centers if they have a piece of equipment that you might be able to use every once in a while before investing in it right from the start.

Buy equipment that you are familiar with and that you know how to operate. When considering product A over product B from different companies (carrying different price tags) it is better to pay more to include an extended warranty as current experience with manufacturer’s products show that these products operate without a hiccup up to the warranty limit and not much more than that. Always try to negotiate for an extended warranty. The costs of technician visits and parts can be outrageously expensive!  Sometimes it is worth investing in expensive equipment, especially if this specific equipment is expected to be heavily used as one of the core devices in the lab.  Examples include:

  • Refrigerators/freezers (including cooling units for FPLC or mini-fridges to keep under a benchtop)
  • Laminar flow cabinets
  • Darkroom materials
  • Any major purification equipment (for cold room and lab)
  • Glove box (if necessary)
  • Large centrifuge or ultracentrifuge
  • Hoods and incubators for tissue culture room
  • Shaker