How to Select the Right Pipettes for Your Lab (A Full Guide) (2024)

There is a wide variety of pipettes available for clinical, forensic, drug discovery, chemistry, or any other life science research and analysis protocol you have. For experiments that need reliable and accurate liquid handling during sample preparation, you need to select the right pipettes for your lab if you want reproducible results.

Having the right equipment can make or break any experiment that requires liquid handling. Whether working with manual pipettes or an automated pipetting solution, accurate and repeatable results are the main goal for any researcher—and this often depends on the instruments you use.

In this guide, you'll learn about the latest pipettes available and how to select the right one for your experiment.

Key Takeaways:
  • Selecting a pipette for your experiment depends on the application and type of liquid you want to handle.
  • With manual and automated pipetting solutions available, you can choose a pipette that helps you increase throughput without compromising accuracy or repeatability.
  • Pipettes used for manual protocols need to be ergonomic and easy to use.
  • You should also consider automated liquid handlers when you need to increase your sampling capacity.

Selecting the Right Pipettes for Your Lab

Choosing the right pipette for your lab will depend on the application involved. You'll need to consider the type of liquid, the sampling volumes, task complexity, and the throughput required for your experiments.

There are a few major parameters to consider before you can narrow down your options to the right instrument. These are:

  • Transfer volume – Pipettes come in different volume ranges and you need to match the pipette to your intended sample volumes.
  • Liquid properties – Volumetric accuracy may depend on the type of liquid you are transferring, especially when working with viscous, corrosive, or volatile liquids.
  • Vessel types – Some pipettes are better suited when working with specific labware formats required in your protocols.
  • Required throughput – Choosing between certain pipetting and robotic liquid handling systems usually depends on how much throughput you need over a certain period of time.
  • Tip quality and availability – Apart from choosing the pipette itself, you'll also need to ensure you have high-quality pipette tips available for your experiments.

Air-displacement pipettes work well with aqueous liquids, but when you're handling problematic liquids, you'll need a positive-displacement model. Some of the biggest sources of pipetting errors are simply due to not selecting the right pipette for the liquid handling application involved.

How to Select the Right Pipettes for Your Lab (A Full Guide) (1)

Types of Pipettes to Consider for Your Experiments

There are also some collective considerations for choosing the right pipettes for your lab. If you'll be doing manual pipetting, you should select an instrument with a lightweight, ergonomic design to give you the ability to pipette longer without fatigue. Additionally, you'll need to know if the device features a volume-locking mechanism, or is autoclavable. Depending on your applications, you can also choose pipettes with a fixed volume.

Below, we discuss some of the best pipette types to select for your lab.

1. Fixed Volume Pipettes

A fixed volume pipette is adjusted and factory calibrated at a specific volume, and dispenses the same quantity of liquid every time you pipette. Our PIPETMAN® L Fixed air-displacement pipette comes in fifteen different models that cover a range of volumes between 1 μL and 5 mL. With a lightweight design and a fixed volume that eliminates the risk of any volume error, these are the ideal pipettes for clinical diagnostics, quality control, and routine testing applications even for lesser trained lab technicians. These pipettes allow the lab techs to work faster and more confidently without having to adjust or verify the volume setting of the pipette.

Other benefits of fixed volume pipettes are:

  • Reliable and accurate volume results according to your precise application
  • Comfortable and ergonomic design for repetitive pipetting procedures
  • Improved GLP compliance with a DataMatrix 2D code for easy traceability
  • An economical solution that provides precision and accuracy for routine applications beyond industry standards
  • 2. Pipettes for Viscous or Volatile Liquids

    Positive-displacement technology, like that used in our MICROMAN® E pipettes, is ideal when working with infectious, viscous, foaming, hot, cold, or volatile liquids.

    The disposable piston within the capillary piston (CP) tip is in direct contact with the sample. The CP technology thus removes any air cushion inside the pipette and ensures the volume accuracy is not affected by the fluid's properties. This also helps prevent contamination and protects the sample, the user, and the pipette.

    A MICROMAN E pipette gives you:

    • Complete and reliable dispensing of viscous and dense samples
    • No leaks when pipetting high vapor pressure liquids
    • Accurate volume delivery regardless of sample temperature
    • Prevention from aerosols or sample carry-over
    • Volume range of 1 μL to 1,000 μL across six different models
    • Ability to work with liquids like blood, oils, glycerol, or other radiolabeled or infectious solutions
    • How to Select the Right Pipettes for Your Lab (A Full Guide) (2)

      Figure 1. Comparison of the air-displacement and positive-displacement pipettes. Panel A shows the working principle of air-displacement pipettes with the piston integrated into the lower part of the pipette and an air cushion between the sample and the piston. Panel B describes positive-displacement pipettes: the disposable piston is part of the capillary tip and there is no air cushion that could be affected by the properties of the sample.

      3. Manual Pipetting for Increased Productivity

      A single or multichannel PIPETMAN® L features reduced pipetting and tip ejection forces, a lightweight and improved ergonomics for a better balance and more comfortable use of the pipette. The design helps you pipette for longer without suffering from fatigue that could introduce errors into the sampling process. With improved comfort, PIPETMAN L offers accuracy and repeatability levels greater than the ISO 8655 requirements and meets the demand of users who need comfortable, secure, and reliable pipetting activities.

      PIPETMAN L variable volume pipettes are:

    • Fully autoclavable without requiring disassembly
    • Equipped with a true volume-locking mechanism to avoid accidental volume changes
    • Suitable for left- and right-handed users with an adjustable tip ejector button
    • Compatible with other brand's pipette tips (PIPETMAN L multichannel models equipped with V-Rings)
    • Available in a single channel range of between 0.2 μL and 10 mL, and multichannel models of between 0.5 μL and 1,200 μL
    • 4. Connected Pipetting for Improved Traceability

      For repetitive manual pipetting tasks, a Bluetooth® -connected pipette may help bring greater traceability to the lab. The PIPETMAN® M Connected pipette interacts in real-time with the TRACKMAN® Connected pipetting system, making planning and executing pipetting protocols faster, easier, and more reliable. It also offers accuracy and precision in both standard and repetitive pipetting modes, which helps to reduce errors in the lab.

      Other benefits include:

    • Requires virtually no pipetting forces to aspirate and dispense samples, which helps reduce fatigue
    • Five pipetting modes for many applications; the modes are pipette, repetitive, mix, reverse, and custom
    • Bluetooth® connection enables communication with TRACKMAN Connected, allowing for sample tracking and digital reporting after your workflow is complete
    • Simple and comfortable to use – aspirate and dispense with one click of the push button and eject tips with ease
    • 5. Maximizing Throughput when Pipetting Microplates

      In situations where you need to fill 96- to 384-well microplates accurately and repeatedly, the PLATEMASTER® is easy to use and provides high-throughput to match your lab's needs. You can reduce error while increasing your throughput without compromising on accuracy. With the PLATEMASTER, you're able to fill 96-well microplates in as little as 20 seconds and a 384-well plate in less than a minute.

      The PLATEMASTER allows you to:

    • Accurately pipette volumes between 0.5 μL to 220 μL in high-throughput applications
    • Eliminate human error such as skipping or repeating wells when using a multichannel pipetting process
    • Configure the perfect manual pipetting bench-top solution using a range of accessories, including reagent reservoirs
    • Pipette larger volumes of samples using a small, bench-top manual pipetting solution
    • 6. Automated Pipetting with Liquid Handling Robots

      For maximum throughput, while maintaining accuracy and repeatability, a PIPETMAX® automated pipetting solution provides an efficient platform for many liquid handling protocols. Researchers at the University of Missouri can prepare samples for 2,000 RT-qPCR reactions every week using a PIPETMAX liquid handler.

      A PIPETMAX bench-top liquid handling solution can:

    • Handle volumes between 1 μL and 1,200 μL using up to 8 pipette tips simultaneously
    • Conduct qPCR, NGS library, and cell-based assays with a variety of pre-developed, validated protocols
    • Use the tried and trusted PIPETMAN technology in an automated liquid handling station
    • Free up your staff to conduct research-based tasks instead of pipetting liquids for their experiments
    • Improve Your Pipetting Accuracy and Throughput with Gilson

      At Gilson, we provide access to the instruments and consumables that you need to produce trusted results. Our liquid handling solutions ensure that you can achieve your desired level of throughput without compromising on your experiments' precision, accuracy, or repeatability.

      Pipettes Designed with You in Mind

      For more than 50 years, we’ve been creating pipettes with accuracy, comfort, and reliability as a top priority. Today, we offer a variety of pipettes in a range of ergonomic designs and volume sizes that enhance your pipetting experience and help you achieve reproducible, reliable results.


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How to Select the Right Pipettes for Your Lab (A Full Guide) (2024)
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