Plastic may also be chosen over glass since it is more affordable. To the glass industry, this has had negative consequences: As demand drops, prices have experienced to increase. But, unlike disposable plastics, glass might be reused. And although more than the price of an equivalent plastic item, the buying price of a reusable glass item is diminished with each use. “Convenience carries a price,” says Nicoll. “Per-use pricing is typically higher for the disposable compared to a reusable product, even after figuring in washing and preparation costs.”
Some companies are finding a niche in your community of specialty glass. Scientists to whom a resident glassblower (see accompanying story) is not really available can turn to specialty Centrifuge with their ideas for laboratory glassware. Cal-Glass’s Cheatley recalls once being required to make glass hearts–not items of jewelry, but true replicas of human hearts through which medical researchers could practice placing catheters.
Bellco also offers specialty glass items. Sometimes, says Nicoll, items which are engineered just for one scientist prove to possess universal appeal to make their way into Bellco’s catalog. “However,” says Nicoll, “it would appear that when specialty markets grow to your certain level for the item, somebody comes along and definitely makes the item from plastic.” A lot of the more creative requests that Bellco has filled remain a secret–they arose from scientist customers within the pharmaceutical industry and so are proprietary.
Cheatley wants new markets to beat your competitors due to plastics and automation. The business recently introduced an all-glass photochemical treatment system known as the EcoStill, which extracts silver from spent photochemicals. Whilst the stills are targeted primarily for use in the photoprocessing industry, Cheatley expects these to prove beneficial in biological labs as a substitute for evaporators. Unlike standard evaporators, the EcoStill, an enclosed system, does not produce fumes, says Cheatley. And, he adds, the glass EcoStill is impervious on the chemicals that may damage standard stainless steel photochemical processors.
But sometimes glass just can’t complete the task. For example, “you can’t squeeze glass,” says Bel-Art’s Nunziata, whose company’s product line includes safety labeled squeeze bottles. Also, jugs and bottles for storage are usually made from plastic since they are simpler to handle.
In recent times, plastics are already developed with a lot of the properties in which glass is valued. As an example, polymethylpentene is definitely a clear plastic with optical qualities nearly comparable to glass. Polymethylpentene is likewise autoclavable, and it is utilized for beakers, graduated cylinders, funnels, flasks, and a lot of other items traditionally created from glass. Another clear plastic resistant against high temperatures is polycarbonate. Bel-Art markets a polycarbonate vacuum desiccator, employed to remove moisture coming from a sample. A plastic desiccator has several advantages within the traditional glass apparatus, says George McClure, an engineer and senior corporate v . p . of your company. Glass desiccators needs to be quite heavy in order to avoid implosion from atmospheric air pressure, a potentially dangerous accident. The polycarbonate may be taken right down to a complete vacuum without danger of implosion, and won’t crack or chip when it is dropped. The plastic desiccator is far less expensive than glass, McClure adds.
Plastic wasn’t always created to supplant glass, however. About forty years ago, the initial product of Rochester, N.Y.-based Nalge Co. had been a plastic pipette jar. Nalge’s founder, Emanuel Goldberg, was actually a manufacturer’s representative selling pipettes, and several of his customers complained that whenever they dropped their glass pipettes into the stainless steel storage jar, the information broke.
A chemist by training, Goldberg welded plastic bottoms to lengths of plastic pipe. “So, ironically, the initial plastic product that Nalge made was created to prevent glass pipettes from breaking,” says Gordon Hamnett, national accounts manager for Nalge. “Subsequently, the company developed plenty of goods that were designed because glass products were breaking. We created a type of beakers, graduated cylinders, and volumetric flasks, modeled greatly right after the original glass benchware that had been available commercially.” Today, about 25 percent of Nalge’s plastic products are disposable; the remainder are made to be reusable.
The demand for Pipette tip in the life science market has expanded during the last decade, in accordance with Hamnett. For uses in cell biology labs, some plastics have already been made to be more inert than glass, preventing cells from sticking with the surface. Concurrently, plastic surfaces can be treated to ensure that cells will stick and form a confluent layer more rapidly compared to they would on glass. “You may form of select the characteristics of the different types of plastic resins to meet different demands from the life science lab, where glass does not have the flexibility,” says Hamnett.
And plastic technology is continuing to evolve, allowing manufacturers to create products for specific needs that offer advantages over glass and over other sorts of plastic. Nalge includes a brand of fluoropolymer (Teflon) beakers which you can use for handling hydrofluoric acid, which “basically eats glass,” says Hamnett. The corporation is likewise experimenting with exposing a very high-density polyethylene resin to fluorine gas to make a micro-thin layer, or “skin,” of fluorine, producing a surface that has a chemical resistance just like Teflon’s, but is less costly. Nalge also has just introduced a disposable bottle made of the identical material as plastic soda pop bottles–polyethylene terephthalate (PET). “PET is a resin which includes gas barrier properties which are crucial in cell biology, where media has to be kept in a container that will minimize CO2 exchange,” says Hamnett.
But even while plastic displaces glass, new lab procedures along with a growing conservation ethic are cutting into the use of both materials. Automation and improved analytical instrumentation–often requiring really small samples–have reduced the interest in laboratory glassware, based on LaGrotte. “In past times, a scientist or possibly a technician would do many things by hand, using several types of lab glassware,” he says. “Now there are numerous instruments that you simply feed samples to, and they also do all of the analysis or mixing or whatever might have been performed by hand.”
While both glassware and ammeter now manufacture items, for example small sample vials, particularly for automated use, Hamnett says that the decline in the quantity of glassware employed for classic wet chemistry has been so great that the increase in automation-related items is not enough to balance it. Although glassware and plasticware merchandise is available today in both reusable and disposable forms, Stanley Pine, professor of chemistry at California 36dexnpky University, Los Angeles, advocates reusing even disposable items. “I’m looking to teach everybody that people don’t are living in a disposable world anymore,” says Pine. “A lot of this plastic items that was previously looked at as disposable probably needs to be cleaned and reused.”
“Cheap” utilized to mean “disposable,” Pine says. While a reusable glass pipette might cost $10, a pipette created to be disposable–created from thinner glass, with calibrations which are painted on as opposed to etched in–might sell for only $1. The manufacturer would believe that it’s cheaper to dispose of the disposable items than to deal with them and wash them, he explains. “But many of us in the academic labs have found a lot of the items that was made being disposable is in fact excellent,” Pine says. “It can be used, as an example, in several our undergraduate classes. While it doesn’t go on for twenty years, it may last for five years, and it’s probably economically advantageous.”