From Durability to Design: Top Considerations When Choosing Lab Benches for Your Research

considerations when buying lab benches

Let's face it, fitting out a research lab can feel like furnishing a high-security kitchen. You need the right tools for the job, but safety and functionality come first, right? Well, that's where lab benches sometimes known as lab workstations come in. They're the workhorses of your research haven, the platform where your scientific discoveries come to life.

But choosing the perfect lab workstation isn't just about finding a sturdy surface. It's about creating a safe and efficient workspace that supports your specific research needs. In this blog, we'll delve into the key considerations you need to make when selecting a workstation for your Australian research lab. We'll cover everything from durability to design, ensuring you pick the bench that optimises your lab and makes those discovery moments that much sweeter.

Top Considerations When Choosing Laboratory Benches 

Material

The material of your laboratory bench is like your armor on the battlefield of scientific discovery. It needs to shield you from sneaky chemical spills, surprise heat attacks from Bunsen burners, and the occasional dropping of test tubes. So, here’s some popular choices to find your perfect champion:

  • Stainless Steel: Stainless steel is the king of toughness. It shakes off harsh chemicals, laughs at scorching hot beakers, and keeps things squeaky clean with its smooth, easy-to-wipe surface. This makes it a superstar in sterile environments like microbiology labs. Plus, stainless steel is practically invincible against scratches, dents, and rust, so it will be your loyal companion for years to come.
  • Epoxy Resin: This versatile material is like a knight with a magic shield. It repels chemical attacks, boasts a surface that's impervious to liquids hiding in cracks, and cleans up with a single swipe. Plus, it has antimicrobial superpowers to keep your workspace extra hygienic.
  • Phenolic Resin: This option is easy on the wallet. It fights off chemicals, fungus, and bacteria, and has a smooth surface that's a breeze to keep clean. However, phenolic resin isn't quite as durable as stainless steel or doesn't pack the germ-fighting punch of epoxy resin. Just remember, while it might seem like a budget win at first, replacing a phenolic resin bench due to scratches or chemical wear could erase those savings.

Sizing

Your lab workstation is like your scientific mission control center, and it needs to fit your team and your experiments perfectly. Here's how to find the perfect fit:

  • Length and Width: First things first, grab your measuring tape and scope out your lab space. Then, think about how many researchers will be using the bench at once. You want enough elbow room for everyone to move around comfortably and set up their experiments without restrictions.
  • Shape Up: The shape of your bench depends on your lab's layout and workflow. Straight benches are classic and ideal for linear workflows. L-shaped benches maximise corner space, perfect for labs with smaller square footage. Additionally, U-shaped benches create a central workspace, fostering collaboration between researchers.

Pro Tip: Don't forget the placement of essential lab equipment like sinks, eye wash stations, and chemical fume hoods. Make sure these are within easy reach of your benches without disrupting the flow of your research.

Ergonomics

Adjustable benches allow researchers to customise the height of their workspace to their individual needs. This promotes good posture and reduces strain on the back, neck, and shoulders. Hence you have a happier and more productive research team. No more hunching over microscopes or straining to reach that beaker in the back.

storage and shelves for laboratory

Storage Solutions

Taming the clutter with the right storage solutions will keep your research flowing smoothly. Here's how to turn your bench into a haven of efficiency:

  • Built-in Cabinets and Drawers: These are your secret weapons against clutter. Frequently used equipment and supplies can be stashed away within easy reach, keeping your benchtop clear for action. Think of your beakers, flasks, and pipettes nestled comfortably within these drawers, ready for use at any moment.
  • Overhead Shelves: When benchtop space is at a premium, overhead shelves come to the rescue. They're perfect for storing less frequently used items ensuring everything has its designated place. Your extra bottles of solvent or backups of safety gear can find their home here, freeing up valuable benchtop space for your ongoing experiments.
  • Drawers with Dividers: Not all tools are created equal. Drawers with dividers are like tiny filing cabinets for your lab essentials. They help you categorise and separate different equipment, saving you some precious time searching for that test tube cap or that pipette tip. 

Durability and Maintenance

Your lab table needs to be a sturdy and reliable partner, but it also plays a key role in safety. To begin with, select a material that will be easy to clean, resistant to wear, and damage-free. This way, you will save yourself not only time and money but will also contribute to a safer work environment.

Also, consider surfaces that can accommodate the chemicals with which you will be working. As a rule, always remember that a bench, when damaged or poorly maintained, will become an item of contamination. It’s a little like a living organism or a safety hazard.

Equipment Compatibility

Ever tried to put a square peg in a round hole? That's what one may feel when using non-compatible equipment with one's lab workstation. Therefore, make sure the benches you are thinking of are compatible with the equipment you will use. This includes the likes of microscopes, centrifuges, and other laboratory instruments.

Look at bench weight capacity to be sure that the bench can support your equipment, and also the work surface stability to eliminate any vibration that could transfer to delicate instruments. Don't forget to account for the footprint of your equipment and make sure there's enough space for them on the benchtop.

Safety Features

Safety is one of the most important considerations within any lab. When choosing your lab workstations, various features must be considered. This is to ensure that the benches will help to reduce the risk and protect the researchers from possible hazards. These are some of the key safety features to look for:

  • Chemical resistance: Surfaces with chemical resistance will protect the bench from exposure to strong chemicals that would otherwise eat away at the surface. Aside from ensuring safety, this is also essential for the longevity of your bench.
  • Containment for spills: Raised edges, cup sinks, or built-in spill trays all assist in offering a way of containing spills so that they are not able to run over the lab floor, causing the lab users to slip and fall.
  • Integrating safety shields or barriers: While performing research that includes working with dangerous chemicals or fumes, safety barriers are important. So, no matter what kind of research activity you are involved in, make sure your benches have integrated safety shields or barriers. These shields make sure that there is increased protection for you and your fellow researchers.
  • Fire Resistance: Some laboratory benches come with fire-resistant surfaces and materials, providing extra protection in labs where open flames or flammable materials are used.
  • Sturdy Construction: A well-built frame can support heavy equipment and prevent accidents caused by collapsing or tipping benches.

Budget Considerations

Laboratory benches are an investment, so it's important to find a balance between value and budget. Consider the cost of the benches, but also factor in long-term costs. These factors can be from maintenance, and repairs, to potential replacement down the line. More durable and easier-to-maintain materials might have a higher initial cost, but they can save you money in the long run. So, before making a final decision, get quotes from different suppliers and compare features and warranties.

Compliance

Your lab tables need to comply with relevant safety and regulatory standards to ensure a safe working environment and efficient research operations. The  Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)] sets safety standards for workplaces, including laboratories. Make sure your benches comply with relevant OSHA guidelines for ergonomics, chemical resistance, and other safety considerations.

Craft Your Dream Lab with Science Equip

Your lab bench isn't just furniture – it's the foundation of your research. So, don’t ever settle for a generic workstation. Transform your research space with benches that are meticulously chosen to empower your scientific endeavors.

Science Equip, your trusted partner in equipping scientific exploration, unveils the secrets to selecting the ideal laboratory bench. From ergonomic considerations to specialised features, we've got you covered.

Now it's your turn to architect the lab of your dreams. With Science Equip's extensive selection and expert guidance, you're just a few steps away from crafting a scientific sanctuary that fuels your research journey. Contact us today!

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