Laboratory Shakers | Journey Into Medical Technology

laboratory shakers - journey into medical technology

A laboratory shaker is a device that shakes

samples of liquids and other substances in order

to mix them. Laboratory shakers are used for

mixing solids, as well as for shaking solutions or

suspensions. Depending on the type of material

being shaken, different types of laboratory

shakers can be utilized. In general, there are six

major categories which include: mechanical

agitation, magnetic agitation, ultrasonic agitation,

orbital shaking (or rotation), vibratory stirring

Laboratory Shakers - Journey Into Medical Technology (Pinterest Pin)

and probe-tipped agitators. Shakers are a common tool whenever substances need mixing. mixing is one of

the most commonly use laboratory operations due to the fact that there have been so many automated

mixing methods through out the years, which removes the burden of the person operating by offering a

sustained and controlled stirring action for long period’s of time. This blog will discuss the various styles

and uses for laboratory shakers and what you should consider when choosing one that best suits your

needs.

What Are Shakers?

Incubator shaker in chemical laboratory
laboratory shaker and flasks with solution
Laboratory shaker and flasks with solution

A shaker is a type of machine that is used to mix,

blend, or agitate chemicals or other substances.

Shakers have a oscillating board inside of it that

is used to place test The principle application of

shaker is for growing yeast, bacteria, or

mammalian cells in specialized containers known

as shaker bottles. Stirrers came into play to

replace the shakers, although it is still ideal

choice whenever a large volume of substances

or when multiple instances of agitation is

required.

How Do Shakers Work?

Lab Shakers use oscillation (oscillating motion) to

agitate substances. The shaker table moves back

and forth in harmonic motion, creating an orbit for

test tubes, flasks, etc. to move within. This circular

movement achieves thorough mixing without

walls or lids touching the sample. Shakers use the

principle of Shaking (see Shaking vs. Stirring).

Shakers can be used both vertically or horizontally

to suit various vessels, such as test tubes or

flasks, depending on the model. 

Lab Sieve Shakers Diaphram

What Is Shaking/Agitation?

Female Scientists Working in Laboratory. Mixing Solution in Glass Beaker

When speaking about laboratory shakers there

are two types of shaking mentioned: orbital

shaking (or rotation) and vibrational stirring.

Orbital Shaking is any type of oscillating motion.

Shaking creates a sloshing effect on an object

containing a  fluid, the sloshing of which is usually

imparted by moving or vibrating one end of an

object back and forth so that it moves in an orbit,

i.e., circular movement around a pivot

point. Shaking can be done with any type of shaker to create gentle/weak mixing force. Shakers have

oscillation but the agitation provided is gentle meaning it will take more time to mix your samples

properly. Vibrational Shaking – Used for more difficult mixtures that require extremely thorough mixing.

Shakers work best at a frequency range from 30-300 rpm (increments vary from model to model) while

agitators are typically 300-2000 rpm. Shakers are very gentle with the materials being mixed while

agitators offer a high level of agitation. Shaking works best on larger volume mixtures than stirring.

Shakers usually have the capability of shaking both horizontally and vertically for testing different types of

samples. They are typically powered by electric motors that are run using 120V/60Hz power whereas

agitators are powered by more powerful motors that require special wiring. Shakers turn by the action of

an eccentric weight rotating around a central pivot. Shakers are typically much larger than mixers.

Shakers can easily break objects because of their high-speed rotation Shaking requires more time to

properly mix samples because it is gentle and slower Shaking is ideal for liquids whereas stirring can be

used for both liquids and dry samples.

Shaking/Mixing vs. Stirring

Shaking/Mixing vs. Stirring: Shaking versus stirring refers to a certain type of motion employed when

mixing substances together. Shaking involves circular motions along an orbital path, whereas stirring

involves linear or rotational motions within a sample. Shaking is found superior because it ensures that all

surfaces inside a container come into contact with fluid as well as providing very gentle agitation where as

stirring usually causes the walls of the container to make contact with the solution which can lead to the

sample being exposed to shear stress. Shaking is suitable for liquids which require gentle agitation.

Shaking is better suited for lyophilization shaking is capable of providing shear force whereas stirring isn’t.

Shakers can be used to vortex samples because are more powerful than mixers. Shakers have a quieter

operation, they also have a larger range of speeds, shakers may shake vertically and horizontally while

stirrers only move in a single orientation.

Mixing vs. Agitating Mixing

Shaking/Mixing vs. Stirring: Shaking versus stirring refers to a certain type of motion employed when

mixing substances together. Shaking involves circular motions along an orbital path, whereas stirring

involves linear or rotational motions within a sample. Shaking is found superior because it ensures that all

surfaces inside a container come into contact with fluid as well as providing very gentle agitation where as

stirring usually causes the walls of the container to make contact with the solution which can lead to the

sample being exposed to shear stress. Shaking is suitable for liquids which require gentle agitation.

Shaking is better suited for lyophilization shaking is capable of providing shear force whereas stirring isn’t.

Shakers can be used to vortex samples because are more powerful than mixers. Shakers have a quieter

operation, they also have a larger range of speeds, shakers may shake vertically and horizontally while

stirrers only move in a single orientation. sample being exposed to shear stress. Shaking is suitable for

liquids which require gentle agitation. Shaking is better suited for lyophilization shaking is capable of

providing shear force whereas stirring isn’t. Shakers can be used to vortex samples because are more

powerful than mixers. Shakers have a quieter operation, they also have a larger range of speeds, shakers

may shake vertically and horizontally while stirrers only move in a single orientation. Mixing vs. Agitating.

Mixing involves the addition of two or more substances together, by agitation, stirring, or shaking, until

they are completely combined. Agitating requires fully immersing an object in fluid so that it may be mixed

with other objects via collisions. Stirring involves circular motions along an orbital path Shaking involves

the application of shear stress to cells via repeated collisions with he side of a culture vessel. Shaking is

found superior because it ensures that all surfaces inside a container come into contact with fluid. Shakers

provide gentle agitation for samples. Mixers provide better mixing than shakers. Shakers can be used to

vortex samples, agitate faster and are more gentle than mixers. Shakers are more powerful than mixers.

Shakers have a larger range of speeds. Shakers require less time and energy to complete are more

powerful than agitator motors. Shakers require less time and energy to complete tasks. Mixing works best

on liquid or semi-liquid substances. Agitating is noisy compared to shaking.

What is a Vortexer?

A vortexer is a type of shaker that swirls objects

around. Vortexers are mainly used to suspend

cells in culture media for applications such as

immunocytochemistry, live-cell imaging,

fluorescence recovery after photobleaching

(FRAP), and single cell analysis. Vortexing involves

the application of shear stress to the cultured

cells via repeated collisions with the side of the

culture vessel caused by rotating motion. Shaking

Close-up of test tube and laboratory shaker

involves slow circular motion within a sample which ensures that all surfaces within a container come into

contact with fluid shaking and stirring may not be ideal for suspending coated particles such as

fluorospheres due to coating aggregation. Shaking results in better mixing because it uses oscillation.

Shakers provide gentle agitation for samples. Shakers can be used to provide a shear force for cells.

Shakers work best with larger volume mixtures. Shaking is quiet compared to stirring and have the

ability to shake both horizontally and vertically. Shakers typically have slower speeds Shaker motors

are more powerful than mixer motors. 

How Is A Shaker Different Than A Vortexer?

While shakers and vortexers both get the job done of mixing samples, Shakers are used to mix test tubes,

flasks, beakers, etc. while vortexers are used to mix liquids in containers that can fit on a Vortexer platform.

Shakers also have a flat top surface where as the vortexers have an open bottom design for holding vials

or other small vessels which makes it easier to collect samples in when they are done being mixed.

The vortexer is ideal when you need smaller volumes of liquid mixed.

Where Are Shakers Used?

laboratory shaker with heating and flask with solution
Bacteria culture in flask that was shaked by shaker incubator

Shakers are used in a wide variety of professions

and industries ranging from food service to

biotechnology shakers can be found in research

labs, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals,

microbreweries, wineries Shakers are also used

for mixing agar plates,  shakers aren’t commonly

used but shaker tables can be found in the

aerospace industry Shaking/mixing is the

preferred method of liquid agitation. Shakers

have a flat surface with a lid, shakers provide

gentle agitation which them popular for vitrification. Shakers operate more quietly than mixers and

provided better coverage than stirring. Shaker speeds range from 10 – 100 RPM The size of the vessel

determines how fast the mixture will need to move One revolution per second would be sufficient if

shakers can be used to vortex Shakers are more powerful than mixers. Shaker monitors have a memory,

shakers have a quieter operation, shaking is not as harsh on cells as stirring, shaker platforms/tables

are adjustable, shakers require less time and energy to complete tasks.

Where Are Mixers Used?

flasks and magnetic stirrer with heating

Mixers are commonly found in research,

pharmaceutical, biotechnology labs. Biotech

companies use them for protein purification

processes, mixers are also used in hospitals

for preparing solutions Pharmaceutical

companies use them for lyophilization or freeze

magnetic mixer stirrers with fast moving stir bar for mixing liquid at medical factory
Magnetic mixer stirrers with fast moving stir bar for mixing liquid at medical factory

drying techniques. Biomedical scientists use mixers to prepare agar plates microbreweries and wineriesuse

them for mixing wine people also use mixers at home to make mixtures of drinks like fruit juice Shaking is

better suited for lyophilization Shakers are capable of providing shear force whereas stirring isn’t.

Shaker monitors have a memory Shakers require less time and energy to complete tasks.

History Of Shakers

Flasks and shakers in the chemical laboratory with samples

Mixers are commonly found in research,

pharmaceutical, biotechnology labs. Biotech

companies use them for protein purification

processes, mixers are also used in hospitals

for preparing solutions Pharmaceutical

companies use them for lyophilization or freeze

1949 - 1959

david freedman, self-taught engineer
David Freedman, self-taught engineer
new brunswick logo
New Brunswick Logo

In 1949, A couple of graduate students attempted

to isolate antibiotic producing bacterium for

treating infection by the frequent failure of their

test tube shaking apparatus, but were starting to

get a little with there attempts of doing so. Two

individuals by the name of David and Sigmund

Freedman who were in the beginning stages of

creating there new business called New

Brunswick Tool & Die offered the blueprints of a

new effective shaking device resulting in the

creation of first New Brunswick Shaker. This same

shaker was used in the nobel-piece prize winning 

scientific industries inc logo
Scientific Industries Inc Logo

streptomycin, which created an instant

commercial demand for this instrument. In 1959,

two brothers, Jack  A. Kraft and Harold D. Kraft

who were working for Scientific Industries at

time filed the blueprints for the world first vortex

mixer. Vortex mixers consist of a vertically

oriented, electricity power shaft that is attached

to a rubber cupped piece. The rubber cup is

slightly offset off center and therefore rotates in

a circular motion when the motor is switched on.

If the operator holds the substance against the

rubber cup it will allow the substance to be mixed

effectively.

1960s - 1970s

NBS Scientific Logo

Scilogex SCI-L330-Pro Digital Reciprocating Shaker

rubber cup is slightly offset off center and

therefore rotates in a circular motion when the

motor is switched on. If the operator holds the

substance against the rubber cup it will allow

the substance to be mixed effectively. In the

1960s, there was a huge influx of shakers to

come into the market due to the demand from

many scientist, also during this time NBS

introduced reciprocating shakers for rigorous

mixing of culture and chemicals, the first water

– bath shaker were also introduced by NBS for

temperature control of culturing micro-organisms,

BAOSHISHAN Lab Temperature Controlled Incubator Shaker

ika logo
IKA Logo

and finally NBS introduced the first refrigerated

incubator shaker as well as a large capacity

console-style shaker which can still be used in

laboratories today. In 1969, D. Freedman of NBS,

published a paper,”The Shaker In Bio-Engineering,

Process  Biochemistry,” which documents how

shaker speed, orbit diameter and flask angle

affect oxygen transfers for the first time, also, in

the same year, IKA introduced magnetic stirrers

with certain percs that come with it such as dicast

cases. In 1970, the manufacturing off large

capacity incubator shakers, known as IRC-1

1980s - 1990s

kuhner shaker logo
Kuhner Shaker Logo

range begins, lead by Kuhner, this type of

shaker allows samples to be mixed under high

temparture In this period, the world first

microprocessor-controlled shakers, created by

NBS was brought into the world. It also brought

the beginning of using microchips to precisely to

control certain setting on this type of shakers.

Other innovations In this period, the world first

microprocessor-controlled shakers, created by

NBS was brought into the world. It also brought

the beginning of using microchips to precisely to

control certain setting on this type of shakers.

Burrell Scientific 075-775-16-19 Wrist Action Shaker

Other innovations during the 1980’s & 1990’s

include Kuhner’s series of cabinets, followed by

its first series of stakable incubating shaker which

allows multiple units to occupy the same floor

space in a single unit. In 1991, the fist series of

rack shaker systems were introduced by Kuhner

which allowed multiple units to be operated

independently. 

2000’s

Innova 42 New Brunswick Stackable Incubator Shaker

Scientific Industries SI-0236 Vortex-Genie 2 Mixer

NBS introduced added to its Innova range

benchtop Innova 4200/4230 and large capacity

Innova. They also brought out the Innova 44

stack-able shaker in 2003 and the Innova 40 and

43 in 2005. In 2006, Scientific Industries brought

out the Digital Vortex-Industries brought out the

Digital Vortex-Genie 2, offering a digital control

and display of both time and speed for a more

reproducible operation. In 2008, Scientific Velp

Scientifica Logo Industries made updates to

their Vortex-Genie 2 by introducing a multi-vortex

boekel scientific logo
Boekel Scientific Logo
velp scientifica logo
Velp Scientifica Logo

genie, basically what this genie doesis allow

multiple vessels to be stirred simultaneously. In

the same year Boekel Scientific introduced

shaker that allows a more consistent and more

uniformed action called the Flask Dancer Orbital

Shaker. In 2009, a new type of shaker that uses

infra-red to detect whether a test tube is

inserted, introduced by VELP Scientifica, this

shaker is called the Vortex WX. In that same

year Torrey Pines Scientific, Inc. responded to a

Torrey Pines Echotherm SC20 Orbital Mixing Chilling/Heating Dry Bath

demand of instruments offering a wide range of

temperatures, thus the EchoTherm™  SC20XR and

SC20XT Digital and Programmable Orbital

Mixing  Chilling/Heating Dry Baths was born.

2010’s

itsi biosciences logo
ITSI Biosciences Logo

Scientific Industries SI-P236 Vortex-Genie Pulse 

In 2010, Johnstown, PA ITSI

Biosciences responded to a high demand of

shakers needing compact instrumentation, thus

the small and light ITSI Vortex Mixer was born. In

2011, Scientific Industries created the  Vortex-

Genie Pulse  which delivers a pulsing action to a

sample, this year also introduced the Wrist

O’Matic Shaker created by Boekel Scientific, this

shaker simulates the rotation of human wrist.

Finally, also in 2011, Grant Instruments was met

new brunswick scientific g76 water bath shaker
New Brunswick Scientific G76 Water Bath Shaker

with a need by biologist to come out with

shaker that can be used in applications such as

hybridization, bacterial culture media production

and solubility studies, so they created the GLS

Aqua Plus series of linear shaking baths.

The Different Types of Shakers

Vortex Shakers

This type of shaker was invented by Jack A. Kraft

and Harold D. Kraft in 1962. What this shaker is

and consist of is a small platform device that is

used to mix small vial and liquid substances,

its most viable characteristic is that the person

operating it has to put a vial on the shaking

platform and turn it on. The vial will be shaken

along with the platform. The speed of this shaker

can also be adjusted as well.

Four E’s Scientific Lab Vortex Shaker, 0-3000RPM,

Orbital Shakers

Orbital shakers rotate around in a circular motion

but with a slow speed (25-500 rpm to be exact).

This shaker is used mostly for culturing microbes,

washing blots, and general mixing. Some of

the characteristic of  the orbital shaker is that it

uses little to no heat and it produces no

vibrations at all, which is why it use mostly to

cure culturing microbes also, it can be altered to

become incubator due to low temperatures and

vibrations.

Heathrow Scientific hs120460 Digital Orbital Shaker

Incubator Shaker

An incubator shaker (or thermal shaker) can be

consinder a incubator an a shaker, due to the fact

that it can maintain reasonable temperatures for

incubating microbes or DNA replications, for this

reason a cell is able to grow inside because this

shakers ability to distribute oxygen evenly across

the entire incubator. Be warn though for anyone

who decides to grow yeast or bacteria in a

laboratory need to be aware that under usual

conditions in a lab, be warn though for anyone

NEWTRY Lab Incubator Shaker 2 in 1

who decides to grow yeast or bacteria in a

laboratory need to be aware that under usual

conditions in a lab, the rate in which oxygen

diffuses from gas to liquid is very slow to keep up

with the rate in which the oxygen is consumed.

Platform Shaker

A platform shaker is exactly what it sounds like, it

has a platform that oscillates left and right

(horizontally). The liquids are held in beakers, jars,

or erlenmeyer flasks that are placed on a table,

sometimes even vials and test tubes that are

nested into holes in the plate, These shakers can

also be combined with other systems like rotary

mixers for small systems. or erlenmeyer flasks

that are placed on a table,

Benchmark Scientific B3D5000-STK Stacking Platform with Flat Mat

The Possible Future Of Shakers

Shakers continue to improve an evolve at an alarming rate. The future of shakers are likely to involve the

development of different instrument that offer alternative ways of mixing. Some might even come into

existence that offer even more sample to be mixed. Whatever the case may be shakers will remain here for

many generations to come.

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