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How to Keep on Top of Laboratory Vibrations

Vibrations are just one of the many factors that can cause inaccurate results when weighing, especially when using high precision balances in laboratory environments.

Here we’ll discuss the best methods for trying to curb your lab vibrations, with information on anti-vibration tables and the proper practises that will ensure accurate results.

Why do we want to prevent vibrations?

As mentioned above, vibrations can seriously impact the accuracy of a weighing balance, especially instruments such as analytical and semi-micro balances where measurements are extremely precise. Inaccurate results in laboratory environments can be catastrophic, even if the measurement is out by a just a few milligrams.

In chemistry, the wrong amount of substance added to a solution can completely alter the desired outcome, or in medical research an inaccuracy could lead to a wrong diagnoses or prescription. Not only can this be incredibly unsafe to both users and customers, but it can also cause deficiencies in products which can lead to product recalls which ultimately cost valuable time and money.

What can cause vibrations in the lab?

Vibrations in a laboratory can come from all kinds of different sources – here are some of the main ones:

Footsteps – The most common cause of vibrations in a lab, this not only applies to you, but to any other lab technicians in the laboratory who might be walking around to complete their work. To make things  even more difficult, vibrations from footsteps aren’t restricted to the same room as the lab balance and can occur from nearby corridors, especially when there are groups of people walking at the same time.  

Outside vibrations – Vibrations are also commonly caused by outside sources such as traffic, building work, airports and trains. You can even experience horizontal vibrations due to wind sway at the top of high buildings.

Equipment vibrations – Other equipment in the lab can cause vibrations, including air-conditioning units or laboratory centrifuges. Elevators can also cause vibrations depending on their location, especially if there are more than one.

How to keep on top of laboratory vibrations

Good laboratory practises are the key to getting accurate results and minimising the effects of vibrations in your weighing results.

Before anything else is even considered, the location of the laboratory has to be the number one priority. As covered above, vibrations can come from just about anywhere, even from sources out of your control such as trains, traffic and building work. Obviously, it’s generally not good to set up a laboratory next to a train track or a busy road. Site surveys are a great way of assessing the magnitude of the vibration in your laboratory, allowing you to determine what kind of actions need to be taken next.

A quick, simple way to control lab vibrations is to not move around the room during weighing procedures, and try to keep contact with device to a minimum. For other members of the lab, communicate when you require them to be still, and for external corridors you could try setting up a sign to inform passers by of the current work taking place. It should also be a given that all electronic devices that are likely to cause vibrations, such as air condition units, fridges and other lab equipment, should be switched off.

Another simple way to control vibrations that is all too familiar with lab technicians carrying out high precision tasks is carrying out the work during the night. The evening hours will most likely see less footfall, traffic and trains, so is therefore more likely to give vibration-free weighing.

The final thing that we would strongly recommend using is an anti-vibration table – read more about it below:

The importance of anti-vibration tables

An anti-vibration table is a specialist work surface that is used with high precision weighing equipment such as analytical, semi-micro and micro balances, but also with microscopes and other high precision lab equipment. They are used to significantly reduce vibrations by using shock-absorbing materials that prevent the transfer of motion between the floor and the work surface. In the case of the Adam AVT Anti-Vibration Table, the granite weighing surface is separated by an absorbent rubber mount, which sits on a steel frame with adjustable rubber feet.

Anti-vibration tables are especially useful for nullifying outside vibrations that are often otherwise impossible to avoid, such as traffic and passing trains. Unless you are building a new lab, it’s not exactly simple to pack up and move locations, so an anti-vibration table can be a great way ensuring that you weighing data is correct.

Want to discuss vibration reducing options further or want to enquire about the Adam AVT? Speak to a member of our team on 01908 972 660 or Get In Touch with us.

Previous article How Does an Anti-Vibration Table Work?

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