Which micropipette is right for me?Katy Martin
Micropipettes allow scientists to precisely measure small volumes, and are essential tools in the molecular biology lab. A single micropipette can cost hundreds of dollars, but luckily, you don’t have to spend that much to get a quality micropipette. miniPCR bio™ offers three types of micropipettes, and this guide will help you decide which micropipette is right for you!
We offer two basic types of micropipettes: fixed volume micropipettes, which only measure one volume, and variable micropipettes, which can be adjusted to measure different volumes within a certain range.
Fixed volume micropipettes
Fixed volume micropipettes, or minipettes as we like to call them, are less expensive than variable volume micropipettes and are also a bit easier to use. We recommend purchasing fixed volume micropipettes for your students if you will only be performing electrophoresis experiments where loading 10 μl of each sample is standard. In fact, all of our electrophoresis-only Learning Labs™ are designed so that students only need a 10 μl fixed volume micropipette! We also offer a 4 μl fixed volume micropipette that can be used in conjunction with BioBits® Learning Labs™.
The design of our minipettes gives the look and feel of a traditional micropipette, giving students an authentic lab experience with simpler, more affordable tools. And at under $10 a piece, the price is near unbeatable.
If you choose fixed volume micropipettes for your students, we usually recommend getting at least two sizes (2-20 μl and 20-200 μl) of variable volume micropipettes for teacher use.
Variable volume micropipettes
If your students will be performing more advanced procedures, like PCR, a variable volume micropipette is necessary. Variable volume micropipettes come in four common size ranges: 1-10 μl, 2-20 μl, 20-200 μl, and 100-1000 μl. However, for most classrooms, students do not need a full set of micropipettes. The majority of miniPCR bio Learning Labs™ are designed so that students only need a 2-20 μl micropipette (see the Materials Needed section of any Learning Lab Instructor’s Guide for specific lab requirements). We recommend that the teacher have one full set of micropipettes for their own use to make solutions and distribute reagents for their students.
miniPCR bio offers two models of variable volume micropipettes. Both are high quality micropipettes appropriate for student or professional lab use and are compatible with universal micropipette tips. For student use, we usually recommend H series micropipettes, which offer sturdiness at a low price point. For more frequent micropipette users, A series micropipettes offer greater comfort and precision. Both are highly affordable options: H-series micropipettes are currently on sale for $55 each and A-series micropipettes are less than $100 each.
No matter which model you choose, training your students to use a micropipette will teach them an essential biotechnology skill that will serve them well in numerous applications.
– Contributed by miniPCR bio curriculum specialist Allison Nishitani, PhD