image of a Pharmaceutical Lab

What Equipment Does a Pharmaceutical Lab Use?

Laboratory equipment is absolutely central to how a pharmaceutical laboratory works. Within a pharmaceutical laboratory, there will be various developmental processes and phases, depending on specific tasks and objectives.

The services that pharmaceutical laboratories typically offer include:

  • Method development and validation
  • Clinical trials
  • Raw materials testing
  • Bioanalytical testing
  • Assay development
  • Contract manufacturing.

The things laboratories test samples for include:

  • Stability
  • Sterility
  • Uniformity
  • pH
  • Potency
  • Purity
  • Dissolution
  • Microbial and fungal infection
  • Antimicrobial effectiveness
  • Endotoxins

and many more.

The functions of laboratories reflect the services they offer and can include:

  • Sampling
  • Testing
  • Measuring
  • Recording
  • Analysing.

The equipment most important to laboratories is the equipment they need to carry out these functions.


Autoclaves are devices for sterilising laboratory materials. They are hermetically-sealed, heated chambers, which generate high pressure and steam to sterilise materials. The walls of an autoclave are thick, to enable the maintenance of this high pressure.

This high pressure supports very hot temperatures, which can eliminate harmful microorganisms effectively, including potentially harmful bacteria and spores.

The autoclave’s superheated steam will sterilise equipment, media and certain kinds of biological waste.

Because of the high temperatures this device uses, certain materials are incompatible for use with it, including flammable, corrosive and toxic materials.


Using centrifugal force to separate components in a fluid, the centrifuge is an essential piece of laboratory kit.

The device revolves particles at high speed inside tubes, with higher density particles sinking to the bottom, and lower density particles rising to the top. This is a good way of filtering a fluid to remove contaminants from it.

Centrifuges can isolate and separate suspensions and immiscible liquids (such as oil and water). Different centrifugal devices can hold a different number of tubes and will rotate at specific maximum speeds.

Powerful rotors drive these devices, and they have acceleration and deceleration rates, as well as running speeds.


Homogenisation is an intensive mixing process. It works by forcing a sample through a narrow space. The homogeniser accomplishes this using powerful pressure.

In the pharmaceutical industry, during research, clinical trials and manufacturing, homogenisers play a critical part.

The extreme pressure of the homogeniser can provide significant particle size reduction and can provide valuable yields in cell lysis, extracting proteins or nucleic acids.

Homogenisers are versatile pieces of equipment and are also available as handheld devices for use with biological samples.

Incubator and Dry Bath

In pharmaceutical laboratories, incubators provide controlled, contaminant-free environments for working with cell and tissue cultures.

Incubators regulate temperature, humidity, CO2 and other conditions. This enables laboratories to grow and store bacterial cultures.

Because incubators are so central to the functions of laboratories, there are multiple models available.

These include mini incubators, digitally-driven, with heating and cooling, or heating only, controls.

Dry baths also provide precision-controlled temperature environments, with real-time monitoring. The dry bath will thaw, warm, boil and incubate specimens.

Digital dry baths incorporate microchip technology for versatile temperature control.

Water Bath

The water bath is an alternative to the dry bath for incubating samples at constant temperatures over long periods.

These pieces of equipment come with built-in digital interfaces for accurate monitoring and control of water temperatures.

Water baths are excellent tools for incubating cell cultures, warming reagents, and melting substrates. They may also be a preferred method of heating flammable chemicals instead of an open flame.


The water aspirator is a traditional means of creating an adjustable vacuum. It comprises a pump device inside a robust base, with a controllable pressure gauge.

The aspirator connects to the water supply, and water forced into the device via a tube inside it with a small nozzle.

This is an inexpensive way of creating a moderate vacuum.

Thermal Cycler

In the laboratory, the thermal cycler is an instrument for amplifying segments of DNA.

The device contains a thermal block, which holds the samples, and which raises or lowers temperatures of PCR mixtures.

It does this in carefully pre-programmed steps. Combining the samples with various reagents, the variable temperature control of the thermal cycler enables denaturation (breaking bond links) and reannealing (binding) to occur.

Modifying genetic material in this way prepares it for various applications such as cloning, genotyping, sequencing and expression analysis.

Mixers and Shakers

Mixers will combine or agitate laboratory samples, operating at high speeds to spin liquids very quickly.

These include bench mixers and vortex mixers.

Shakers will also blend, mix or agitate substances in the laboratory. A shaker consists of an oscillating board, on which you place flasks or tubes.

This is an ideal method for agitating substances where you require simultaneous action on various samples, or you are working with large volumes of substances.

Expert Laboratory Equipment and Accessories

To find out how best to stock your laboratory with the essentials, please take a look at our full range of products, or contact us.

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