Vortexers, or vortex mixers, gently agitate liquid samples by creating a vortex motion within the sample tube. Vortexers are composed of a drive shaft, oriented vertically, and connected to an electric motor, encased in a plastic or steel housing. The top end of the drive shaft protrudes from the housing and attaches to a micro-tube cup adapter or rack designed to accommodate microplates or multiple test tubes. Simple vortexers turn on automatically when a micro-tube, containing the sample, is pressed into the rubber cup. Advanced vortexers include analog or digital controllers with on/off switches, mixing speed controls, vortex timers, and alarms.
Unlike orbital shakers and overhead stirrers, which are designed to batch mix large-volume samples housed in beakers, flasks or baths, vortexers are designed to mix low-volume samples stored in microtubes or microplates. The vortex motion generated within the micro-tube captures sample droplets affixed to the inner walls of the tube to ensure homogenous mixing. Small-footprint vortex mixers take up less benchtop space than bulky overhead stirrers and orbital shakers, making them ideal for crowded, shared-use laboratories.
Single-tube vortexers, such as Benchmark Scientific’s Vornado Mixer, include touch-activated cups designed to accommodate sample tubes up to 50 ml in size. The cup head is sealed to prevent accidental spills from entering the housing and damaging the vortex shaft or motor.
Multi-tube vortexers, such as Benchmark Scientific’s BenchMixer XL, include a 7” x 12” platform designed to accommodate a variety of different sample tube racks for high-volume mixing. Interchangeable tube racks are designed to house 50 x 2.0 ml micro-tubes, 15 x 50 ml culture tubes, or 3 x 96-well microplates. Multi-tube vortexers include precise motor balancing to minimize vibrations and ensure accurate, reproducible speeds across the platform.
Microplate vortexers, such as Benchmark Scientific’s Incu-Mixer MP, include a pre-installed plate deck capable of accommodating up to 4 microplates. The Incu-Mixer MP features a heated lid to prevent sample condensation during mixing runs. As opposed to single-tube vortexers, which can maintain mixing speeds up to 3,400 revolutions per minute (rpm), microplate vortexers, given the size of the plate deck, maintain lower speeds (up to 1,200 rpm).
Standard laboratory vortexers maintain shaking speeds between 100 rpm and 3,000 rpm, but specialty vortex mixers can achieve shaking speeds up to 3,400 rpm. As the force produced by the electronic drive shaft is dispersed among the samples placed on the vortexer, single-tube vortexers are capable of maintaining higher shaking speeds than multi-tube or microplate vortexers, which house multiple samples within plate decks or sample racks. Although most laboratory vortexers feature controllers capable of adjusting shaking speeds, certain vortex mixers are designed to shake at a fixed speed.
Benchmark Scientific’s BenchMixers feature analog controllers with on/off switches, speed control dials, and touch-start/manual-start toggles.
Benchmark Scientific’s Multi-Therm mixers feature digital controllers with speed adjustment, temperature control, run timers, pulse duration control, and stored, user-defined programs.
120-volt connections are suitable for standard laboratory power outlets in the United States, Canada, Mexico and South America. 240-volt connections, common in Mainland Europe and throughout Asia, require less current (amperage) and smaller conductors than equipment designed to operate at 120-volt.
Benchmark Scientific’s Incu-Mixer MP models include a heating coil to maintain temperatures up to 70°C for cell culture sample mixing.
Refrigerated vortexers, like Benchmark Scientific’s Multi-Therm, include a cooling coil to maintain temperatures down to -20°C for mixing of sensitive samples. A built-in temperature safety sensor alerts the user when conditions fall outside of setpoint.
Certain 240-volt vortexers include EU-approved or Schuko plugs for installation into laboratories located in Europe or Asia.
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