Pittcon® 2012: Laboratory Instrumentation and Equipment Product Showcase

Pittcon® 2012 was held March 11–15, 2012 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. The following product showcase provides a brief outline of new and current laboratory equipment and instrumentation featured at the conference, from solutions for sample preparation, particle analysis, and other measurement-based systems, to general laboratory equipment.

Sample preparation

Automated sample preparation workstation

The new Omni LH96 automated workstation from Omni International (www.lh96.com) takes sample preparation to a new level by combining homogenization, liquid handling, pipetting, and weighing in a single platform small enough to still fit inside a laminar fumehood. The LH96 automated workstation is customizable to an application’s sample prep, such as pharmaceutical, drug discovery, proteomics, sample processing, and nanotechnology.

Figure 1 - Optima X Series Ultracentrifuge.

Protein quantitation system

EMD Millipore (www.millipore.com) launched the new Direct Detect™ bio-molecular quantitation system for the measurement of protein quantity in a sample as low as 0.2 mg/mL to 5 mg/mL within just a few seconds. The Direct Detect system utilizes infrared measurement for the analysis of proteins rather than UV-VIS spectroscopy measurement from conventional assays, such as the Bradford and Lowry assays, which are somewhat limited.

Automated library construction system

The new SPRIworks HT from Beckman Coulter (www.beckmancoulter.com) is an automated library construction system for high-throughput sample preparation. The SPRIworks HT solution for Illumina next-generation sequencers (NGS) processes up to 96 libraries a day with improved speed with or without size selection and greater reproducibility, as compared to only eight libraries a day manually. The SPRIworks HT can also be automated on an automated liquid handler for additional methods, including polymerase chain reaction (PCR).


Beckman Coulter also showcased the new Optima X Series Ultracentrifuges (Figure 1), which provide several key features useful for enhanced end-user experience, including quiet centrifugation at less than 51 dBA, remote monitoring from a computer or smart phone, security compliance and tracking, simulation protocols saving time and sample, and energy efficiency. Available in two models (XE and XPN), these ultracentrifuges can reach a maximum of 100,000 rpm and 802,000 × g.

Figure 2 - Ultra Centrifugal Mill ZM 200. Watch video at http://goo.gl/cIiO1.

Laboratory mill

The Ultra Centrifugal Mill ZM 200 (Figure 2) with a new cyclone from RETSCH (www.retsch.com) is a laboratory rotor mill with a speed range of 6000–18,000 rpm for fine grinding of samples in various applications, including environmental, pharmaceuticals, materials, and food. Featuring a newly redesigned cyclone, the ZM 20 rotor mill improves its flexibility for sample preparation of 250-mL to 5-L volumes.

The 6970 EFM Freezer/Mill from SPEX SamplePrep (www.spexsampleprep.com) was showcased with new program functions. This laboratory freezer/mill can maintain samples at liquid nitrogen temperature without direct contact to liquid nitrogen. It is also capable of milling samples ranging from 0.5 to 100 g for various applications, such as pharmaceuticals, materials testing, pathology, and environmental.

Laboratory evaporator

The RapidVap Vertex evaporator from Labconco Corporation (www.labconco.com) processes samples using dry heat and the nitrogen blow-down method for applications in drug discovery, environmental, forensic testing, and clinical analysis. With a capacity of up to 50 samples in the same run, the Rapid-Vap dry evaporator is ETL, ETL-C, and CE compliant.

Laboratory concentrator

Labconco Corporation also featured the RevElution Bio-Concentrator. This bio-concentrator system features a small footprint that can concentrate liquid microbial samples at 100 mL/min with 90% analyte recovery. With no risk of cross-contamination, the RevElution can procure sample volumes up to 2 L with a sample range that includes bacteria, fungi, molds, and whole cells of various other samples for testing in food and beverage, environmental, or life science applications. This easy-to-use sample prep instrument can be applied for cell culture, immunoassay, and PCR.


The new Q55 Sonicator from Qsonica (www.sonicator.com) is a compact ultrasonic processor that utilizes minimal bench space and is relatively simple to operate. This sonicator operates at a 20-kHz frequency for cell disruption of standard samples and other sample prep small volumes.

Particle analysis and size measurement

The FlowCAM PV Series imaging particle analysis system from Fluid Imaging Technologies (www.fluidimaging.com) was unveiled at Pittcon. The particle vision (PV) series provide economical image particle analysis in a small benchtop footprint. The systems are capable of running up to 32 simultaneous measurements for a variety of applications, such as quality control of drug formulations, characterization of silica particles and column packing, and wash-water analysis.

Micromeritics Instrument Corporation (www.micromeritics.com) showcased an extensive line of instruments for materials characterization, including surface area analyzers and porosimetry systems. Included in the line were several particle size analyzers. The Saturn DigiSizer® II high-definition digital particle size analyzer  was highlighted. This digital particle size analyzer uses light scattering to detect particles from 40 nm to 2.5 mm.

The WAVE Series electroacoustic and conductivity pore analyzers from Quantachrome Instruments (www.quantachrome.com) were demonstrated at Pittcon. These pore characterization systems can measure pore size range of 10 nm–5 μm, +0.1 mV min pore zeta potential, and 0.5% porosity resolution of various sample types in chromatography, materials, or environmental applications.

Malvern Instruments Ltd. (www.malvern.com) showcased the new Mastersizer 3000 laser diffraction particle size analyzer with small benchtop footprint. Capable of analyzing both dry and wet samples, the Mastersizer 3000 particle size analyzer measures particle size distribution from 0.01 to 3500 µm.

The new CAMSIZER XT particle analyzer from RETSCH enables the measurement of particle sizes from 1 μm to 3 mm for finer samples (wet or dry), including shape, quantity, density, and transparency. Improved optical resolution allows the particle size analyzer to improve product quality for materials, food, and pharmaceutical applications.


Microscope Digital Camera

The new BLC line of Microscope Digital Cameras with an LCD tablet was introduced by Carltex Inc. (www.carltex.com). These new microscope tablet cameras provide comparable quality images to CCD cameras; are easy to install; and provide 2 megapixels, 1600 × 1200 resolution. This high-definition laboratory digital tablet camera has key applications in laboratory research and academic learning environments.

Scanning electron microscope

The Phenom proX desktop scanning electron microscope (SEM) from Phenom-World BV (www.phenom-world.com) is a three-dimensional imaging system with magnification of 80–45,000×. The Phenom proX SEM can perform 30 sec or less sample loading. Equipped with an energy-dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) detector as well, the Phenom proX is also an X-ray analysis system since the sample’s elemental composition can also be determined.

Dual beam microscope

FEI Company (www.fei.com) showcased the Versa 3D DualBeam™ microscope, which provides three-dimensional imaging and analysis for a variety of sample types. Capable of running both a high-vacuum and low-vacuum mode, electron beam and ion beam resolution will vary. This flexible configuration also allows characterization of materials with an additional environmental scanning electron microscope (ESEM) mode option.

Hyperspectral imaging system

The new HI 90 hyperspectral imaging system from Bruker Corporation (www.bruker.com) is an imaging system based on remote chemical sensing for the determination and quantification of hazardous gases. With scanning speeds 1000 times faster than traditional systems, the HI 90 system has a range of applications including environmental testing, forensics, and homeland security. The imaging is a result of real-time video overlay and hyperspectral imaging with standard 850–1440 cm–1 spectral range.

Laboratory instrumentation

Automatic biochemistry analyzer

Newly introduced at the conference, the YSI 2900 biochemistry analyzer from YSI Inc. (www.ysilifesciences.com) automates the biochemical analysis of a wide range of analytes, such as glucose, lactate, ethanol, choline, and sucrose with analysis time of 60 sec or less. Equipped with a proprietary enzyme electrode, this biochemistry analyzer can provide fast and analyte-specific results in a variety of samples for applications in bioprocessing, food and beverage, biofuels, and clinical laboratory testing.

Flow calorimeter

TTP Labtech (www.ttplabtech.com) introduced the chipCAL, a microliter flow calorimeter for rapid screening and optimization of enzyme analysis and characterization. The chipCAL nearly automates the analysis of enzyme activity within 2–10 min. With only as small as a 15-μL sample, this flow calorimeter cuts down on the amount of precious sample needed to provide low-cost biological assay analysis. With the potential for high-throughput screening, applications for the chipCAL flow calorimeter include the food, fermentation, and biopharma industries.


The new Pro-Juice refractometer from Bellingham + Stanley (www.bs-ltd.com), featured for its application in food and beverage testing, was designed to overcome repeatability issues experienced when using conventional refractometers. The refractometer prevents irregular measurements through the use of a peristaltic pump and provides thermal conditioning treatment for premeasurement of the sample to provide overall consistent and reliable results.

VOC analysis system

Markes International (www.markes.com) showcased the CIA Advantage™, an automated volatile organic compound (VOC) analysis system designed for canister air and gas (Figure 3). This cryogen-free VOC analyzer is fully U.S. EPA Method TO-14/15 compliant. With a detection limit of <0.1 ppb, the CIA Advantage can analyze both high- and low-concentration samples, and can easily add to all major GC and GC/MS systems.

pH meter

Figure 3 - CIA Advantage.

Senova Systems Inc. (www.senovasystems.com) announced at the show the new pHit pH Sensor, a calibration-free, solid-state pH meter. Replacing traditional glass electrodes, the pHit eliminates the need for calibration. It also eliminates the need for expensive buffers and overall maintenance. This new pH sensor has wet-dry reversible use to provide versatility for typical research or medical applications.

Pipette testing system

BrandTech Scientific Inc. (www.brandtech.com) showcased the new BRAND PLT™ Pipette Leak Testing Unit. This useful pipette leak tester validates the functionality of pipettes to ensure accurate performance in the lab without having to send pipettes out for calibration. The easy-to-use PLT can detect air displacement and leak rate at 1hPa ml/s.

Liquid handling robotic system

Metrohm USA (www.metrohmusa.com) presented the 898 XYZ Sample Changer, a liquid handling robotic system. The sample changer automates the analysis of many samples with up to 82-sample capacity.


The Ti-Touch Titrator Series from Metrohm USA was also featured. These new compact titrators for routine analysis are available for Karl Fischer and potentiometric titrations. These compact titrators come in many different versions for respective applications.

Laboratory equipment

Laboratory vacuum pump

KNF Neuberger Inc. (www.knf.com) introduced the new SC 950 vacuum pump system (Figure 4). This vacuum pump shortens the processing time of solvents with a high pumping capacity of 50 L/min and deep end vacuum of 1.5 Torr. The SC 950 laboratory vacuum pump system has a small footprint and is available with wireless remote. With four operating modes, the laboratory vacuum pump is flexible for a variety of laboratory applications.

  Figure 4 - SC 950 vacuum pump. Watch video at  http://goo.gl/yAR4v.

Laboratory diaphragm pump

Vacuubrand (www.vacuubrand.com) featured the ME1 line of Compact Oil-Free Diaphragm Pumps. These diaphragm pumps allow for efficient single or multiple filtrations in a compact design. With 75 Torr (100 mbar) ultimate vacuum and 14 1pm (0.5 cfm) free air capacity, the ME1 diaphragm pumps provide quiet and low vibration operation for a variety of applications, such as chemistry, microbiology, and environmental testing.

Fume Hood

The new UniMax Floor Mounted Fume Hood was announced by HEMCO Corporation (www.hemcocorp.com). This line of laboratory walk-in fume hoods is available in a variety of sizes and can easily accommodate systems such as distillation apparatus and reactors. The UniMax Fume Hood features a modular design that is chemical resistant, allowing for customization of designs for an individual laboratory’s requirements.

Glassware washer

The System4Lab glassware washer cleaning solution (Figure 5) was showcased by Miele (www.miele-pro.com). This solution includes a laboratory glassware washer, lab service, glassware detergents, and an application support lab—all under a five-year limited warranty.

Figure 5 - System 4Lab glassware washer. Watch video at http://goo.gl/ycmmF.

Laboratory counting scale

Adam Equipment (www.adamequipment.com) unveiled a new line of weighing scales, the Warrior wash-down scales. A robust design from stainless steel provides stability for a variety of weighing applications, in particular, those for pharmaceutical and cleanroom requirements. In addition to standard weighing, the Warrior scale line also can provide percentage, dynamic, animal, and check weighing, and parts and check counting. These laboratory scales provide measurement in grams, kilograms, ounces, pounds, and Newtons, in various languages including English, Spanish, French, and German.

Water purification system

RephiLe Bioscience Ltd. (www.rephile.com) introduced both the new, large Direct-Pure EDI water systems and large Direct-Pure RO water systems. The EDI water system has a water production rate of 30–120 L/hr, whereas the reverse osmosis water system can produce 50–150 L/hr (depending on the model). Designed for larger laboratories and applications in buffer/media preparation, feedwater for ultrapure water systems, and chemical analysis, these two high-flow water systems can process up to 2000 L of water per day.

Laboratory consumables

Certified reference standards

SPEX CertiPrep (www.spexcertiprep.com) introduced new certified reference standards for trace metals. Primarily for food testing, in particular the wine industry, these wine standards are offered for both red and white wine for trace metal analysis. Available in 21 mL, these trace metal standards also provide additional sample information, such as alcohol content, sulfite, and chloride levels.

Laboratory software

The ACD/Spectrus Workbooks by Advanced Chemistry Development, Inc. (www.acdlabs.com) was launched at the show. This new laboratory software solution is equipped with techniques specific for analytical characterization in spectroscopy, spectrometry, and separation science. The ACD/Spectrus laboratory software can capture analytical data and chemical structure for data processing and interpretation for these various laboratory analytical techniques.


Pittcon, the premier exhibition for introducing the latest laboratory instrumentation and equipment, will be held next year at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, the “City of Brotherly Love.” The dates are March 17–21, 2013.

Compare and learn more about these new products and other laboratory equipment at www.labcompare.com.

Jeanely Hunt is Content Editor for American Laboratory/Labcompare; e-mail: jhunt@americanlaboratory.com.