These days, few scientific fields are as busy as virology. Scientists are constantly working in virology labs to understand viral illnesses and make everyone healthier.
It’s a critical field of study, and it requires plenty of expertise and specialized equipment.
Simply seeing a virology lab equipment list isn’t enough to truly understand the scope of this essential scientific field. In fact, it’s better to examine some of the most common and specialized tools within the field to understand what virologists do and how they work.
Having worked with labs of all types, OnePointe Solutions understands the complexity of building a laboratory. Virology lab equipment is delicate, and — like most other scientific machinery — it requires plenty of care and space to operate correctly.
All of these features must be considered as designers build work-ready spaces. The experts at OnePointe Solutions specialize in perfecting the delicate art of balancing form, function, and safety.
What Equipment Is Used in a Virology Lab?
To understand the many types of virology lab equipment, it’s essential to start with the basics. Like any science, virology requires many small tools and equipment to function correctly. While these items may not be glamorous, scientists could not perform their jobs without their help.
Many of these smaller items are universal across all sciences, making storage a reasonably simple process. In addition to placing these items on durable working surfaces and countertops, scientists will frequently free space by stowing these small items in custom-built casework.
Examples of commonplace scientific supplies in a virology lab include:
- Bunsen Burners
- Hot Plates
- Microscopic Slides
- pH Meters
- Safety Equipment
- Washing Stations
- Water Baths
A more specialized tool is a colony counter.
This virology device is rather small, often fitting inside the cabinets of island workstations when not in use. It features a strong lens and strategic gridlines on its face, and trained experts use it to identify and tally the growth of viral samples.
Often used in conjunction with spectrometry equipment, microscopes are an invaluable tool in a virology lab. The function of microscopes is well known, but it’s worth noting that their placement and setup can dramatically impact how well they work.
Traditional microscope setups, which place the devices on static countertops, can cause excessive strain on workers’ backs and joints. To alleviate these problems, many designers have turned to modern solutions.
Adjustable microscope tables give workers plenty of space to study microscopic samples without hunching over or straining to reach the equipment. At OnePointe Solutions, our custom-built tables feature fully adjustable legs, ensuring that everyone is comfortable at work.
Moreover, our manufacturing team can add dividers, accessories, and storage spaces to make your microscope table the perfect fit for your space.
When samples require mixing, one of the most commonly used devices in a virology lab is a sturdy vortex mixer. These portable devices hold and gyrate test tubes to agitate their contents.
Large Virology Lab Equipment
There are also plenty of heavy machines and testing devices in virology labs. These examples may not be specific to the field, but their weight and size make them cumbersome pieces of machinery. This means that designers must plan their placement before designing the space.
However, scientists must have ways to reconfigure their spaces to fit their working needs. In these situations, the best options for virology laboratories will be durable stainless steel or medical-grade casework.
One of the most important fixtures in a virology lab is the autoclave. This often immobile machine stores and sanitizes sensitive samples. Scientists will seal the large machine’s lid and expose its contents to high-temperature steam, which purges critical samples of thermosensitive impurities.
Due to the nature of virology, workers are constantly handling dangerous materials. The samples studied within these institutions are often dangerous and contagious, and they require proper storage.
As such, every virology lab will have at least one biosafety cabinet.
While these fixtures can be purchased pre-made, we manufacture our own at OnePointe Solutions. This means that laboratories can have cabinets that perfectly fit their space and individual qualifications.
Unlike one-size-fits-all pre-made safety cabinets, OnePointe Solutions’ custom-built models can be fully customized to work within any space.
On the smaller end of the specialized equipment scale is an ELISA reader. An ELISA reader takes automated measurements, guaranteeing a level of reliability that humans cannot match.
These specialized devices are frequently used to aid the development of new drugs and treatment options.
Gas Electrolysis Apparatus
Also known as a Hofman voltameter, a gas electrolysis apparatus is used to measure the volume of gas. When operated, a Hofman voltameter electrolyzes water samples, and the displacement of its contents determines the volume of the gas sample.
Like autoclaves, incubators are highly specialized machines meant to heat samples. In virology, these machines are used to create climate-controlled storage spaces for sensitive samples, as many viruses and pathogens thrive within a strict set of environmental conditions.
Smaller incubators may be moved, but larger units will require custom-built cabinetry or stabilized stainless steel tables to accommodate their presence.
Also known as sterilization chambers, these box-like devices are used to sterilize samples using ultraviolet light. Inoculation chambers are used when samples would degrade in an autoclave. Once samples have been sterilized, they can be transferred to slides, glassware, or storage containers for further study.
Shaker Water Baths
Like standard water baths, a shaking water bath machine is used to store sensitive materials in heated or cooled water. This allows the sample to rest at its optimal temperature.
However, shaker baths provide an additional element of control, as they allow scientists to gently shake the samples as they are being stored.
The movement provided by a shaker water bath is not necessary for all samples, but it is an invaluable asset when materials require movement and agitation.
Specialized photographic equipment is necessary for documenting and studying virus samples. These images are captured using spectrometers, which require plenty of space to operate.
By passing specific wavelengths through samples, spectrometers are able to capture high-quality images of microscopic organisms.
Many spectrometers are safely placed upon countertops, which provides the devices with a stable working surface. However, a more mobile and adaptable option is a mass spectrometry bench.
At OnePointe Solutions, we design and build our own benches. This means that laboratories can order a mass spectrometry bench that perfectly fits their space and needs.
By using a mix of our accessories, these workstations can be converted into mobile units, or, if necessary, we can install the benches as permanent fixtures.
Virology labs also require all of the safety equipment of any other laboratory.
While some safety measures are somewhat unique to the field, most of the procedures within a virology lab are common practice across every scientific discipline. Clean rooms, air circulation devices, and proper ventilation are essential to the safe operation of a virology laboratory.
Working spaces should be equipped with eye wash stations, fume hoods, and fire suppression features.
The addition of advanced anti-microbial casework can further improve the safety and operation of a virology laboratory.
How Design Can Make a Difference
Regardless of what equipment is present in a virology lab, its layout is crucial to success. Poorly planned laboratories prevent easy access to crucial equipment, and inefficient workstation placement can hinder day-to-day operations.
To guarantee the most efficient and effective workspace possible, laboratory managers must invest in updated designs. These renovations renew older laboratories with modernized equipment, workstations, and workflow.
At OnePointe Solutions, we understand what scientific laboratories need to function. We’ve worked with countless professionals and designed stunning spaces for every scientific discipline.