Laboratories and their equipment are designed with research in mind. Whether you’re trying to make agricultural breakthroughs, medical developments, or uncovering new challenges, you’ll need to extensively plan your lab from the inside out. While all aspects of laboratory design are essential to its success, one of the most vital parts of the process is the development of equipment.
Equipment can make or break your research space. The most high-tech equipment will put you ahead of the curve, while outdated options will slow you down. Ultimately, you’ll need to rely on your design team and collaboration efforts to develop equipment that makes sense for your needs. Here are 5 steps to consider during the laboratory equipment development process.
1. Properly Measure Your Space
First, you’ll need to have clear measurements. There is such thing as too much equipment, believe it or not. You’ll need to find a balance between open workspace, storage, and tools. If you fail to effectively size your lab, it’ll become less effective. It’s also more prone to safety hazards, and that’s something we all want to avoid.
Work with your lab managers to properly measure your space. Determine how many users will be working in the lab at any one time, as well as the type of users. You’ll want to include different tools for students vs professional researches, for example, so get as much of an understanding as you can during these early stages. Once you know what size of space you’ll be working with, you can ensure you’re not overfilling the lab.
2. Consider Storage
Choosing equipment, as we said above, is about more than designing a workspace. You also need to know how to properly store these materials and tools safely within the space. This is especially true for lab settings with heavy chemistry or any potentially dangerous experiments. Collaborate with safety professionals about the best ways to choose tools with safety in mind.
This might mean working closely with the HVAC control system to ensure the pressurization and temperature is all safe for the equipment. This is why coordination and collaboration between design teams is so essential.
3. Prototyping Lab Equipment
Sometimes the exact equipment needed for your projects or space isn’t available. Luckily, that no longer has to be an obstacle thanks to new technology. You’ll likely hear about the wonders of 3D printing, but have you seen it in action? 3D printing is an affordable solution for creating custom equipment designed for your team alone.
3D printing as a solution for laboratory equipment is outstanding among the rapid prototyping companies. It’s easy to design whatever you need by working with an engineer, designer, or the researchers themselves. There’s no need to hold back.
4. Heat Gains
When working in a lab where equipment runs continuously, you’ll have to take into account any produced heat. You need a cooling system that works for your lab size to ensure the workspace stays comfortable and productive. Overheating also poses a real threat to lab tools, so it should be taken seriously.
Before you begin collecting equipment, consider their heat gains. A mechanical engineer can help with understanding how this heat-generating equipment will work in your space. Spaces with ultralow freezer or refrigerators, for example, are the most prone to heat challenges. You can speak to your individual manufacturers for more information on heat gains.
5. Mobile Equipment
Finally, sometimes the equipment doesn’t stay in the same place. Most lab facilities need to stay flexible, and that means your tools will need to be flexible as well. Some lab equipment will travel through the building or beyond, so you need to make sure there are a clear plan and pathway for removing the space.
Large equipment is the most at risk of obstacles in mobility situations. You’ll need to account for all doors and turning points not only for delivery but potential removal. Failing to pay attention to the mobility of tools and large equipment will only lead to trouble for the lab down the road.
Preparing to build a lab is a complex process. There are a lot of moving parts to consider, and overlooking even one aspect can lead to problems in the future. It’s up to you to determine the right equipment for your space and make sure this equipment will continue to be effective in the future. Many labs today need to stay flexible, and that means having a space that grows with the research instead of the other way around. Keep your equipment mobile, customized, and well-researched.