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What is pipetting? A simple rundown of the lab’s most fundamental job.

Most lab workers got their first experience pipetting in high school. Some still do it every day. This is pipetting.

Pipetting is the process of using a pipette, whether it's a plastic pipette or a glass pipette, to measure or transfer a small volume of a liquid sample. 

The liquid sample measured by the pipette is in volumes of milliliters (mL) or microliters (μL). Some pipettes can measure liquids starting at 1 μL (if that's your desired volume).

The traditional pipette (sometimes also called a "pipet") has been around since the 18th century when the chemist Francois Descroizilles invented the alkalimeter. Later, scientist Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac modified the alkalimeter and called it a “pipette.” If you thought the term sounded French, you were right.

Pipetting is used to measure and relocate liquids in a variety of applications such as:

  • Microbiology labs

  • Environmental sciences

  • Medical labs

  • Academic labs

  • Research labs

All of these applications require a high level of accuracy when moving a liquid sample from one vessel to another, allowing lab technicians to reproduce the precision in each result.

Though the pipette is one of the smallest and most universal tools you find in a lab, it makes liquid handling precise and is made up of quite a few features that make it work as well as it does:

  • A body that houses a solution

  • A spring within the body that controls the plunger

  • A volume indicator (tells you the minimum to maximum volume a pipette can hold)

  • A shaft for a disposable pipette tip

  • A plunger (the thing that forces the measured volume of liquid out)

  • A tip ejector and a tip ejector button to get rid of the disposable tip

  • A thumbwheel (also known as a fine volume adjustment ring meant to control the fixed volume of solution)

  • A push-button with two depressions (two levels to push the button down to, to work out air bubbles, dispose of remaining liquid, or for other manual pipetting processes)

  • A volume display (often shown along the pipette barrel)

These components work together to create the pipette, allowing you to accurately measure an exact volume and safely dispense liquids and semi-liquids in your laboratory.

We manufacture a great selection of liquid handling instruments and supplies, including manual and electronic pipettors and pipettes. Find the right one for your application and place your order online today. 

And while you're at it, be sure to check out our brand new SCILOGEX SuperPette Autoclavable Pipettors, in seven fully adjustable volume sizes. This Pipette offers all of the premium features you’d expect from a premium pipettor for 30-50% less. 

How does a pipette work? One of the smallest pieces of laboratory equipment, broken down.
The pipette is the small instrument that makes a lot of science possible. This is how a pipette works.