As you may know, syringe pumps are standard instruments in research labs as they’re the go-to method for the precision transfer of liquid chemicals, solvents, or any other fluids in the lab due to the simple nature of the fluid delivery mechanism. Syringe pumps are also the gold standard for accuracy and precision fluid delivery. However, like any tool, they do have a few limitations to keep in mind.
“Syringe pumps are very useful for multiple applications. They bring significant precision and control advantages over manual fluid administration.”
In this article, we’ll cover in detail the technical aspects of syringe pumps and explain their advantages and drawbacks too. If, after reading the article, you feel you would like to know more about syringe pumps, you can head over to our interesting article: Syringe Pumps in Research Labs. Applications and More
Advantages of Syringe Pumps
Accuracy & Precision – In the world of science labs, syringe pumps are very useful for the significant precision and control advantages over other types of fluid administration. The use of syringe pumps in labs has increased since new and sophisticated electronics have improved performance.
“Recent advances in microprocessor technology have led to next-level accuracy and precision flow rate control.”
- Recent advances in microprocessor technology have led to next-level accuracy and precision flow control – Syringe pumps now offer a near pulseless flow rate across large flow ranges. Syringe pumps built now are on average 20-30 times smoother and have far less pulsation than syringe pumps built in the 90’s.
“Syringe pumps now come with onboard programming options.”
- With the ability to accept 10 microliter syringes, tiny volumes down to picoliter microinjection can be achieved.
- Syringe pumps now come with onboard programming options. They can handle cycling injections and come with syringe settings presets from syringe manufacturers.
- With the programming options on hand, you can set up complex infusion or withdrawal processes. These options include stepped functions, constant or ramped speed, trigger dispense, and periodic dispense.
“When working with viscous solutions or injecting semi-solid materials under pressure, there are high-pressure syringe pumps available too. They offer precision flow and performance, crucial for critical experiment specifications.”
- Syringe pumps can maintain high accuracy and precision independent of liquid and environmental factors like humidity, viscosity, surface tension, hydrostatic pressure, or barometric pressure.
- When working with viscous solutions or injecting semi-solid materials under pressure, there are high-pressure syringe pumps available too. They offer precision flow and performance, crucial for critical experiment specifications. Some are equipped with a heated syringe temperature control and pressure modulation options – like this one from Chemyx: The Fusion 6000 high-pressure syringe pump.
“Relatively easy to run and clean.”
- Syringe pumps are relatively easy to run and clean. With fluids contained in the syringe, it is one of the cleanest and maintenance-free pumps to run.
- Some pumps can handle not just one, but up to eleven syringes for parallel dosing applications.
- If you are a chemist, you can use a syringe pump to deliver multiple reagents at once, making them very useful in multi-step chemical synthesis.
“Ensuring smooth and precise volume delivery for optimum instrument calibration.”
- In neuroscience, they’re essential tools for delivering precise doses of chemicals to specific brain regions.
- In cell biology, they’re your go-to for those delicate cellular microinjections of plasmids and viruses.
- These pumps are also used in mass spectrometry and electrospray ionization, ensuring smooth and precise volume delivery for optimum instrument calibration.
Disadvantages of using syringe pumps
Syringe pumps have several physical limitations that may not be suitable for a number of applications.
“Fixed volume delivery, cost, vibration, and shear fluid sensitivity.”
- Unlike peristaltic pumps which can pump indefinitely, syringe pumps deliver a fixed volume of fluid. While setups have valves to automate reloading, most applications call for manual reloading of the syringe. Volume limits associated with the size of the syringe consequently are also not desirable for continuous flow applications when syringes are too small.
- The initial cost of a pump is usually from 1 thousand USD to a few thousand dollars – although there are previous generation pumps designed for lower-end applications.
- Highly sensitive to vibration and fume hood airflow on tubing that can cause oscillations in microfluidic flows.
- Highly sensitive to fluidic shear from slurries that can clog the syringe or needle which will overpressure the pump and stall the device.