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How To Choose the Right Type of Plastic for Your Labware

How To Choose the Right Type of Plastic for Your Labware

There are many benefits to using plastic labware over traditional glass beakers, graduated cylinders, burettes, and the like. In addition to being less expensive, plastic is less likely to break, is lighter, and in some cases flexible/squeezable. 

Thanks to modern manufacturing technology, you no longer have to sacrifice measuring precision or clarity when using plastic labware. So it's continuing to gain popularity, especially for educational training and at home use. 

If you've decided to go with plastic for your labware, it's important to understand that there are actually several different polymers used to make the various types of plastic labware. 

These different polymers have unique physical and chemical resistance properties, so make sure you understand these properties and consider them, alongside the activities you plan to use them for.

Here's a guide to the physical and chemical resistance properties of plastics commonly used to make labware. Please consider these properties when choosing your labware, and reach out to service@hbarsci.com if you have any additional questions – we are here and happy to help!

Polypropylene Bottle

Polypropylene (PP)

Usable Temperature Range: -20°C to +135°C

Autoclavable: yes, at 121°C

Clarity: translucent, very good clarity

Chemical Resistance: good to excellent chemical resistance

Additional Physical Properties: rigid, resistant to loosing shape

Typically Used For: beakers, storage bottles, graduated cylinders, funnels, jugs, and flasks

LDPE Wash Bottles

Low Density Polyethelene (LDPE)

Usable Temperature Range: -50°C to +80°C

Autoclavable: no

Clarity: translucent, fair clarity 

Chemical Resistance: good to excellent chemical resistance

Additional Physical Properties: flexible, virtually unbreakable

Typically Used For: wash bottles, dispensing bottles


High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

Usable Temperature Range: -100°C to +120°C

Autoclavable: no

Clarity: translucent, fair clarity

Chemical Resistance: good to excellent chemical resistance

Additional Physical Properties: rigid, high tensile stregnth

Typically Used For: storage bottles, funnels

TPX Cylinders

Polymethylpentene (PMP) (TPX)

Usable Temperature Range: -180°C to +155°C

Autoclavable: yes, at 121°C

Clarity: transparent, excellent clarity

Chemical Resistance: good to excellent chemical resistnace

Additional Physical Properties: rigid, low density

Typically Used For: beakers and graduated cylinders

PTFE Plastic Stopcock

Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)

Usable Temperature Range: -200°C to +260°C

Autoclavable: yes, at 121°C

Clarity: opaque

Chemical Resistance: excellent resistance to almost all chemicals

Additional Physical Properties: rigid, low friction coefficient

Typically Used For: stoppers and stopcocks

Acrylic Burette

Polymethylmethacrylate (Acrylic) (PMMA)

Usable Temperature Range: -60°C to +50°C

Autoclavable: no

Clarity: transparent, excellent clarity

Chemical Resistance: moderate chemical resistance

Additional Physical Properties: rigid, brittle

Typically Used For: burettes, pipettes

Polystyrene Petri Dish

Polystyrene (PS)

Usable Temperature Range: -40°C to +90°C

Autoclavable: no

Clarity: transparent, excellent clarity

Chemical Resistance: moderate chemical resistance

Additional Physical Properties: rigid, brittle

Typically Used For: petri dishes, containers

Polycarbonate Safety Shield

Polycarbonate (PC)

Usable Temperature Range: -135°C to +135°C 

Autoclavable: yes, at 121°C

Clarity: transparent, excellent clarity

Chemical Resistance: moderate chemical resistance

Additional Physical Properties: rigid, high impact strength

Typically Used For: safety shields, safety goggles

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