20 most common lab equipment names, pictures and their uses

20 most common lab equipment names, pictures and their uses

Several types of equipment are required for any functional laboratory to operate appropriately. Be it a school, research, or a medical laboratory; special apparatus are needed. So, what are some of the common lab equipment names and their functions?

most common lab equipment
Photo: canva.com (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Laboratory apparatus is used to carry out scientific experiments, and they range from simple to complex depending on the uses. While different types of laboratories need different types of apparatus, some are common for all.

Lab equipment names and pictures

Laboratory equipment refers to various gear used in a laboratory to perform different tasks. These tools are meant for use by scientists, pupils, teachers, and even medics. For example, some science lab apparatus are used for weighing objects, mixing and preparing solutions, and others for cleaning vessels.

While performing any experiment, you need to be careful to avoid getting hurt. To ensure safety and adequately carry out an experiment, it is essential to know the names of lab equipment and their uses.

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What are some of the categories of laboratory equipment?

Lab apparatus are categorized into various classes depending on their uses. Below are all the categories of lab equipment and their names

  • Analytical instruments: These are instruments mostly used in research labs. Most of these apparatus are used in the analysis of various matters and compounds. Examples of such instruments are Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy (AAS), High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), balances, calorimeter, colourimeter, conductivity meters, and many more.
  • Laboratory glassware: These are laboratory materials for measuring, pipetting, transferring, preparation of reagents, and storage. They include beakers, bottles, condensers/distillation, flasks, funnels, glass washers/dryers, test tubes, and vials.
  • Clinical lab equipment: These are apparatus mostly used in clinical areas, mostly in hospitals. They include blood/gas analyzers, cell counters, chemistry analyzers, coagulation analyzers, and haematology analyzers.
  • Microscopes: They are instruments that are used to magnify small objects. They are categorized into five types, stereo microscope, compound microscope, inverted microscope, metallurgical microscope, and polarizing microscope.
  • Histology/pathology equipment: These are tools that help to prepare and examine tissues. They are cover slippers, cryostat, embedding stations, slide stainers, and tissue processors.
  • Laboratory supplies: They include apparel, gloves, lab coats, chemicals, cuvettes, filtration supplies, labels, lamps, and plasticware.
  • Biotech/life science: Include processes like osmometers, capillary electrophoresis, DNA synthesizers, electrophoresis, electrophysiology, and electroporation.
  • General lab equipment: They include, Baths/circulators, block digesters, centrifuge, cryogenics, desiccators, Environmental Growth Chambers, flowmeters, freezers, fume hoods, and furnaces.
  • High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC): The instrument detects very small amounts of solvents and separates a wide variety of chemical mixtures. Its parts include a pump, an injector, column, detector, and computer analyzer.
  • Gas Chromatography (GC): Is an instrument used to measure the mole of substances in a liquid sample or parts per billion concentration in a gaseous sample. Its parts include the gas section, sample injector, column, and detector.
  • Microplate equipment: This is a laboratory instrument used to measure chemical, biological or physical reactions, properties, and analytes within the well of a microplate. A microplate consists of small wells in which separated reactions take place.
  • Antibodies/reagents: These are like cell culture media, cytokines, enzymes, and biochemicals.
  • Vacuum equipment: They are majorly used in the manufacturing of cathodes, pumping water, welding, food preservation, applied sterilization, and many more. Some of the instrument's parts are valves, gauges, pumps, and filters.
  • Laboratory pumps: There are two main types of laboratory pumps, entrapment and displacement pumps.
  • Fume hoods and lab enclosures: They are designed to prevent contamination in the lab by fumes or gases from chemical reactions
  • Centrifuges: This is a laboratory device used to separate fluids, gas or liquid, based on density. Separation is achieved by spinning a vessel containing material at high speed; the centrifugal force pushes heavier materials to the outside of the vessel.
  • Chromatography: It's a technique used to d separate identify the components of a mixture. HPLC and GC all use chromatography techniques.
  • Spectroscopy: This is the study of the interaction of light with matter. Instruments used are AAS, molecular spectroscopy, infrared spectroscopy, ultraviolet spectroscopy, and X-Ray analytical (XRD, XRF).
  • Imaging systems: They aid in producing an image of objects by light on a sensitive surface like films.
  • Labelling: It helps in the identification of different apparatus and specimens in the laboratory.

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So what are the common lab equipment names and their uses?

Have a look at these common lab equipment names and images and their various functions/uses in the lab.

1. Microscope

Lab equipment names
A light microscope placed on a white surface. Photo: pexels.com, @Artem Podrez
Source: UGC

A microscope is a popular lab apparatus used to observe things that are too tiny to be observed by the naked human eye. There are many different types of microscopes.

A light microscope uses lights and a series of magnifying lenses to observe a tiny specimen. On the other hand, an electron microscope uses a beam of electrons to form a magnified image and, thus, is more powerful.

2.Test tube

Lab equipment names
Laboratory test tubes. Photo: pexels.com, @Chokniti Khongchum
Source: UGC

This is a common type of lab vessel used to hold and mix liquid substances. A test tube is finger-like and open on one end. Test tubes come in many different sizes, but the standard size is 18 x 150 mm.

3. Watch glass

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Lab equipment names
Watch glass, chemical laboratory glassware on blue. Photo: Erierika
Source: Getty Images

A watch glass is a popular type of chemistry lab instrument. It's a concave piece of glass customarily used to hold solids, evaporate liquids, and heat small quantities of a substance.

4. Crucible

Lab equipment names
A platinum crucible and plate used to prepare fused beads. Photo: Matt Turner
Source: Getty Images

This apparatus is a small receptacle usually made using porcelain. Not all laboratory glassware is appropriate for heating as some can get damaged or break.

However, a crucible is heat-resistant and is ideal for containing compounds when heated to high temperatures. In addition, it has a lid that is meant to contain particles of smoke.

5. Volumetric flasks

Lab equipment names
Volumetric flasks with a coloured liquid. Photo: pixabay.com, @Phe Schlay
Source: UGC

Volumetric flasks are another popular chemistry laboratory equipment. It is a type of glassware calibrated to hold exact volumes of a liquid at a precise temperature. In chemistry, it is used to prepare standard solutions and for accurate dilutions.

There are different sizes of this flask, and the volume is usually indicated. Depending on what amount of solution you want to prepare, you can use a 50ml, 125ml, 250ml, 500ml, or 1000ml volumetric flask.

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6. Beakers

Lab equipment names
Beakers on a working bench. Photo: pixabay.com, @Goodward
Source: UGC

Just like test tubes, beakers are used to store, heat, or mix substances. Beakers are cylindrical with a flat base, have a spout, and do not have rounded bottoms. They also come in a variety of sizes.

7. Bunsen burner

Lab equipment names
A bunsen burner flame. Photo: pixabay.com, @Milesl
Source: UGC

It is used for sterilizing objects and heating. The gas used could be natural gas or liquified petroleum gas like methane.

8. Spatula

Lab equipment names
Laboratory spatula. Photo: Asikkk
Source: Getty Images

This type of laboratory apparatus resembles the kitchen spatula, just that it is much smaller. Spatulas are small hand-held tools used to scoop and transfer solids. They can also be used to apply paste-like treatments.

Most spatulas are resistant to acids and heat, making them suitable for use with a range of substances.

9. Magnifying glass

Lab equipment names
A magnifying glass on the table. Photo: pexels.com, @Eren Li
Source: UGC

This common laboratory apparatus produces a magnified image of an object. It's basically a convex lens in a frame with a handle.

10. Spring balance

Lab equipment names
Spring balance on white background illustration. Photo: Blueringmedia
Source: Getty Images

It is also referred to as a newton meter. The scale is used to measure the weight of an object by the tension of a spring. It consists of spring on one side and a hook on the other.

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It works by the principle of Hooke's law, which states that the force applied to an elastic object is directly proportional to the extension provided the elastic limit is not reached. This force gauge only measures weight and not mass.

11. Dropper

Lab equipment names
Liquid flowing out of a dropper. Photo: pexels.com, @Jill Burrow
Source: UGC

A dropper, also called a Pasteur pipette, is a short glass or plastic pipe with rubber on one side. It is used to deliver small amounts of liquids a single drop at a time.

12. Measuring cylinder

Lab equipment names
Different sizes of graduated cylinders. Photo: pexels.com, @Kindel Media
Source: UGC

This common type of laboratories apparatus is used to measure the volume of a liquid. It is graduated, and every marking shows the amount of a reagent. Just as the name suggests, this glassware is cylindrical and is also narrow.

13. Thermometer

Lab equipment names
A thermometer. Photo: pixabay.com, @Adriano Gadini
Source: UGC

We all have come across thermometers as we frequently use them at home. Thermometers used in laboratories are almost similar as they also measure the temperature of substances (not body temperature) and have a high degree of precision.

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14. Burette

Lab equipment names
A burette used for titration technique in the laboratory. Photo: Sinhyu
Source: Getty Images

This simple piece of chemistry laboratory apparatus is used to deliver known volumes of a substance. It is often used during titrations. It is a long graduated tube with a stopcock on at the lower end. The most popular burettes are the 50ml, 25 ml, and 10ml varieties.

15. Balance

Lab equipment names
An unknown person using an electronic balance. Photo: pexels.com, @ThisIsEngineering
Source: UGC

Solids are often weighed before use, as some experiments require exact amounts of substances. A balance is used to weigh objects. Analytical and toploading balances are the most commonly used types.

16. Funnels

Lab equipment names
A 3d glass separating funnel. Photo: Enot-poloskun
Source: Getty Images

Funnels are yet another essential kind of apparatus. They are used to deliver substances into vessels with small openings. There are several types, each with a different function, such as filter, thistle, and dropping funnels. Büchner and Hirsch's funnels are good examples of organic chemistry laboratory apparatus.

17. Wash bottle

Lab equipment names
Wash bottle filled with a range of common laboratory solvents and reagents. Photo: Arpon Pongkasetkam
Source: Getty Images

A wash bottle is a squeeze container with an extended nozzle. It is used to rinse glassware and for sterilization. Wash bottles are mostly made out of polyethylene. Depending on the task you wish to perform, you can fill it with another solvent, for example, ethanol or deionized water.

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18. Tongs

Lab equipment names
A photo of lab tongs. Photo: pixabay.com, @HeungSoon
Source: UGC

When working in a laboratory, you often have to deal with chemicals, heat, and other hazardous substances. Tongs are used to grasp harmful objects and also hold hot vessels. Each type of tongs is designed for a particular use. Typical examples are beaker, utility, and crucible tongs.

19. Ammeter

Lab equipment names
Laboratory ammeter. Photo: GeoM
Source: Getty Images

You will not miss this equipment in any physics lab. An ammeter is used to measure the amount of current in a circuit. The SI unit of current is Amperes (A).

20. Brushes for test tubes

Lab equipment names
Yellow brushes for test tubes. Photo: sergeyryzhov
Source: Getty Images

Our laboratory apparatus list cannot be complete without mentioning a tool used for cleaning. Brushes for test tubes are used to clean containers such as flasks, beakers, and test tubes. After use, an apparatus should always be cleaned and safely put away.

What lab equipment is used to measure mass?

A balance or scale is an instrument used to measure mass in the science laboratory. Types of balances are triple beam balance or electronic balance.

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What lab equipment is used to measure volume?

Various types of equipment can be used to measure volumes of different liquids. Such equipment are Erlenmeyer flasks, Florence flasks, graduated cylinders, beakers, volumetric flasks, burettes and pipettes.

This article contains some of the most common lab equipment names. Most of these names may not be new to you. However, you need to understand their uses to avoid using apparatus for the purpose they are not supposed to be used for.

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