How to Avoid Pitfalls When Buying Pre-Owned Lab Equipment

Whether you're a student on a tight budget or a lab manager looking to cut costs, buying pre-owned lab equipment can sometimes be a financial necessity. However, while second-hand equipment can reduce your spend, it does have its pitfalls. If you're not careful, you could end up with non-functioning equipment that messes with your scientific accuracy or tools that break not long after you buy them. If you want to ensure that the pre-owned lab equipment you buy is as good as new, here are 3 tips to follow.

Choose Reputable, Recent Equipment

Not all second-hand lab equipment is made equally, and many of the products on the pre-owned market are shoddily made or completely outdated. Just because one technician used the product for months or years, doesn't necessarily mean it will stand up to the standards of your establishment. If you want to ensure you get the best pre-owned equipment, only buy apparatuses that were manufactured by trusted and certified companies within recent years. Opting for well-manufactured equipment will ensure that you end up with tools work as they should and were built to last. Likewise, by only buying items that were produced recently, you can be sure that replacement parts and components will still be available to purchase if needed.

Question Your Supplier

While questioning the supplier may seem like an obvious tip, many people buying second-hand equipment neglect to ask the right questions. The first thing you ask a vendor when buying a pre-owned tool is to see the item in use. This will prove that it's in working order as well as show you how to use it if you're not familiar with that particular product or brand. Ideally, you should take a list of the equipment's functionality to the test run so you can make sure all the features are in working order.

On top of that, you'll need a checklist of the accessories that should come with the equipment so the vendor can confirm that all power cords and essentials are provided (or so you can secure a discount if they're missing). When purchasing from a large-scale pre-owned vendor (whether it's the original manufacturer or a third party), it's also a good idea to find out whether they offer a warranty and service contract in case the equipment breaks down suddenly after you purchase it. Finally, make sure the tool comes with a maintenance log so you can see its full history.

Get the Equipment Calibrated

Calibration is an essential for all laboratory equipment, but it's even more crucial for pre-owned pieces. All lab equipment can lose accuracy over time, so using second-hand equipment that hasn't been calibrated can significantly interfere with your experiment results. Check the maintenance log you asked the vendor for to see when the last calibration was performed. If the tool wasn't calibrated between the last time the previous owner used it and the time it was sold to you, you definitely need to call a calibration service yourself. Even if the equipment has been recently calibrated, you may want to get a second service done yourself for peace of mind.