Getting the Centrifuge You Need

It’s hard to find a research lab without a centrifuge to process samples. In biochemistry and cellular and molecular biology, centrifugation is used for isolating cells, subcellular organelles, and macromolecules. In pharmaceutical studies and drug discovery, centrifuges are used in bioproduction, vaccine production, and metabolism studies. In food processing, this versatile instrument removes inbound moisture, filters particles, and ensures the quality of products.


Centrifuges operate by separating colloidal particles and simulating gravitational effects to settle materials according to density. Choosing a centrifuge compatible with volume of production and specific application needs will ensure more dependable performance and endurance. The choice of materials and features will influence its durability and functionality as well.

Why Look for These Features?

For a centrifuge that takes up limited bench space, look for a compact footprint. For a unit that lasts and handles what you need it to, try these features:

  • Anticorrosive material: Carbon fiber is durable and lightweight, and will hold up longer over time than metal or aluminum components.
  • Biocontainment rotors: To maintain biosafety and reduce the risk of contamination, biocontainment rotors with click-shut lids keep the samples from spilling inside sealed buckets as they are loaded.
  • Glove-friendly: The front panel and rotor exchange don’t snag your lab gloves. Allows users to change rotors with ease. Models with click-shut lids offer one-handed operation.
  • Refrigeration: Eliminate any heat damage to samples by keeping the interior cooled with refrigeration.
  • Rotor balance protection: Alerts users to imbalances resulting from improperly installed rotors or samples placed unevenly. Once detected, the function will shut the centrifuge down.
  • Rotor versatility: Select a swing-out rotor when you want sample tubes to move from vertical to horizontal once the centrifuge speeds up. This type works well for cell culturing applications which leave sediment at the bottom of the tube. Fixed-angle rotors stay intact and typically work faster than swing-out rotors. To perform multiple tasks, choose a centrifuge that accommodates a variety of adapters. Select a model that doesn’t require the use of tools to change out rotors and adapters and is ergonomically sound.

Which Model is Right for Me?

Microcentrifuges are used in genomics, molecular biology, biochemistry, and pharmaceutical studies. These units handle micro-volume protocols for DNA/RNA isolation and purification, filtration separations and concentrators, and PCR. They also perform bacteria, yeast, and virus pelleting, virus isolation, and cellular components studies.

Pre-clinical centrifuges do mammalian cell pelleting and cell lysate clarification and isolate subcellular organelle/plasma membranes, among other applications.

Small benchtop centrifuges harvest stem cells and accomplish nearly all of the same functions as microcentrifuges.

Cole-Parmer Centrifuge

Similarly, general-purpose centrifuges offer more power, with vastly higher rpms (up to 17,000), yet mimic small benchtop centrifuges in their capabilities. In addition to handling nearly all of the same applications, they also handle mammalian cell pelleting and cell lysate clarification, isolate subcellular organelle/plasma membranes, process tissue and cell cultures, and are used in cell toxicity studies.

Large-capacity centrifuges process larger volumes and maximize productivity. Use these centrifuges for tissue and cell culture processing, stem cell harvesting, cell harvesting, bacteria, yeast, and virus pelleting, virus isolation, bioproduction, and vaccine production.

Other specialty centrifuges are available for food processing, agricultural chemicals, water analysis, sediment determination such as biofuel and petroleum testing, and fat analysis.

While this list is not exhaustive, it provides solutions for most laboratory applications. Ultracentrifuges spin rotors at very high speeds for uses including characterizing proteins. These units require special rotors and may have a limited lifetime.

View our full selection of centrifuges.

Shop all options for Centrifuge and Microcentriuge Tubes available from Cole-Parmer