Effect of Environment on Test Equipment Used for Pipette Calibration
The reliability of experimental and test results is becoming increasingly important in both the pharmaceutical industry and academia. Revolutions like that of nanotechnology have helped us appreciate the critical difference that tiny sizes on the magnitude of hundredths of thousandths can make in science, medicine, and technology.

The pipette, which is heavily relied on in science to deliver repeated and precise fluid volumes, is subject to volume error and can thus impact highly sensitive tests. As a result, scientists whose data depend on pipettes usually use a pipette calibration service, in the hopes that the service will eliminate any random variations or inaccuracies in their pipette measurements (e.g., if you use different pipettes in your lab and they have different, unknown error rates, your results will suffer from a very hard-to-pin down random errors).

However, researchers do not always realize that the pipette calibration process itself can be adversely impacted by some of the same factors that impact pipettes in the lab. Of particular significance is the effect of the testing environment. Factors like temperature, humidity, and partial pressure can promote evaporation during the calibration process, which lead to unreliable test equipment. Specifically, if the pipettes are in warmer environments for an extended period of time, air in the pipette warms, which leads to greater air expansion and a more significant impact on measured volume. Another major contributor to pipetting inaccuracies is variability in the surrounding environment. It is therefore important that pipettes sit in their calibration environment for an hour and half before calibration is conducted.

Off-site Calibration Minimizes Environmental Sabotage

Based on the impact of environment on pipette measurements, it is important that calibration services minimize those effects to ensure the reliability of results obtained with pipettes. One strategy to reduce environmental impact on pipette calibration is to calibrate pipettes off-site. Those who provide pipette calibration services off-site are able to control all the environmental factors that can adversely impact pipette volume and the integrity of calibration. For instance, off-site calibration centers will maintain an optimal temperature and humidity for pipette calibration, and these variables will be constant. On the other hand, on-site calibrators are forced to calibrate at the site’s temperature and humidity level, and because temperature and humidity are likely to vary between sites, or rooms within a site, the calibration services cannot be optimized.

Other important environmental factors that can be controlled off-site are vibration and air currents, which can considerably affect calibration results. The best calibrators use microbalances to measure the weight of fluid contained in pipettes in addition to volume. Microbalances perform best in environments with minimal vibration and movement. Thus, off-site calibrators utilize 600-pound tables made of marble, as well as ergonomic chairs within strategically designed rooms to ensure that even motion that is not detectable without the use of highly sophisticated equipment does not impact the quality of their pipette calibration.

Companies like TTE laboratories, who provide high quality off-site pipette calibration services, can serve as critical components of the scientific process for those whose data depends on the use of accurate and precise liquid volumes. TTE is committed to providing exceptional calibration services and uses specific strategies, designs, and equipment in its lab to minimize environmental factors that can sabotage the calibration process. To see more about how TTE provides superior calibration with its off-site laboratory, visit our Metrology-Driven Pipette Calibration page.