Monday 12 April 2021

Why Buy a Used Spectrophotometer?


The pharmaceutical industry finds itself subjected to closer scrutiny than most others. For this reason, professional chemists and pharmacists need access to a wide variety of sensitive and highly specialized instruments. This includes spectrophotometers.

 A post by Emily Newton.

Compliance demands and customer safety require well-controlled and tightly monitored production processes within pharmaceutical plants and research labs. Spectrophotometers handle multiple duties as a workhorse of the pharma sector.


Applications include detecting contaminants and ensuring consistency with things like:





     Drug effects

     Ratios of active ingredients


Whether the end result is a pill, powder or cream, spectrophotometers study light as it passes through a substance to determine its qualities and likely effects. This type of equipment helps ensure products provoke the same reaction in patients each time, are consistently visually recognizable and are perfectly formulated across the board.


As competition within the pharmaceutical industry heats up thanks to globalization and new emerging markets, the barriers to entry continue to fluctuate, including used and new spectrophotometer prices. Outfitting a pharmaceutical company with modern technology comes at a cost, which is why buying a used spectrophotometer is often the logical choice.

The Advantages of Buying a Used Spectrophotometer


Saving money on startup costs is the primary draw of purchasing used pharmaceutical equipment. A thriving secondary market for spectrometry devices and other assets is important for keeping prices manageable and competition high.


One might even say there’s a correlation between manageable spectrophotometer prices and reasonable drug costs. Fair pricing on lab equipment helps improve competition, keeping prices low and producing a steady flow of ever-more-effective products to market.


Purchasing an advanced unit on the used market has advantages of its own, too. The learning curve with digital-first bioprocessing 4.0 technologies can be steep, but buying used means it’s cheaper to get new hires up to speed on new ways to work without a huge day-one buy-in.


The element of competition feeds into the final reason to consider a used spectrometry equipment purchase, too. As new markets join the world stage, more public health events manifest. People want quicker responses to emerging health care needs, and companies everywhere will find themselves seeking the same kind of equipment at the same time.


Buying used could mean securing a functional and perfectly suitable unit now instead of waiting for a newer, more expensive, widely in-demand item to become available for purchase.

Factors and Features to Consider


Used spectrophotometers are not one-size-fits-all. In fact, there’s considerable variation in the market even though each device performs a fairly similar function. Here are some of the factors and features to consider when looking at used spectrophotometer offerings.

What Is the Unit Needed For?


Companies or teams have a set of distinctive requirements today. What about tomorrow, though? This is a not-inconsequential investment, so know what emerging needs are likely to be. Workflows might look different in a few months or years as a business tackles a wider range of tasks and product specifications.

What Do Samples Look Like?


It’s important to have a practical understanding of the samples being worked with. Solids and concentrated liquids require higher absorbance ranges than fluids do.


Some spectrometry devices are equipped out-of-the-box with basic water analysis capabilities. If more comprehensive tests need to be designed throughout the visible range, a higher-capability benchtop spectrophotometer will be required instead.


Units in the 190-1,100 nanometer range are good enough for typical usage. Those closer to 1,400 nm provide greater versatility for a wider range of samples and applications.

Has Throughput Been Considered?


Newer models and even a lot of used ones provide automation features that help lab staff process more samples at once. If accuracy is a more pressing concern than scalability, a different model might be best, like one with dual beams. Knowing throughput expectations and tolerance for human error will help steer choice.

Microplates or Cuvettes?


Some spectrophotometers support only one or the other. Other models support both. Think through likely applications, volumes and workflows before getting excited about a promising used unit found on the market.

Standalone or PC-Based?


Routine spectroscopy tasks will go perfectly well with standalone instruments that don’t have export functions for computer workstations. On the other hand, data visualization, export and complex parameter manipulation call for more advanced models with accompanying PC software.

Is There Software Support?


Saving money by purchasing a used spectrophotometer seems like a straightforward proposition until someone begins looking at advanced models. Some pre-owned units do not include the software required for them to function. Purchasing a license may represent an added expense in these cases.


Additionally, used units may not have the longevity of hardware or software support that brand-new models would provide. Depending on the scale of the work being done and how long the unit will need to be accessed, this may not be a primary concern.


It’s also important to note that even basic documentation for used spectrophotometers might be missing or difficult to find, even on the internet. Someone who wants to improve their peace of mind during the buying process should find a unit that’s well-known and well-documented. That way, they can troubleshoot or even reach out to the manufacturer for guidance if needed.

Is the Platform Compatible?


Assuming the used spectrophotometer is everything the seller claims, it may still be hard to find software that’s compatible with existing platforms and workstations. If a model was built for Windows XP, know that Microsoft ceased supporting that operating system back in 2014.


Meanwhile, Windows 7 will continue to receive core security and usability updates through 2023, meaning spectrophotometers built for this platform are still relevant and will be for a couple more years. Microsoft plans to support Windows 10 for the foreseeable future.


Spectrometry equipment that requires an unsupported version of Windows can still be workable, there may be risks. Such devices should be air-gapped on a local network to prevent outside parties from leveraging unresolved security exploits.

Buying Used Is Logical if Someone Knows What They Need


Spectrophotometers make it possible for patients and customers to tell different products apart from one another by keeping colors and visual characteristics consistent. Just as importantly, these devices ensure the precise measurement of active ingredients in each batch of products.


One of the reasons buying spectrophotometers used is a popular cost-cutting maneuver is because they are easy to maintain, despite their sensitivity. If someone finds a well-cared-for unit on a secondhand marketplace, there’s a good chance little has been done to it apart from replacing the tungsten or deuterium lamps.


Still, always buy from a known entity on an established marketplace. If someone turns to a trusted party to find it, there’s no reason a used spectrophotometer won’t provide accurate and reliable performance for years to come.


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