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Five Laboratory Homogenizer Operating Tips

Operating a laboratory homogenizer looks to be relatively simple. What could go wrong? Plug it in and start the mixing operation. But hold on for a moment! You’re operating a small but relatively costly instrument designed to accomplish a variety of mixing, stirring, emulsifying and dispersing functions, many at high speeds and for long duration. Incorrectly operating your lab homogenizer can lead to unsatisfactory results at the low end and cause damage or spillage at the high end.

Basic Tips for Operating Your Lab Homogenizer

In the paragraph above we noted “small but relatively costly instrument.” Because of this there is often the temptation to hold your lab homogenizer in your hand. Yes, they are small, they are light in weight and there’s a temptation, especially for short mixing cycles, to hold the drive motor while operating the unit.

Bad move.

Why is that? The generator, also called the rotor-stator assembly, operates at very high (but user controlled) revolutions per minute.

Lab Homogenizer Operating Tip No. 1: Use a Drive Stand Assembly

For maximum effectiveness, the generator should be stably positioned to remain offset from the bottom of the flask or beaker holding samples. This avoids a vortex. There’s also the danger of causing contents to splash from the container if the operator is not paying close attention.

Hand fatigue may play a role, and in an extreme case the generator could strike the container and break it. Another point: It’s difficult if not impossible to control the speed of the generator drive motor when holding the unit.

The takeaway: Always use the drive stand assembly shipped as standard with CAT homogenizers. Although we do offer what we bill as the X120 hand held drive, we also recommend using the drive stand assembly with it.

Lab Homogenizer Operating Tip No. 2: Use the Right Homogenizer Tool for the Job

Mechanics, plumbers, carpenters, electricians and DIY enthusiasts know that jobs always go easier with the correct tools. So it is with operating a lab homogenizer. You’ll need to invest in the correct homogenizer tools that meet your requirements.

The Drive Motor

CAT Scientific stocks a variety of homogenizer drive units one of which should meet your needs. CAT offers choices in power (i.e. 125 to 1700 watts) and processing speed (4,000 to 45,000 RPM).

Remember this! Power is distinguished from generator speed, and power does not equate to rotor speed. Most homogenizer drive motors such as offered by CAT Scientific provide variable speed control. The good news here is that these drive motors accept more than one generator assembly (just as an electric drill accepts more than one bit size).

The Rotor-Stator (Generator) Assembly

Mismatching the homogenizer generator to the task at hand will certainly lead to unsatisfactory results. Not all rotor-stator assemblies work with all drive motors so check specifications before buying. We suggest you check our recent post on homogenizer generator specification tips for details on how these work.

Lab Homogenizer Operating Tip No. 3: Assemble Homogenizer Components Correctly

Who can argue? Take the time to make certain that all components are firmly in place. That includes that the rotor, stator and generator assembly are tightly mounted using the supplied mounting wrenches. Your CAT homogenizer operating manual covers this in detail.

Use the Drive Motor Mounting Bracket

We say it again! Your attention is apt to wander when attempting to manually hold a drive motor at the correct angle and the generator assembly at the correct level in the beaker. In addition to risking splashed samples or breaking flasks your time can better be spent preparing new samples or recording results.

Correctly Position the Generator in the Sample

If your shaft tube has cooling ports be certain they are immersed in the sample during homogenizing operations. This provides protection against component overheating that can damage bearings and seals.

Lab Homogenizer Operating Tip No. 4: Safety First

Homogenizer rotor and stators have very sharp teeth. Be careful handling them especially after they have been used and contaminated with samples.

Lab Homogenizer Operating Tip No. 5: Clean All Assemblies after Use

Clean rotor-stator generator assemblies including tubes and drive shafts after use and be careful about samples that may be corrosive. Note that samples that dry inside the stator tube assembly can damage seals and bearings and possibly destroy the mechanism. Check our article on homogenizer cleaning tips for details on this important function.

And, in closing, as the cynics say, if all else fails read the operating manual for your CAT homogenizer.

With proper care your CAT homogenizer should give years of service. Feel free to contact us for assistance in picking the correct model along with compatible dispersing shaft assemblies.

 

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Bob Wilcox

Bob Wilcox has represented CAT Scientific’s family of homogenizers, magnetic stirrers, liquid handling and related laboratory equipment since 2002 when Staufen, Germany-based CAT Ingenieurbüro M. Zipperer GMbH established operations in North America. Bob oversees CAT Scientific laboratory apparatus sales and service organization from the company’s headquarters in Paso Robles, CA. He also is in charge of the parent company’s line of JetCat jet turbines, turboprop, and helicopter power plants for hobbyists’ radio controlled fixed wing and helicopter model aircraft. -- Earlier in Bob’s career he was involved in visual and special effects as well as camera and electronics supervisory responsibilities for the motion picture and television industry.

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