How to Care for and Maintain a Thermal Mixer

Thermal Mixer

How to Care for and Maintain a Thermal Mixer

Thermal mixers are essential equipment found in most laboratories. However, they require the right care and maintenance to continue providing value. Once you know how to care for them, the process should easily become a part of your laboratory management routine. You'll reap the rewards of your hard work in the form of long-lasting, fine-tuned equipment that provides accurate and reliable results.

Discover more about thermal mixers and how to clean, disinfect and inspect them in this article.

What Is a Thermal Mixer and What Is It Used For?

Thermal mixers are a type of laboratory equipment used to mix samples in microplates, tubes, flasks, beakers and vials. They maintain sample temperature during mixing through heating and cooling capabilities.

In fields such as biology and chemistry, thermal mixers are vital for working with DNA, RNA, plasmids, immunoassays and more. They're useful for routine applications, including cell cultures, enzymatic reactions, various assays and protein digestions. Your application will dictate the type of thermal mixer and the level of mixing action you need.

Why Is Thermal Mixer Maintenance Important?

With constant use and little attention to care, thermal mixers and their internal components may wear down or malfunction quicker. Maintaining and caring for them is crucial, as malfunctioning equipment can interrupt delicate processes and cause unexpected downtime for laboratories. Neglecting to clean and care for mixers can also result in cross-contamination, which will decrease the reliability of the results.

Regular maintenance of your thermal mixers will maintain their overall accuracy, efficiency and performance. Additionally, you'll reduce the chance of costly repairs and prolong their life span.

Thermal Mixer Care and Maintenance Tips

Creating a consistent routine for cleaning, inspection and preventative maintenance in your lab is crucial for the longevity of thermal mixers. Before you begin cleaning and maintenance, disconnect the thermal mixer from the power source and wait until the components are cool. Additionally, consult the mixer's equipment manual for specific maintenance details.

Here are a few general tips to keep in mind as you go through the mixer cleaning process:

1. Cleaning

Leftover residue, spills, dust and debris can contaminate samples and compromise accuracy and validity. Regularly clean your thermal mixers to limit the risk of contamination and ensure peak operating efficiency. It is recommended to lightly clean them after each use and give them a thorough, deep clean weekly.

  • Surface: Wipe the exterior surface of your thermal mixer with a soft cloth lightly moistened with detergent. You can use standard dish soap or laboratory cleaners for this task, as long as they have a neutral pH and are not corrosive. Don't forget to wipe down the area around and under your mixer as well.
  • Well: Clean your thermal mixer with swabs soaked in isopropyl alcohol. For large spills, use a mixture of sodium hypochlorite and water in a 1:100 ratio and use a swab to clean out the mess. Once you're done, immediately use isopropyl alcohol to evaporate the water and wipe it down with a dry cloth or swab.
  • Lid: Like the well, you should clean the thermal components in the lid with isopropyl alcohol.
  • Vent: Keeping the vents clean and clear is vital for your thermal mixer. Use a small nozzle on a vacuum or a brush to gently remove dust from the vents. Once they're relatively dust-free, use a cloth soaked in isopropyl alcohol to clean each slat.
  • Adhesive mat: Sticky surfaces designed for thermal mixers keep flasks and tubes in place, but they also collect residue, dust and debris. Wash your adhesive mats with warm water, mild soap and a scouring pad to make them clean and sticky again.

2. Disinfection

Along with regular cleaning, thermal mixers should be disinfected and sterilized monthly. This is particularly important after a spill to prevent contamination and damage and stop odors from developing. 

Correct Gear For Equipment Disinfection

Before disinfecting your equipment, wear the correct safety gear, such as gloves and goggles. You must use an antimicrobial disinfectant like 70% ethanol or quaternary ammonium to clean your thermal mixer. These surfactants are effective without causing corrosion or damage like bleach does. What's most important is leaving the solution to sit for between five minutes to an hour before wiping, depending on the severity of the contamination.

3. Temperature

Thermal mixers generate excess heat due to their moving components. However, they may generate more heat than expected if they're dirty or not operating smoothly.

Ensure your thermal mixer retains its temperature control by checking its coolant levels annually. Your equipment's manual will inform you of the correct fill level within the coolant reservoir. It's also vital to keep the area around your thermal mixer free of obstructions that may hinder ventilation. Dust can also cause temperatures to rise, so regular cleaning will help with temperature regulation, too.

4. Calibration

Over time, thermal mixers may lose some of their precision when it comes to their speed and temperature control. The actual conditions within the equipment will vary compared to its readings, making it hard to meet the incredibly precise requirements of certain experiments and procedures.

Consistent, reliable results not impacted by equipment variables will ensure valid and reproducible results. To maintain the performance of your thermal mixers, take them to a certified calibration facility once a year.

5. Inspection

Schedule a professional thermal mixer inspection annually. A trained and certified technician will inspect the device controls, electrical components and moving parts for any issues. They might also give the device a light clean.

Checking all components yearly will help you identify problems before they escalate and cause costly damage. The technician may suggest replacing worn-down parts for this reason. Paying for a replacement part before it breaks is often cheaper than waiting for it to malfunction, as this can damage other parts of the equipment.

Browse Thermal Mixers From Boekel Scientific

Since 1868, Boekel Scientific has brought innovation and integrity to the laboratory equipment industry. We design and manufacture our range of medical equipment and laboratory products with a focus on quality, reliability and durability to give you peace of mind. Additionally, we're an ISO 13485:2016 certified company and a leader within our industry.

We have multiple options for lab thermal mixers available. They're designed to be compact with a small footprint and feature programmable mixing and temperature configurations. Additionally, you can rely on their highly accurate automatic calibration to support your sample mixing. We're also able to customize our equipment to your lab's unique needs.

Ready to upgrade your lab with high-quality, effective equipment? Browse our thermal mixers and our dry block heaters to find the right one for your work, and request a quote today.

Browse Thermal Mixers From Boekel Scientific