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In general, commonly used laboratory items such as pipette tips, pipettes, and PCR plates are made of polypropylene. Cell culture plates/bottles, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) plates, or chemiluminescent plates are often made of polystyrene. As for centrifuge tubes, various plastic materials may be used, and let's take a look at the characteristics of these different plastic materials using centrifuge tubes as an example.
Plastic centrifuge tubes are generally made of materials such as PP (polypropylene), PC (polycarbonate), PE (polyethylene), etc. PP tubes generally exhibit good performance. Plastic centrifuge tubes are transparent or semi-transparent, allowing for a visual check of the sample centrifugation status. However, they are prone to deformation and have poor resistance to the corrosiveness of organic solvents, resulting in a relatively short lifespan.
PP (Polypropylene): Semi-transparent, good chemical and temperature stability, but becomes brittle at low temperatures, so it is not recommended for centrifugation below 4°C.
PC (Polycarbonate): Good transparency, high hardness, suitable for high-temperature sterilization, but not resistant to strong acids, strong bases, and some organic solvents like alcohol. Mainly used for ultra-high-speed centrifugation exceeding 50,000 rpm.
PE (Polyethylene): Opaque. Does not react with acetone, acetic acid, hydrochloric acid, etc., relatively stable, and tends to soften at high temperatures.
PA (Polyamide): This material is a polymer of PP and PE. It is semi-transparent, chemically stable, but not resistant to high temperatures.
PS (Polystyrene): Transparent, high hardness, stable in most aqueous solutions, but corroded by various organic substances. Often used for low-speed centrifugation and typically for single-use.
PF (Polyfluoro): Semi-transparent, suitable for low-temperature use. This material can be used in experiments conducted at -100°C to -140°C.
CAB (Cellulose Acetate Butyrate): Transparent, suitable for dilute acids, alkalis, salts, as well as the gradient determination of alcohol and sucrose.
Therefore, it is necessary to choose the appropriate material for laboratory consumables based on different experimental requirements. Otherwise, there may be issues such as leakage, breakage, leading to the loss of valuable experimental samples, and sometimes causing damage to expensive experimental equipment.