Why An Accurate Pipette Is Important

An accurate pipette is critical in laboratory research because of its role in the accurate measurement and transfer of liquids.

The ability to replicate and accurately measure fluid transfer affects the outcome of the research experiment.

Measurement Accuracy

Scientific research depends on precise measurements.  A laboratory that cannot accurately measure the transfer of fluids will not produce reliable results.  The ability to transfer very small amounts of liquid is crucial to a laboratory’s success.  The transfers have to be extremely accurate and repeatable.  Every test tube must receive exactly the same amount of test fluid in every instance.  Any variance will invalidate the result.

Many labs have turned to liquid handlers to automate this process.

Pipetting Process

Pipetting can be done with or without machine assistance

Manual pipetting is appropriate in small applications.  It requires the steady hand of an experienced technician.  Manual pipetting is straightforward.  The best practice is to have the same technician perform all pipetting actions.  Introducing multiple technicians introduces the risk of technician-to-technician variability.

Semi-automatic machines can be employed to scale up production and introduce standardization of sample size.  A technician only has to transfer a hand probe from one receptacle to another.

Automated liquid handlers can perform the entire process.  New machines have been introduced with cameras which help cut down on common lab errors, such as a “missing tube”.

Automated liquid handlers are appropriate for processes that require hundreds of samples simultaneously.  These machines ensure that samples are processed consistently and with no deviation.

Sample Integrity

Accurate pipetting allows small sample volumes to be transferred with no loss.  This preserves the integrity of biological samples in fields like genomics and drug discovery.

All phases of clinical testing are susceptible to error.  Rigid fluid handling procedures and protocols must be enforced to produce accurate laboratory results.

Improving Pipette Accuracy

It behoves all lab technicians to be accurate with a pipette.  There are learnable techniques to improve one’s technique.

Use the best pipette for the job.  Positive displacement pipettes with low volume ranges are considered the best.  Positive displacement technology offers better accuracy and precision when compared to air-cushion pipettes.

Use the right technique.  Most liquids can be dispensed using a straightforward technique.  Other liquids like ethanol and glycerol, are better dispersed using the reverse pipetting technique.


To keep your pipettes and liquid handling systems in top condition is it important to follow proper maintenance procedures.

Clean the external surfaces of your pipettes with a mild detergent and water. Avoid getting water or other liquids inside the pipettes.

Calibrate your pipettes at regular intervals to ensure they maintain their accuracy.

If your pipettes use disposable tips, be sure to replace them after each use to avoid cross-contamination.

Store your pipettes in an upright position in a designated rack to prevent damage.

Proper pipetting procedures will help your laboratory maintain its accreditation.

Liquid handling seems simple on the surface.  The truth is, it can be a highly complex process that has to be mastered for a laboratory to be successful and produce accurate repeatable results.

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