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PCR Cabinets – Dead Air Enclosure vs Laminar Flow

Purchasing and installing the correct type of PCR Cabinet is crucial to business success. There’s an eye-watering range of different cabinets, hoods, work enclosures, and stations – all of them uniquely designed for use in laboratories. Where do you begin?

In this resource, we’re going to look at two of the most popular PCR Cabinet architectures – dead air and laminar flow. It’s essential that you know the differences between the two arrangements and which one is more suitable for your work procedures. Using the most appropriate design makes for reliable lab results and efficient work.

What is a PCR Cabinet?

If you’ve landed on this page then there’s a pretty good chance that you already know what a PCR Cabinet is. Nonetheless, a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) cabinet is a dedicated laboratory workspace that is enclosed on three sides, with one side open for operator access.

They are typically used in genetic and biology laboratories, and they’re designed for targeting specific DNA sample sequences and amplifying DNA and RNA. The simple, inexpensive technique is widely used in laboratories throughout the UK.

The main purpose of this piece of equipment is to provide an enclosed space that prevents cross-contamination. That contamination-free environment is essential for sensitive work that involves segment detection, copying, and testing.

This is where PCR cabinet quality counts – the environment must remain sterile throughout the duration of the PCR procedure. If there are leaks, gaps, or faulty air flows within the cabinet, the results will be inaccurate and unreliable. That leads to high operating costs, wasted time, and lost clients.

So it’s essential that you install a unit with quality sterilisation. Namely, there are two different ways of providing a contamination-free environment; laminar airflow and dead air box. Each of them has its advantages and disadvantages.

Laminar Flow

In a laminar flow arrangement, air is circulated throughout the cabinet workspace. That air is filtered and moves smoothly and consistently through the workspace in parallel layers.

A high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter prevents contamination from the air coming into the workspace, and it can also be used to filter the exhaust air before it’s released to atmosphere. An optional fan can further influence the airflow.

This arrangement also features UV sterilisation which is timed for optimal sterilisation. Generally, raising the sash will halt the UV light and begin airflow.

Dead Air Box

Dead air boxes, on the other hand, do exactly as you might imagine. The air is ‘dead’ in these enclosures, and there is no airflow whatsoever. With circulation-free air inside the enclosure there’s a greatly reduced chance of air particulates coming into contact with the laboratory work samples.

UV sterilisation is used in a dead air box arrangement as well. In both cases, UV sterilisation is carefully timed to prevent potential contamination. In the Dead Air Box arrangement, the UV light is timed to sterilise between amplifications.

Each of these arrangements is designed by experts, and fully approved and certified for use. Whether you would like to use Laminar Flow or Dead Air Box comes down to personal preference and laboratory suitability.

What About Laminar Flow Cabinets?

You’re not the first one to point out the similarities between Laminar Flow PCR Cabinets and LAF cabinets. Admittedly, although the two designs are comparable, there are a few significant differences.

First of all, laminar air flow cabinets are suitable for a greater range of laboratory procedures. This can be anything from medical tasks all the way to electronic tasks.

They aren’t suited to biological and genetic work because they don’t use UV sterilisation. Another interesting difference is that the operator can choose whether they would like a design with a horizontal airflow, or a vertical airflow, since a HEPA filter still forms part of the assembly.

PCR Cabinets with ISG Fume

ISG Fume creates bespoke cabinets that are specific to user intent – at no additional cost.

We use the highest quality construction materials and build our cabinets with medical grade welded Polypropylene. The airflow – in either arrangement – is fully safe and compliant, and completely customised to the size and applications you need.

With our PCR Cabinets your staff are safe, your laboratory is efficient, and your DNA samples are free from the risk of contamination.

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