Pipet Tip Packaging Options

Eppendorf epT.I.P.S. Packaging

Figure 1: Eppendorf epT.I.P.S. Packaging.

Much of the cost of pipet tips is in the packaging. For example, a bag of 1000 bulk tips may cost $20 or less, however 960 tips purchased already racked may cost as much as $50 or more for the same brand. Let’s take a look at what your packaging options and some ways to save money.

Convenience vs. Economy

The least expensive way to buy pipet tips is without a rack of any kind. Just a bag of loose tips which can either be shipped in a plastic bag or in a box. Many university students get their first taste of true boredom when their P.I. assigns them the task of putting pipet tips from a bulk bag into empty racks. If you’ve got free labor available, then this certainly is a way of saving money at the risk of making a science major switch to business school. The downside to bulk packaging is:

  • There is neither assurance of sterility nor any assurances that DNA and RNA or endotoxins will remain absent. Handling tips ensures DNA contamination and lack of sterility.
  • Dust and dirt and biological fluids may contaminate the tips.
  • Unless they are macro tips (e.g., 5 ml or 10 ml) you will probably end up putting them in racks which is labor intensive especially if they must be autoclaved.

Racked Tips in Disposable Plastic Boxes

This is the way most people buy pipet tips today. They are convenient. They stay clean until you open the package and use them and you don’t have to do anything except pipet. However when it comes to putting tips in boxes, there are many variations between manufacturers.

We’ve looked at many different tips and our vote for best packaging goes to Eppendorf. The box shown in Figure 1 is as well engineered as a 7 series BMW. Even the latch can be easily opened with a single push from a gloved hand! Consider that there are three different types of bar codes on the box, lot numbers and lot tracking, shrink wrapping and even a frequent buyer program on the inside of the box!

If you want the Rolls Royce of packaging pipet tips, then look no further. Guess what – Eppendorf tips are universal and fit most any universal pipettor. Here are some things to keep in mind when you are considering a racked pipet tip:

  • Is the lid hinged or not? Lids that are unhinged can be a help or a hindrance depending on your needs. Many of the hinged lids (like Eppendorf) can function both ways.
  • Is the box autoclavable? If you plan to sterilize your tips, make sure they can be autoclaved first!
  • How much waste is there? If the quantity of waste is a concern, then you may wish to consider other packaging options (see below.)
  • Do you need documentation such as lot number control? Some have it, some don’t. Check first.

Environmentally Friendly Packaging – Savings Two Things at Once

Environmentally Friendly Packaging Savings Two Things at Once

Let’s face it, pipetting results in a lot of plastic to be disposed. A number of manufacturers have taken steps to reduce the amount of waste as well as energy used to produce their product. One of the best examples is Labcon (maker of VWR private label tips) http://www.labcon.com/earthfriendly.html. There is a certain amount of reluctance to utilize refillable boxes based on some really awful reloading devices and schemes used in the past. However today’s nested wafer based reload packages combine the economy of bulk with the convenience of racked resulting in a saving money AND drastically cutting the amount of solid waste.

In our opinion, these new refill systems are great. There is very little additional labor required. This is a great way to save money and save energy too.