Types of Chromatography Machines and Common Applications

4 min read

Have you ever wondered how food is tested and determined to be what the label on the packaging claims it to be? Or have you wondered how forensic detectives can catch criminals from tiny DNA fragments like blood or hair samples?

In both cases, most likely a chromatography machine was involved.

Let’s break down how these machines work to show how they make incredible discoveries daily.

What is Chromatography?

Chromatography is a medical laboratory technique that aims to separate mixtures of fluids and isolate molecular substances. The end goal is isolating a sample into its constituent individual components.

This is generally done using a “stationary” phase, usually a solid and a “mobile” phase. The mobile phase, typically a gas such as nitrogen or helium, carries the substance sample to be analyzed through the stationary phase.

When this occurs, the constituent parts of the sample to be isolated react in different manners with the stationary phase. They are identified based on their physical characteristics, as evidenced by their reaction to the stationary phase.

The components’ identification is accomplished using various detection techniques and methods such as visible light spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, or even flame ionization.

Types of Chromatography

There are a few different chromatography techniques. The first is Liquid Chromatography (LC), a technique with a mobile liquid phase and a solid stationary phase constructed in a column or plane of the material substrate.

Other variants include super-critical fluid chromatography (SCF), which, as the name alludes, is performed on mixtures at high pressures and temperatures. Furthermore, Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC) separates inert (meaning non-volatile) mixtures.

Another subset of chromatography worth mentioning is High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) because it is used in the pharmaceutical industry to analyze and test the quality of the drug manufacturing process. In short, this technique enables drug manufacturers to ensure that critical ingredient concentrations are correct in every dose.

High Performance Liquid Chromatography Set Up

Notable Chromatography Instrument Developers

Some notable developers and manufacturers of chromatography instrument technology include Agilent Technologies, Thermo-Fischer Scientific, Shimadzu, GL Sciences, PerkinElmer, and Tosoh Corporation.

Examples of Chromatography Applications

Chromatography is famous in various scientific research industries and initiatives but is very important in many other fields.

It is a diverse tool that can be adapted to fit various industries and disciplines. Almost any industry that needs to determine component compositions of mixtures or components may have a use for chromatography techniques.

Other areas not mentioned previously where chromatography techniques and machines are employed include drug clinical trials, food and beverage safety testing, and even vaccine creation.  

One common application is that certain alcohol brands use chromatography to ensure their products do not contain too much sugar or unwanted fermentation byproducts.

Liquid Chromatography with Mass Detector

Common Chromatography Machine Components

The amazing part is that, even though chromatography is a molecular process, it cannot be accomplished without configurable machine components. Much of the sample preparation progression is a mechanical process within the machine, unseen by the user.

To this end, compact chromatography machines contain dozens of configurable machine components. Some of the most common include:

Configurable components are MISUMI’s specialty, which offers significant value and cost savings to your lab automation machine and equipment builds.

We understand the complex engineering requirements of lab machines and equipment. We are adept at supporting design engineers from concept to production, and we strive to meet all your engineering specifications while minimizing cost.

MISUMI is a one-stop shop that partners with hundreds of renowned brands to provide standard, custom, and configurable components to get your build to the finish line. To learn more about how we partner with engineers in the medical field, click here.

About the Author

Geoffrey Green

Geoffrey Green is currently an industry segment manager for the Medical Industry at MISUMI. His role involves developing strategies for how MISUMI's offering of products can be utilized in providing solutions for medical automation. Prior to his role as industry segment manager, Geoffrey worked as a sales engineer at MISUMI. In his sales role, he served the San Francisco Bay Area and Pacific Northwest of the U.S. and focused entirely in the medical industry. During this 4 year period, Geoffrey became an expert assisting customers with their medical automation designs. Before taking on his roles at MISUMI, Geoffrey has worked in the plastic bearing, robotics, and solar industries and received his degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Colorado.

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