Research is expensive, and laboratory expenses can be a major part of that expense. It is natural for researchers to try and set up their laboratory on a budget so they can preserve as much of their funding as possible for their experiments. Fortunately, it is fairly easy to cut costs when installing a laboratory. There are a few different techniques that can save money, and it is worth considering all of them if you need to stretch your grants.
Try Used Gear
Labs need plenty of reusable tools, such as microscopes and storage lockers, and those tools tend to be the biggest investments. You can often save money on them by purchasing used models from specialized retailers. The equipment is usually quite durable, so used models are not appreciably inferior to new ones in the vast majority of cases.
The downside to relying on this methods is that it can be unreliable. There is never a guarantee that a vital piece of equipment will be available used. That means that most people cannot rely exclusively on used equipment to cut their costs. Instead, it is best to think of it as an extra discount. Search for used items before looking for new ones, but don’t build your budget on the assumption that they will be available.
Laboratory safety should be your first priority when you are setting up your facilities. Since you know that you will need to purchase and install safety equipment in your laboratory, you should start by planning for it. You can save some money at this stage by keeping your work area compact, so that you do not need to install eyewash stationsand other expensive safety tools in multiple locations. This requires thorough planning to make sure that you do not accidentally make your laboratory unsafe, but it will help you to conserve your resources.
A little bit of planning can save a lot of money. If you know exactly what you need and why you need it, you can avoid wasting money on superfluous items. It also ensures that you will have enough time to hunt for good deals before you actually need to use the equipment, so you won’t need to take a bad deal due to time constraints. You probably won’t be able to anticipate every problem, so you may need to make a few emergency purchases in spite of your best efforts, but planning as much as possible will make a difference.
Most researchers do not need to buy every piece of gear at the same time. Instead, it is often better to accumulate equipment over time when it becomes necessary for an experiment or when you find a good deal. Spacing out your purchases means that you will not put too much strain on your budget at any one time, and that you will have all the time that you need to track down low prices.
Most laboratory equipment spends most of its time standing idle and waiting for somebody to need it. Many researchers can share centrifuges and other expensive items with their coworkers without running into any problems. When you choose to share it, you should do your best to make the equipment easy for everyone to access, and try to communicate about your plans so that nobody has to compete over the equipment. The coordination is usually simple and rarely involves more than an occasional email, so most people can handle it without any serious inconveniences.
Do It Yourself
Laboratory equipment is expensive, but the cost of labor to install it can also be significant. Fortunately, most researchers acquire a variety of technical skills over the course of their careers. Most scientists can handle basic tasks, such as assembling shelves. Doing it yourself will allow you to eliminate the cost of installing your equipment. You should certainly let the professionals handle any installation where precision is a necessity, but it is reasonable to assemble basic furniture and storage spaces on your own. The key is understanding your limits and only handling the tasks with which you are comfortable.