Plastic vs. Glass Beakers: Which Is Better? 

According to long-held conventional wisdom, glass beakers are superior to plastic. In fact, many believe that glass is the only viable choice. That is no longer true, with plastic becoming the standard option for use in drug development. Ultimately, the right material might wholly depend on what you plan to use it for. 

The Benefits of Plastic Beakers

  • It provides a degree of flexibility that makes it non-breakable in most situations. 
  • It is lightweight, which means it is far easier to handle graduated cylinders or large desiccators. 
  • It’s preferred when carrying out trace metal studies because of its non-leaching.
  • Plastic micro-pipette tips and vials are considered disposable. However, many can be properly cleaned and sterilized for continued use. 
  • Inexpensive in comparison to glassware. 

The Benefits of Glass Beakers

  • High clarity for content visibility, and the ability to accurately record volumes. 
  • Reusable once prescribed cleaning has been completed. 
  • A simpler sterilization process. 
  • Sealed containers are impervious to atmospheric gases, thus preventing oxidative degradation of their contents. 
  • It is inert so it isn’t prone to leaching contamination. 
  • You can fabricate glassware in the lab, but you cannot do this with plastic. 
  • There is no risk of breakage when heating a glass beaker using a hot plate. 

The Differences Between Plastic & Glass Beakers

Glassware is easy to break, whether through breakage or incorrect use with hydrofluoric acid. Inorganic ions can leach into aqueous solutions and light exposure can also put contents at risk. Plastic is not useful when dealing with high temperatures or in need of clarity for volume recording. Due to poorly marked graduation lines, plastic can produce inaccurate results. 

While it’s a flexible material that offers durability, it doesn’t have the same physical strength as glass does when it comes to withstanding corrosive materials. There are benefits and drawbacks to all materials and the right option for your use will be wholly dependent on the tasks completed in the business and what type of tests are being completed or materials handled. 

The Uses

In a classroom setting or a start-up lab, plastic is a popular option. It is an effective way to keep a safe environment for new or naive workers. The need for versatile, durable containers is a never-ending search in a variety of settings. Thanks to state-of-the-art resins, plastics are growing in popularity. Appropriate labware should be chosen based on analysis requirements. There are benefits to both options, and knowledge of the different properties will determine which option is right for your environment. 

The right material for you will depend on what functions your business performs, and ultimately, the ability to make an informed decision is what matters most. Moving forward, it is likely that both materials will be in use in settings that rely on beakers to carry out work. 

While plastic can provide you with enhanced shock resistance and elasticity, glass can withstand high and rapidly changing temperatures. The most important thing is that you select high-quality products and stock up on the right type of beaker for your use.

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