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5 tips for maximizing your lab space

Not everyone has the luxury of working in a large lab, but lack of space shouldn’t compromise the quality of your work. Here are 5 tips on how to get more space in your lab*. They will help you maximize not only your lab space, but your productivity and flexibility, as well. In this article the focus is on laser labs and microscopy labs.

1. Use DoubleDensity™ for better benchtop surface utilization

Before you choose your next optical table, you should make sure, that the system has enough of the work top surface you need in your lab. But what if you’re short on space and you cannot purchase a huge optical table? Then TMC’s DoubleDensity™ Optical Table is the solution.

The increasing need for miniaturization requires more flexibility in placing optomechanical components on optical tables.

TMC’s DoubleDensity™ unique CleanTop® design combines the smallest cell-size and highest core density in all-steel construction.

Offers twice as many tapped holes as conventional - - 1 in. or 25 mm grids

  • 288 holes per sq ft., 3,200 holes per m2
  • Enables precise location of optical components and reduces space for building systems
  • Twice the number of honeycomb cells (0.50 sq in) as our nearest competitor
  • Core density unchanged, the highest in the industry (13.3 lb per cu ft.)
Double Density construction

The widely renowned professor, Dr. Clara Saraceno, who is leading the Photonics and Ultrafast Laser Science Group at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum, is one of many users of the DoubleDensity™ feature:

"The double hole density makes it easy to clamp larger devices on the table, like the stage for the prisms and the chopper. But we also maintain a great flexibility in the positioning of surrounding optics, since finding new spots to add optics is very simple."

The picture below shows a part of the university’s pulse compression setup for THz detection.

Optical table component setup top down view

photo credit: Ruhr-Universität Bochum

2. Keep your equipment mobile – use tables with casters

Lab tables as well as TMC optical tables come with optional retractable casters. Casters allow users to quickly re-arrange setups in the lab or even move them to a neighboring lab. If not in use, tables can be moved to a “quiet” corner or a local storage room.

CleanBench laboratory table with vibration isolation

TMC’s CleanBench™ lab table with casters

3. Use custom-shape configurations to optimize lab space

TMC optical table systems can be designed as T- shape, L-shape or any other custom joined configuration. This way the tables can be placed in room corners, built around columns and simply allow the lab space to be used most efficiently.

E shaped optical table system

TMC E-shape joined optical table system

4. Think "vertically"

Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of furniture systems for labs: "on-the-floor" and "off-the-floor" systems. After talking about the on-the-floor solutions, which include mainly lab tables, optical tables and cabinets, I have to mention, that there is a big potential in the ,,off-the-floor’’ solutions for space saving.

Like in a crowded city, if your lab is running out of space, start building vertically:

Overhead shelf: Biologists in Neurosciences need to put their amplifiers and other electronic equipment somewhere, so they are looking for compact solutions to achieve short cable length.

An overhead shelf is an ideal storage rack for equipment and instrumentation used in conjunction with an optical table. Spanning the long axis of the table, the overhead shelf is adjustable in height. It is free standing, so the vibration isolation of the table will not be compromised. Optional accessories include a second-tier shelf. The shelf includes two rows of holes on a 2 in. (50 mm) spacing to facilitate mounting of fixtures. Built to the same rugged standards you have come to expect from TMC, the structure is formed steel with a non-resonant design, black powder coat finish, and leveling feet for uneven floors.

Overhead shelf 1 Overhead shelf 2

Overhead shelf provides you with extra storage space

Laser shelves can save valuable working space on the top. The shelf consists of an additional undrilled 2 in. (50 mm) thick breadboard attached to the bottom plate of the table. Though such a support system will not match the performance of direct mounting of equipment to the table's top surface, for less sensitive applications this arrangement can save valuable working space on the top.

Laser shelf

Don’t let wall space be wasted space: Use wall shelves instead of cabinets, where it is possible.

5. Build modular optical systems

Some laser optical setups may be built as modules on smaller breadboards and then be placed on top of larger optical tables. With this concept, the space on the larger optical table is not permanently consumed and the modules can be easily used in different locations or if a module is not required, easily stored away.

TMC 78-series breadboards can be manufactured with breadboard levelers. A leveler consists of a threaded sleeve bonded into the top, a bushing leveler, and a locknut. Breadboard levelers are placed in the corners of the breadboard allow to mount the breadboard on top of the optical table, precisely level it and then lock the position. Below photo shows a 30 x 30 cm example.

Breadboard leveler

Breadboard leveler for 78-series breadboards

As we demonstrated, there are many cost-effective ways to manage limited space without spending money on a bigger lab. Your productivity, efficiency, and well-being are of utmost importance to us, so don’t hesitate to contact us for more details. We‘re happy to support your work with our products and know-how.

This article was published on LinkedIn on 06/15/2018. Link to original.

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