The Preventive Care of Centrifuges

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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Proper Use and Care of the Medical Laboratory Centrifuge. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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The Preventive Care of Centrifuges

Yuliya Mikhed, PhD of ThermoFisher stated that “The most common mistake is the irregular cleaning and maintenance of centrifuges.” While an annual preventive maintenance inspection by a trained service technicians highly recommended, operators can do a great deal toward preventing unnecessary repair and replacement costs by conscientiously performing the following routine preventive care:
  • Be sure to disconnect the centrifuge from its power supply before attempting any preventive care procedure.
  • Regularly check the rotor (both fixed and swing-out) plus tube-holders/buckets for signs of mechanical stress (also known as fatigue) by looking for cracks. Centrifugal forces can cause stretching or change in the dimension of the metal thus causing it to crack. Also check for corrosion.
  • Add a small amount of silicon grease to the rotor trunnions after each cleaning. (Figure 1) Metal to metal contact increase friction which causes wear and eventually prevents the holders from swinging out properly resulting in an imbalanced centrifuge. (See Figure 2)
  • Routinely clean the chamber [A] of the centrifuge and the rotor [B], plus the bucket s or tube-holders [C]. (Figure 3) Use only cleaning solutions and sterilization agents that are chemically compatible with the rotor and are recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Never clean the rotor or any of the associated parts of the centrifuge with abrasive materials such as wire brushes.
  • Check the biocontainment lids to make sure that they are clean and the threads are working properly. (Figure 4)
  • Check the centrifuge lid’s locking mechanism for wear or damage.
  • It is imperative that a centrifuge use and maintenance log be kept for high speed and ultracentrifuges. While not as crucial, it is a good practice recommendation that one be kept on low-speed centrifuges as well.
  • Good preventive care also includes constantly remembering to properly balance and never overload the centrifuge before running.