Fifty Years of Scientific Research Equipment

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 Fifty Years of Scientific Research Equipment

Plas-Labs, Inc. (Lansing, MI) was founded by Mr. David Regan in 1967. The company initially sold plastic sheet, rod, and tube to the local public, universities, and research laboratories. It did not take long for Regan to realize that he needed a product line in order to grow the business. Some of the first products manufactured included lab chambers, desiccators, and animal-care products. These basic lab products are still manufactured and utilized by the top educational institutions, pharmaceutical companies, government, and private research labs in the world.

From these basic products, a wider, more robust product line of scientific research equipment was built and developed. Some of these products include glove boxes, gnotobiotic isolators, anaerobic chambers, poultry isolators, and powder handling glove boxes.

Glove boxes used for moon rocks and lunar samples

After the successful Apollo 11 mission, lunar samples were transported to the Lunar Receiving Laboratory at NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston.1 Glove boxes were used to protect the moon rocks from contamination. The moon rocks were stored in a positive-pressure, nitrogen-filled glove box. This positive pressure isolated the moon rocks from the surrounding environment.

Gnotobiotic isolators

Gnotobiotic isolators are used to store and house germ-free colonies of plants and animals. “Gnotobiotics is the study of organisms or environmental conditions that have been rendered free of bacteria or contamination into which a known microorganism or contaminant has been introduced for research purposes.”2 These isolators are equipped with HEPA filters, positive-pressure air handling systems, glove ports, and sterilizable transfer chambers or “dunk tanks.” A dunk tank is a vessel filled with a disinfectant solution that is used for rapid transfer in and out of the isolator.

Anaerobic chambers

Anaerobic chambers are used in microbiology, chemistry, dental, pharmaceutical, and environmental laboratories to study oxygen-sensitive organisms. The anaerobic chamber glove box uses a palladium catalyst in conjunction with a nitrogen/hydrogen gas mix to reduce any oxygen to a water vapor. Anaerobic organisms are cultured, grown, and researched inside the anaerobic chamber.

In 2007, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) launched the Human Microbiome Project. A research initiative was undertaken “to improve understanding of the microbial flora involved in human health and disease.”3 The Plas-Labs Anaerobic Chamber has been widely utilized to conduct research involving this very important initiative.

Poultry isolators

Poultry isolators are used to either contain or isolate poultry from the outside world. These isolators are equipped with inlet and exhaust HEPA or ULPA filters, air handling systems, automatic watering, temperature control, feed chutes, perches, and metabolism (waste) pans. Researchers can access and transfer the fowl through optional factory-mounted glove ports and transfer chambers.

Positive-pressure poultry isolators are used to rear chicks to maturity in a germ-free environment, while negative-pressure units are utilized in biocontainment research such as Newcastle disease, avian influenza, and Marek’s disease.

Powder handling glove box

The Plas-Labs Powder Handling Glove Box was designed and developed to contain cytotoxic active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). It utilizes continual recirculation of the glove box atmosphere through supply and exhaust HEPA or ULPA filters while maintaining a slight negative pressure (containment) on the main chamber of the glove box. In addition, electromagnetic door interlocks are included to prevent accidental breach of containment, and bag in/bag out (BIBO) or rapid transfer ports (RTPs) can be installed to safely transfer material in and out of the glove box. This physical containment device has been third-party-tested to verify operational exposure limits (OELs) less than 1 ng/m3.

In addition to its standard product line, Plas-Labs offers complete turnkey custom fabrication services to suit individual researcher’s needs. For more information, visit



Mike Regan is president, Plas-Labs, Inc., 401 E. North St. #1, Lansing, MI 48906, U.S.A.; tel.: 517-853-0927; e-mail: [email protected];

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