Choose the right Shaker for your laboratory

What is a shaker?

A shaker is a laboratory device, mainly used in chemistry and biology, and its purpose is to mix, blend or agitate substances in a tube or flask. It has a board where flasks, beakers or test tubes can be placed. It shakes or agitates substances and it is suitable for culturing microbes, washing bolts and general mixing.


A magnet bar was invented by Richard H. Stringham in Utah, United States, in October 1917. However, the magnet could react with chemicals in a solution and affect the reaction. In 1944, Arthur Rosinger patented a coated magnetic stirrer bar, chemical inert and by the end of that decade, Edward McLaughlin in Scotland invented a stirrer bar with high speed, called “flea”. In 1949, David and Sigmund Freeman invented the first high demanded shaker called “The New Brunswick Shaker”, still on demand.  Other models were created afterwards, for example, the vortex mixer (vertically oriented) in 1959 and, in the sixties, the first water-bath shaker, incubator shakers, big capacity shakers and the static mixer.

Nowadays, the manufacturing of shaker is still increasing and more efficient mixing devices have been created, integrating other lab processes and more digital functions.

What are the basic parts of a shaker?

There are many different types and models of shakers, but all of them have a motor (vibrating, oscillating or shaking), a vibrating, oscillating or shaking body (the platforms where tubes and flasks are placed), and screen where timer and speed are set.

What types of shakers are available in the market?

There are many different types, the most popular are:

– The Vortex shaker:  It is a small device that shakes along in a platform. It has different speed adjustment that can be changed during the shaking process.

– Platform shaker: It has a table board that oscillates horizontally. The liquids to be stirred are held in beakers, jars, Erlenmeyer;  flasks and test tubes (can be nested into holes in the plate).

– Orbital shaker: It is a low-speed shaker which has a circular shaking motion. It is appropriate for culturing microbes, washing blots, and general mixing. It does not vibrate and it can be placed in an incubator to become an incubator shaker, combining low temperature and vibration.

– Incubator shaker: It is a combination of incubator and shaker. It has an ability to shake while maintaining optimal conditions for incubating microbes or DNA replications. It allows the distribution of oxygen and nutrients around the culture.

How to choose the appropriate shaker?

According to the user’s need, there is a wide variety of shakers. Some aspects to consider in the choice of which shaker to purchase are:

  • Decide if you need vibration and/or tilts.
  • Check the range of speed required.
  • See the container capacity.
  • Check the liquid viscosity the shaker can handle.
  • Be sure the horsepower of the device.
  • Determine if you need to put existing containers or you need the container integrated into the equipment.
  • Determine the functions your lab requires: functions and temperature needed.

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