Let's talk about lab water
Let's talk about lab water
“The possibilities for innovation are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for innovative design. But innovative design always develops in tandem with innovative technology, and can never be an end in itself.”
Trusted Water Purification Technologies
We’d like to think that PURELAB Chorus is a truly innovative product, but let’s delve a little deeper into some of the technologies. We have known how to purify water to different levels of (type I+ water, ultrapure water, to type III water) for many years now, and no new technology has emerged to significantly change this process. We still rely on our trusty allies reverse osmosis, filtration, deionisation and ultraviolet light and they still do the job of removing particles large and small, ions and bacteria to purify water (check out our infographic for more). While there’s little new in the processes used to purify the water here, there have been several other developments outside of laboratory water purification which have found their way into our newer products.
Improvements in Water Purification Technology
New materials have enabled the design of more flexible water dispense guns, a huge difference from the rigid plastics used on some older lab water systems. Improvements in injection moulding have enabled us to use fewer pipework connections and new plastics have enabled smooth inner surfaces on water tanks, both of which give bacteria fewer places to hide while also improving the mixing of pure water in the system. Touch technology has led to more control over the flow rate of lab water; improved display technology and haptic feedback have allowed better feedback of information while dispensing ultrapure water. These features were all frequently requested during our customer research phases and greatly improve the user’s interactions with our labwater systems.
PURELAB Chorus Provides Much Needed Flexibility
While these are great examples of taking new technologies and using them to improve a product, the real innovation is a radical change in the way the humble laboratory water purification system is configured. PURELAB Chorus is a big departure from a box containing the aforementioned trusty allies attached to a tank and a tap.
The modular nature of the PURELAB Chorus, a first in water purification, allows separate parts of a system (tanks, units and dispensers) to be combined or positioned independently.
This means the PURELAB Chorus:
It also means that the customer can configure a system to their exact requirement and provides for future changes.
The chassis, with its requirement to load-bear high volumes of water and fit multiple components, needed extensive engineering design. Smart link technology was developed, allowing the system to work together whether elements are combined or positioned independently.
So as you can see there are new technologies that have led to an improvement in the way we approach our product designs, but the innovation comes from applying these with an entirely new approach.
“A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy certain criteria, not only functional but also psychological and aesthetic. Good design emphasizes the usefulness of a product while disregarding anything that could possibly detract from it.”
PURELAB Chorus Is Accessible and Easy
Two central doors open to offer easy access to the essential “innards” of the PURELAB Chorus while consumables can be removed quickly and easily using only one hand leaving you free to titrate with the other (We don’t suggest you try this in your lab – but if you do make sure you are also hula hooping – it’s much more fun that way)! The design has been considered to make sure that consumables are easy to change meaning less time spent maintaining the unit and more time using it to help scientists perform experiments.
The PURELAB Chorus concept has enabled choice to configure a solution to suit multiple laboratory applications, spaces and budgets. As such you only have to choose the elements of the product that you will find useful for your laboratory. By calculating the feed water quality and flow rates, assessing the desired water quality and which impurities need to be removed for the intended applications only the essential elements need to be selected. For example a flexible halo dispenser could be invaluable for one person, while another may be happy with the dispenser in a fixed position on the unit or on the wall.
The modular nature of PURELAB Chorus means that individual elements can be positioned where they will be of most use in the lab. For example a tank fed by a Chorus 2 or 3 could be installed close to a sink to provide water for glassware washing, while the Chorus 1 and dispense could be positioned on a bench to provide type I ultrapure water for more critical applications.
“Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user’s self-expression.”
Did You Know That PURELAB Chorus Was Invisible?
Well ok not quite… but you can place the various elements of the lab water system where you like so that only the Halo dispensers are on display. The Chorus units and tanks can be placed under a bench or on the wall, or even in a different room. Pretty Nifty if you’re short on bench space!
Classic Design Elements
The PURELAB Chorus offers a simple architectural form broken by a pure white light that reflects the purity of the water it is producing. The display on the PURELAB Chorus 2 and PURELAB Chorus 3 gives a clear indication of water quality without aggressively interrupting scientists at work while the slim, iconic halo dispensers provide subtle light to indicate the status of the system.
“The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products are used every day and have an effect on people and their well-being. Only well-executed objects can be beautiful.”
A Thing of Beauty?
We wouldn’t be so arrogant as to call our own design beautiful but we certainly think it looks great in the lab. It’s a departure from square boxes and sharp lines to flowing curves and subtle glowing lights. The colours and materials used have been chosen to blend in with the laboratory environment to ensure that it does not detract from the work of scientists, but enhances their environment.
“It clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product clearly express its function by making use of the user’s intuition. At best it is self-explanatory.”
What Does Purity Mean to You?
Water purity is an often misunderstood element of scientific research. If you want to find out more you can check out our blog series on the “unsung hero of the lab”. Different applications need different levels of water purity. Feedback we received told us that for less critical applications the exact purity of the water is often not important, as long as it falls within the acceptable range for the specific application or experiment.
PURELAB Chorus 2 and 3 have a visual alarm which can be set to the user’s specification meaning that it will glow white when the system is running correctly, but red when the water quality drops below the desired level. PURELAB Chorus 1, which is used for more critical applications has the same visual indication, but when a halo dispenser is connected to the system it will display the exact water purity at the point of dispense. The halo itself will also glow to indicate the system’s status. Anyone can see the status of the system (even when stood across the lab) without necessarily having to understand the detail of the water quality.
An Angelic Dispensing Solution
The Halo provides control of the unit and gives easy to understand information on the screen including water purity at the point of dispense and TOC levels. It will also display the status of any other Chorus unit which is connected via a smart link cable. As well as providing valuable information to the scientist in the lab, the Halo is also easy to operate. The touch surface has only five buttons. Auto volume dispense (only available on flexible and advanced versions), two menu navigation buttons with a select button and finally the variable flow dispense button. Each function is clearly labelled and navigation of the menu system is simple.
“It does not make a product more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.”
The PURELAB Chorus has been designed to provide ultrapure water for the laboratory environment. It will not make your morning coffee but it will give you consistent, accurate pure water to use in your experiments. The aesthetic design and materials used to manufacture our products has moved on significantly in recent years, but the quality of components and ensuring that it does what it was designed to do well are still of the utmost importance.
“It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years – even in today’s throwaway society.”
In its latest iteration, the aesthetic design of PURELAB range (PURELAB Chorus) has made a radical departure from existing and older products. These have stood the test of time, so why did we decide to change the product at all?
The PURELAB range has been around for a very long time. In fact the PURELAB UHQ was launched nearly 30 years ago and we still see it in laboratories even now! While it doesn’t look out of place, there is no doubt that the technologies and materials available to us have significantly moved on. It would be remiss for us not to take advantage of these innovations in our latest products and to improve on the form factor and usability of the systems while we’re at it.
“Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the consumer.”
PURELAB Chorus may appear to be a complex product, but it can be as simple or as complex as needed. The elements can be configured in a number of different ways depending on the requirements of the laboratory. Because the units, tanks and dispensers can be positioned or connected in different ways, there are considerations to be made for each installation. The number of power supplies, types of connection and installation kits can be different for any given scenario. This means we have had to rethink not only the product design itself, but also the detail of how we configure and supply systems making it a much more bespoke product.
When is a tank more than a tank?
Elements of the entire system have been refined based on our previous experience to ensure we are giving you the best quality water. If we take the tank for example, it’s probably the simplest part of the system right? Well yes and no. The tank has been considered from the outset of the Chorus project, it contains many small improvements that all add up to be an impressive place to store your ultrapure water.
There are strainers on all of the outlets, so even if someone happens to drop their sandwich in the tank (yes we all know it can happen) you won’t find any salami in your dispensed water. The mixing of water has been improved by the addition of up risers, meaning a better laminar flow inside the tank which inhibits biofilm build up. There are no corners for bacteria to hide out causing potential problems with your water quality. The position of the outlets and the shape of the tank mean that all of the water in the tank is usable and it can be completely drained for cleaning (or removal of sandwiches and other debris)! The tank also has a display so you can always see how much water you have left to dispense.
“Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimizes physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product.”
Waste Not Want Not
As an ISO14001 accredited manufacturer, we have considered the environment in our selection of materials, manufacturing processes and which items are shipped with each product. As mentioned above we only ship the power supply required for a given bespoke configuration, and we only send the correct power supply for the country the product is destined for, avoiding items being disposed of unnecessarily. Our PureSure® deionisation cartridges make sure you use all the resin available to you before exchanging the cartridge for another. This not only protects the environment but saves you money.
During water purification some water will always go to the drain. To deal with this we have also developed a high recovery kit to which recovers some of the water ensuring that waste is kept to a minimum. When a typical laboratory can use 35 million liters of water a year, every drop counts!
Another accessory helping to alleviate wastage is the degasser module which can help extend the life of consumables in those laboratories with high levels of CO2 in their feed water, again helping both the environment and your research budget.
“Less, but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity.”
Detailed Design but Rational Choices
The PURELAB Chorus has been carefully designed from an aesthetic perspective. Curves and flowing lines combined with subtle glowing lights and picked out colours combine to make an attractive product. Ultimately the design must be practical as well as aesthetically pleasing and without frivolous extras.
The modular nature of the product means that the choice is with the laboratory. If the application demands additional dispense points, higher or lower quality of water, increased capacity for peak delivery then the system is adaptable to specifically meet those needs. There is also the possibility to expand the product.
In the product design itself we have focused on the items essential to the laboratory technician. Simple dispensing, water quality, user interaction, space saving footprint, robustness and a modular design were the key factors in product design choices.
We hope that our products continue to uphold the principles of design that Dieter Rams outlined.