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Syringe Pumps Explained: Types of Syringe Pump

Syringe pumps, or syringe drivers, are motorised devices that accurately control the movement of a fluid from a syringe by mechanically inserting or retracting the plunger. Syringe pumps feature stepper motors which can accurately move a platform attached to the plunger of a syringe. The body of the syringe is held steady to the body of the unit so that the only movement is from the action of the motor.

Basic models can be used for the infusion (and sometimes withdrawal) of liquids at set rate, controlled simply by changing the speed of the motor. More sophisticated syringe pumps like the Ossila Syringe Pump are equipped with onboard computers which allow the motion of the stepper motor to be programmed with multiple steps to automatically perform a set sequence.

Types of Syringe Pump

There are two main types of syringe pump: those designed for medical use and those designed for use in a lab. Other distinctions can be made based on the features offered by the syringe pump, e.g. whether it is programmable or not, or how many syringes it operates.

Medical vs. laboratory syringe pumps

Medical syringe pumps are approved for use by medical professionals in the in vivo diagnosis, treatment, and care of patients. They are typically used in facilities such as hospitals and care homes, sometimes (but not always) in palliative care, rather than in a research setting. Medical syringe pumps are closely related to infusion pumps, but administer treatment from a syringe rather than an intravenous bag. Compared to infusion pumps, syringe drivers control the flow of much smaller doses of medication.

The degree of precision and amount of control provided by medical syringe pumps is generally less than that provided by scientific syringe pumps. Instead, a typical medical syringe driver comes with drug specific presets and pre-programmed hard and soft limits designed to ensure the safety of the patient. Although they are relatively simple devices in principle, because patient safety is a concern with medical syringe pumps, medical professionals must be trained in their use. The main advantage of a medical syringe pump over the manual use of a syringe is that they can administer medication over a longer period of time at a steady rate.

Laboratory syringe pumps (also referred to as scientific syringe pumps or research syringe pumps) are typically able to move smaller volumes of liquid with greater precision than medical syringe pumps. In addition, they can usually be programmed with more complex routines. Whereas medical syringe pumps are built for very specific predetermined applications, laboratory syringe pumps are designed to be versatile and adaptable. The range of possible applications of a syringe pump in research is vast and covers multiple fields, including thin film fabrication, mass spectrometry, flow chemistry, microfluidics, and more.

Although they are mechanically similar, laboratory syringe pumps such as the Ossila Syringe Pump are not interchangeable with those designed and manufactured specifically for use in vivo.

Single vs. dual syringe pumps

As the name suggests, single syringe pumps are able to control one syringe, while dual syringe pumps can control either one or two syringes depending on the mode of operation. On syringe pumps like the Ossila Syringe Pump, each pump (whether on a single or dual pump model) can be used to either continuously infuse or withdraw a liquid, or provide a pulsed flow.

A single syringe operating in steady and pulsed infusion and extrusion modes

Single Syringe Pump

  • Precise
  • Programmable
  • Multiple Modes of Operation

£1600.00 With Free Shipping

When two syringes are controlled, a wider range of experimental setups can be used. For example, having two syringes allows for the precise mixing of two different solutions, as shown below. This process can allow for accurate control of chemical reactions in processes such as microfluidics and, in addition, could also be used for producing emulsions of two immiscible solutions.

Solution mixing with a dual syringe setup

When combined with equipment such as check valves and solvent reservoirs, dual syringe pumps can be used for continuous pumping of a single solution. Furthermore, syringe pumps like the dual version of the Ossila Syringe Pump allow each pump to be controlled independently of the other. This means that they can be used as a single syringe pump if required or, should the experiment require it, one pump can be set to infuse while the other is in withdrawal mode.

Dual Syringe Pump

  • Highly Versatile
  • With Two Independently Programmable Pumps

£2000.00 With Free Shipping


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Contributing Authors

  • Jon Griffin
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