Over the past decade purchasing used lab equipment has become common practice for scientist and lab managers. While purchasing used equipment is a great means of cost savings there are considerations to keep in mind.
Are you purchasing from a reputable seller?
As demand grew for used lab equipment, the market quickly flooded with resellers. Many offer quality products and service, but unfortunately that's not always the case. To avoid a bad experience, the greatest advice I can give is to ask plenty of questions. A good seller should be more than willing to answer within the best of their ability. Secondly test the waters before purchasing a big-ticket item. For example, purchase a magnetic stirrer or pipette rather than an HPLC system. In addition, ask for testimonials from previous customers.
Are they a reseller or a broker?
Avoid brokers by all means necessary! Brokers advertise large inventories of equipment they do not own or stock. Avoiding brokers will speed up delivery and cut cost by 10% or more. A good indicator if a company is a broker or a reseller is the images they use to advertise.
Key Note: Resellers often use OEM pictures to advertise products. Below, on the left you will see GE's image for the GE Ettan IPGphor IEF 3 and on the right is the picture taken in-house by Cheshire Enterprise.
Previous owners of the equipment
Contamination and electrical failures are major concerns with buying used lab equipment. Be sure to ask the seller if they know where the equipment was used and what it was used for. Here at Cheshire Enterprise the majority of our inventory comes from large pharmaceutical auctions and local labs.
Condition of the equipment
Be sure to pay close attention to the condition of the equipment. The condition of used equipment varies greatly from one unit to another. I have seen equipment that is cosmetically unappealing but runs like a champ. With that being said make sure you are purchasing the smooth running equipment you are looking for. Don't be tricked the appealing appearance of a possible non-functioning piece of equipment.
Once you have purchased your used equipment be sure to talk with the seller about packaging and logistics. Lab equipment can be both delicate and heavy. The specific needs of equipment should be considered and packaged appropriately to prevent damages upon arrival.
The goal of this post is to help consumers become comfortable with the used lab equipment market. Buying used equipment is a great sustainable way to improve your lab while staying within your budget. Be sure to contact us with any questions.