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Vortex Mixer – Definition, Principle, Parts, Uses

What is a Vortex Mixer? A vortex mixer, sometimes known as a vortexer, is a typical laboratory tool used to mix small...

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This article writter by MN Editors on September 29, 2022

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Vortex Mixer - Definition, Principle, Parts, Uses
Vortex Mixer - Definition, Principle, Parts, Uses

What is a Vortex Mixer?

  • A vortex mixer, sometimes known as a vortexer, is a typical laboratory tool used to mix small vials of liquid.
  • It comprises of an electric motor with the drive shaft orientated vertically and attached to an off-center, cupped rubber component.
  • The rubber piece oscillates rapidly in a circular motion when the motor operates.
  • When a test tube or other suitable container is pressed into or touches the edge of the rubber cup, the motion is transferred to the liquid within and a vortex is generated.
  • The majority of vortex mixers are constructed with two or four plates, variable speed settings ranging from 100 to 3,200 rpm, and the ability to run continuously or just when a rubber piece is pressed downward.
 Vortex Mixer diagram
Vortex Mixer diagram

Principle of Vortex Mixer

  • The vortex mixer’s operating principle is dependent on the motor present in the instruments. The motor’s shaft is attached to the cup head.
  • The electric current supplies the force for the engine’s centrifugal revolution.
  • The rotation of the motor causes the orbit of the shaft, which spins the cup head.
  • When the sample is deposited in the cup head, the spinning generates a robust vortex.
  • The strong vortex aids in the uniform mixing of the samples.
Principle of Vortex Mixer
Principle of Vortex Mixer

Parts of Vortex Mixer

Different components are necessary for the correct operation of a vortex mixer.

  • Well/Cup Head: The rubber cup head is positioned above the motor to assist in holding the sample tubes in place. Since glass test tubes are also employed in vortex mixing, the cup head must be composed of a soft substance, hence rubber is used. The cup head is the component that can be replaced with additional accessories.
  • Motor: It exists directly beneath the cup head. The primary component of the vortex mixer, it rotates in a circular motion. It creates a swirling effect in the liquid for homogenization purposes.
  • Main Switch: Turning on the main switch supplies the vortex mixer with electrical current for operation. So simply, it controls the machines’ power.
  • Speed controller knob: It is a front-mounted knob on the machine. Adjusting the vortex mixer’s rotational speed by turning the knob.
  • Operation controller button: A button that facilitates either direct rotation or rotation while the vials are in contact with the well/cup head.
Parts of Vortex Mixer
Parts of Vortex Mixer

Some additional attachments are available for mixing single or multiple samples by hand and holding the samples before to use. The following are:

  • The platform for tubes: It is the platform that holds tubes of varying sizes for the simultaneous vortexing of various samples. The platform is exclusive to the providers of the vortexer.
  • Single tube holder: It is used to manually vortex a single tube simultaneously. In this case, instead of using one’s hand to hold the tube in place, a tube holder is used.
  • Tube insert: The tube insert is used to hold tubes prior to and following vortexing.

Operating Procedure of Vortex Mixer

  • All control buttons (primary switch, speed control knob, and operation controller button) are located on the instrument’s front panel.
  • The vortex mixer is supplied with electrical power by connecting the cable located on the rear of the device to an electrical source. The primary switch activates the vortexer.
  • Vortexer has two modes of operation. The first is when the motor moves without exerting force to the cup head. Here, the motor begins to operate as soon as the main switch is activated.
  • The second mode consists of the motor’s action when the tubes apply gentle pressure to the cup head. The operation controller button facilitates mode switching.
  • In certain vortexers, the primary switch can change the mode, such as the Labnet VX-200 series’ power switch, which has three settings: on, touch, and off.
  • The touch button facilitates access to the second mode, whilst the on button activates the first mode.
  • The speed knob controls the rotational speed of the motor. Typically, the speed range allowed is 100-3200 rpm.
  • The speed range varies depending on the manufacturer; the speed range for the Cole-Parmer vortex mixer is 0-3400 rpm.

Steps for operating a Vortex Mixer

  • Connect the power cord to the power supply.
  • Then, fasten the accessory of choice to the cup’s head.
  • Select the preferred vortexing mode afterward.
  • Now, activate the primary switch.
  • Select the desired speed by rotating the knob on the speed controller.
  • If the pressed-down approach is employed, the holder must be pressed properly for vortexing.
  • Once the vortexing is complete, reduce the speed to its minimum setting.
  • Turn off the main power switch.

Difference Between Vortex Mixer and Centrifuge

  • Although both the vortex mixer and centrifuge utilise centrifugal force, the vortex mixer is more efficient. These have numerous distinctions, which include the following:
  • Using various attachments, the vortex mixer is able to accommodate both single and numerous samples. Centrifugation is mostly applicable to several samples of varying volumes.
  • The vortex mixer can often be used to combine liquids. In contrast, centrifuge is more typically used to separate distinct fluid components.
  • The vortexer is compact and fits on a laboratory benchtop. However, the centrifuge is somewhat larger.
  • The operation time of a centrifuge is longer than that of a vortex mixer.
  • The centrifugal force generated by the vortex mixer is less than that of the centrifuge.
  • Using a vortex mixer, the movement happens within the tube’s contents, while the tube remains stationary and the rotor moves.
  • The vortexer is incapable of regulating the temperature of the sample. Typically, when operating a centrifuge, the temperature of the sample can be regulated.
  • The vortexer’s rotational speed is adjustable between 100 and 3200 rpm. Whereas the available range for the centrifuge’s rotational speed is 300-15,000 rpm.

Precautions for Vortex Mixer

  • Protect your hands and eyes while operating the instruments.
  • Avoid employing combustible materials.
  • Use a sealed container for shaking hazardous substances.
  • Before using, ensure that the cup head is properly attached.
  • Repair and maintenance of the instruments must be performed promptly.

Types of Vortex Mixer

Based on technology, speed variation, and size, the vortex mixer has been subdivided into numerous varieties. Several types are described below:

Types of Vortex Mixer
Types of Vortex Mixer
  • Variable speed: There is a speed controller available for the vortex mixer, and the speed range is 100-3200 rpm. In addition, it supports touch and continuous modes. With the use of attachments, it is possible to vortex multiple tubes at once.
    • Analog vortex mixer: To adjust the speed, turn the knobs from right to left. Continuous mixing is possible when using accessories or by touching or pressing down on the cup header.
    • Digital vortexer: Variable speed that can be adjusted by touchpad. The LED display indicates the actual speed. In addition to time (minutes/seconds). Two operation modes (constant accessory operation and touch mode when using the cup head) are available. Timer and speed addition capabilities are also offered.
  • Heavy-Duty Vortex Mixers: The Digital Heavy-Duty Vortex Mixer is ideally suited for applications that require consistent outcomes. The LED displays and touchpad controls on the mixer provide precise speed (rpm) and timing (minutes and seconds) readings. The mixer’s durable construction and powerful motor allow it to function continuously and handle all accessories across the whole speed range. Choose between two modes of operation: “Touch” mode for mixing tubes when the cup head or Universal Holder with cover is depressed, and “On” mode for continuous operation while using any accessory attachment. Controlled by a microprocessor to maintain the selected speed for powerful, consistent mixing. The timer will display the elapsed time or, if programmed to user-defined time limitations, will shut off when the timer reaches zero.
  • Fixed Speed: The velocity range is unavailable. The machine functions at a rapid tempo; the touch-down mode is the sole appropriate mode. The cup head accessory is exclusive to this particular type of vortexer.  
  • Mini vortexer: These are helpful for vortexing small sample quantities (0.2-50ml). It is accessible in both analogue and digital formats. Both modes of functioning are available, depending on the accessories utilised. 
  • Multi-Tube Vortex Mixers: Process up to fifty samples simultaneously. Operation that is either continuous or timed. Contains a foam rack for 12 mm tubes. The housing’s one-piece, stainless steel construction maximises cleanliness. Ideal for situations requiring precision and consistency. The one-piece housing design made of stainless steel is beneficial to keeping your vortexer clean and clear of pollutants.
  • Pulsing vortex mixer: Similar to mechanical bead mill homogenizers, these include glass beads for cell destruction. The pulsating movement lowers heat output during mixing. The touch, as well as the continuous mode, are available in this type of vortex with both analogue and digital technology. 
  • Microplate Vortex Mixer: These are intended for use in microplate mixing. There is only one mode of operation accessible, which is continuous. This type of vortexer supports both digital and analogue configurations.

Uses of Vortex Mixer

  • In most laboratories, vortexing aids in the homogeneous mixing of substances. The mixing time is shorter compared to other mixing methods.
  • Mixing samples with reagents and buffer is an essential step in the analysis of proteins and enzymes. Consequently, a vortex mixer facilitates homogenous mixing during analysis.
  • The vortexer is utilised for homogeneous sample mixing with extraction buffer during DNA extraction. This approach aids in cell disruption as well.
  • During tissue analysis and cell culture, the vortexer can be used to create suspensions of cell or tissue samples.

Limitation of Vortex Mixer

Although a vortex mixer can be used to homogenise liquid samples, it has numerous drawbacks. These include:

  • It cannot be used for mixing solids with liquids or solids with solids.
  • If the tube is not held correctly, there is a chance of spilling.
  • The touch approach is the most effective way to operate the vortexer, which can get monotonous with repeated use.

References

  • https://www.gilson.com/pub/media/docs/VORTEX_UG_LT318403-01.pdf
  • https://www.tillquist.se/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Vortex-Mixers-Data-Sheet_AP_EN_Tillquist.pdf
  • https://www.labnetinternational.com/sites/www.labnetinternational.com/files/product-documents/RY%20929929%20Vortex%20Mixer%20S0200.pdf
  • https://www.fishersci.com/content/dam/fishersci/en_US/documents/programs/scientific/brochures-and-catalogs/catalogs/fisher-scientific-vortex-mixer-catalog.pdf
  • https://camblab.info/what-does-a-vortex-mixer-do/
  • https://ijrat.org/downloads/Vol-6/dec-2018/Paper%20ID-612201848.pdf
  • https://microbeonline.com/vortex-mixer-principle-types-and-uses/
  • https://www.mrclab.com/vortex
  • https://www.azom.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=17282#:~:text=Vortex%20mixers%20are%20one%20of,with%20high%20degrees%20of%20precision.
  • file:///C:/Users/Soura/Downloads/Documents/Beverage_Vortex-Mixer-E.pdf
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Microbiology Notes is an educational niche blog related to microbiology (bacteriology, virology, parasitology, mycology, immunology, molecular biology, biochemistry, etc.) and different branches of biology.

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