Volume 3 | Issue 6 | Year 2000

In the late 1800s, science and its wonders were just beginning to open up new fields of human exploration. At the forefront of this new and exciting research was a company that still supplies chemists and biologists worldwide to help their ever-advancing scientific discoveries.

The company is Barnstead/Thermolyne, based in Dubuque, Iowa. A producer of research and laboratory products, the Barnstead part of the company was founded in 1878 by Robert Barnstead, who manufactured steam stills (the process of turning water to steam and then recondensing it to leave the impurities behind) and sterilizers. Barnstead’s first customer was Massachusetts General Hospital.

Thermolyne began in the 1930s in Chicago, but was moved to Dubuque in 1942. At that time the company produced only one product – a dental inlay furnace – and ownership passed from the dentist to Dubuque entrepreneurs Paul Dale and Cliff Ecklund. Since 1985, Barnstead/ Thermolyne has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Sybron International Corporation.

Says John Stork, vice president of marketing and international sales, 7 percent of what Barnstead/ Thermolyne produces goes toward medical use; 80 percent is manufactured for laboratory research.

As in many manufacturing fields, changes in research – particularly in the need for smaller, more compact and more multifunctional equipment – have precipitated changes in the design and manufacture of the products offered by Barnstead/Thermolyne.

Riding the Biotech Wave
“When we first started, the number of labs worldwide was 120,000. We have well over 200,000 labs today and new biotech companies starting up all the time,” says Stork, commenting on the high number of people branching off from universities or other companies to start their own specialized research laboratories.

“Because of the growth in life science research, demand for more sophisticated lab equipment has shown substantial growth,” Stork adds. “Labs today have become extremely crowded places. Compact products that are multifunctional are needed to serve chemists and biologists.” While research used to be along the lines of scientists formulating chemicals or growing viruses/bacteria, tests today exhibit the advances in faster computers and computer software. Many chemical and biological simulations are run on a computer before a single chemical or piece of equipment is used.

Barnstead/Thermolyne produces equipment for the life sciences, drug discovery and combinatorial chemistry, as well as for biotechnology. Combinatorial chemistry concentrates on the ability to simultaneously model different molecular structures in one experiment. This allows for greater amounts of information to be obtained with fewer experiments. Biotechnology is the use of many disciplines (chemistry, biology and engineering) that concentrate on finding cures for diseases like cancer and AIDS, and improving the health of mankind. A typical application in biotechnology and the use of the company’s equipment is the research currently being conducted on the Human Genome Project.

To help support science into the 21st century, Barnstead/Thermolyne has 350,000 square feet of manufacturing space in three facilities across two continents. The company has re-invented its product development process to meet the continued demands in the ever-changing world of cell biology, chemistry and genomic research. It is imperative that the company develop products that help its customers perform their jobs faster and more accurately.

As Pure as It Gets
Barnstead/Thermolyne’s most recent launch in 2000 is the ultrapure de-ionization unit called the NANOpure® DIamond™. This product fits easily on the lab bench and purifies water to 18.2 megohms per centimeter, which is as pure ionically as water can get. “We couple that with ultraviolet oxidation as a way of blasting other organic impurities out of the water,” Stork says.

Organic impurities are broken down into their smallest parts, where they cannot be detected in greater than five parts per billion. This water-purifying system features a multilanguage display and is specifically designed to operate anywhere in the world. It has an automatic sanitation cycle and can maintain water quality during extended periods of non-use. It delivers bacterial and particle-free water to the scientist with the use of a 0.2 micron absolute final filter. “We do not want the water to negatively influence the results of the scientists’ research,” Stork says.

The DIamond™ is the most complete water system on the market today and includes the latest advances in ion exchange and filtration technologies, as well as the newest technologies for ultraviolet oxidation and ultrafiltration. It performs so well that it can remove even the most basic genetic material from water – Rnase and Dnase – further increasing the reliability of genomic research.

Barnstead/Thermolyne’s vast line of recently introduced products also includes the Thermolyne drop-down door furnace, with a unique fold-down door enabling customers to use the door as a shelf, thus keeping hot surfaces away from the user. This product has a built-in venting system to reduce contaminants from entering the research lab. Another product, the Harvey Sterile PV sterilizer, offers closed-door drying, large chamber and compact size, and a pre- and post-vacuum system. This sterilizer reduces the opportunity for instruments to become recontaminated since they come out of the unit dry, not wet.

Versatility as a Science
Other new products include the Lab-Line multitube rotator, which allows operators to add up to three additional platforms, increasing the throughput of the instrument. It has an adjustable speed and angle of rocking plus stainless steel construction. Barnstead/Thermolyne’s new Platform Plus shaker is lightweight and simple to use, offering bi-directional rotation and a 30 revolutions-per-minute shaker speed. The Turner Quantech™ filter fluorometer stores up to nine multipoint standard curves. It offers easy-to-use, menu-driven software and automatically sets gain and range for optimal sensitivity. The Mel-Temp 3.0 melting point comes in a compact size that saves bench space and has an audible-visual alarm indicating when the oven temperature is stable. This machine also has selectable ramp rates and a high-speed fan that cools the unit quickly. Finally, the electrothermal metal case heating mantle offers aluminum housing which makes it rugged, chemical-resistant and easy to clean. The Electrothermal mantle comes in five different varieties and also has replaceable heating cartridges.

In addition to these new products, Barnstead/Thermolyne offers a full-line catalogue of laboratory products that range from refrigerator/freezers, stirrers, de-ionization systems, filtration products, reverse osmosis, mixers and shaker, incubators, hot plates, furnaces and environmental chambers, Dri-Baths, dispensers, dilutors and cryogenics systems.

Barnstead/Thermolyne is capable of providing most of the key laboratory equipment required by today’s modern day chemical and biotechnology laboratories.

Whatever the need, Barnstead/ Thermolyne has it. As one of the world’s most experienced designers and manufacturers of research and industrial laboratory products, Barnstead/Thermolyne has consistently developed products that perform beyond its customers’ expectations – and is poised to help research laboratories meet their goals well into the 21st century.

Previous articleTrend-ing Up
Next articleAn Air Of Quality