A pipette, a lab instrument used to transport a measured volume of liquid, is indispensable in chemistry and molecular biology research and for medical tests. This lab equipment may be semi-automated or operated electrically. Pipettes have a piston that move in a cylinder and work by creating a vacuum above the chamber that holds the liquid and then releasing this vacuum in a selective manner to draw up and distribute the liquid.

VistaLab's Pipette Design

There are several brands of pipettes in the market, but VistaLab’s pipettes are in a class of their own. In fact, Vistalab pipettes are listed as a successful innovation by Jonathan Cagan and Craig M. Vogel in their book ‘Creating Breakthrough Products’. What sets these high-value pipettes apart from others in the market is their ergonomic design. In most pipettes, the piston is in line with the pipette tip, resulting in an awkward angle when the thumb pushes down. Moreover, the operation is hard to control. On the other hand, in fully electronic devices, the liquid distribution is done electronically and not with finger pressure. What VistaLab did was to create a pipette that would overcome these issues by

  • Designing an ergonomic tip with a shape that matched the human anatomy
  • Using electronics to enable the technician to control the adjustable volume instead of allowing the liquid handling process to be fully automated

The result was ‘Ovation Pipette Adjustable Volume‘, the company’s signature product that comes with the following innovative features

  • Contoured shape and adjustable hook which means a custom fit for every user
  • Simple tip acquisition and discard – audible click indicates that the tips are firmly placed and ready for use
  • Light thumb action or minimal effort to operate the plunger and manually control the aspirating and dispensing speed
  • Fast pipetting – the volume can be changed by just turning the plunger
  • PCR and microtubes can be conveniently opened as the cap opener is built into the base of the pipette
  • Simple in-lab calibration

This pipette promotes ergonomically-correct posture during pipetting, including neutral forearm and wrist positions, which allow muscle groups to function freely and in a stress-free manner. In 2001, VistaLab’s pipette design won the Gold Industrial Design Excellence Award for industrial and scientific equipment area by the Industrial Services of America (IDSA) and sponsored by BusinessWeek.

What this unique product design proves is that with laboratory equipment, value no longer means a lot of features for the lowest cost. As Cagen and Vogel point out, breakthrough products are those that offer value which is lifestyle-driven, and address the qualities of a product that make it useful, usable and desirable.