A more precise measuring tool required for scientific and medical purposes may call for the use of analytical balances. When dealing with potentially dangerous and life threatening situations common in these fields, precise measurements can mean the difference between a resounding success and catastrophic failure, both within the laboratory or operating room. This is amplified even more so when a lab experiment or medical operation is put to the test in an everyday environment.
An analytical balance can have its share of trials and uses, such as in the scientific and medical fields mentioned above, in addition to other fields of study such as culinary science or industrial work. Any form of work which requires the precise measurement of different kinds of chemicals, materials, substances and other sensitive items may require the use of analytical balances, along with the necessary maintenance and care of any precision machine.Using an Analytical Balance
Analytical balances are used on different laboratory substances to help determine the mass with great precision and accuracy. Analytical balances are also capable of weighing lab samples all the way down to micro quantities. These lab samples contained within the analytical balance are enclosed in a transparent weighing chamber, which also protects the substance from tampering when placed on the scale, as well as preventing air currents in the room from affect the operation of the balance.
Precise readings are achieved through the maintenance of a constant load on the balance beam, where the mass is subtracted on the same side of the beam on which the sample substance is added. The final balance measurement is achieved through the use of a small spring force instead of the subtracted fixed masses.
A sample to be weighed inside any analytical balances should be handled with great care at all times. Room temperature should be maintained with both the balance and the sample before the weighing process begins. A deviation from room temperature may cause the formation of air currents to disrupt the sample inside the analytical balance. Differences in temperature can also decrease the precision and accuracy of the analytical balance.
As a precision instrument, an analytical balance needs to be calibrated every time before a sample is weighed. Newer analytical balances may have an auto calibration feature which only requires a short cool down time in order to acclimatise to the environmental conditions present in the current lab setting when switched on. An analytical balance may have standard masses used in the automatic calibration process.
Once the analytical balance is calibrated, do not place additional weight or object on the same lab table on which the analytical balance itself resides. This may also cause ill effects to the accuracy of the weighing process. The scale should also be operated at a comfortable distance. Take special care not to accidentally bump or tamper with the scale during weighing, as you will have to repeat the entire weighing process from the beginning.
Depending on the samples which are to be weighed. Powders, granules and liquids should not be transferred directly onto the weighing pan; granular or powder like materials must be placed on the scale using a piece of paper. Liquids may have to be transferred onto the weighing platform through the use of a spatula which pours the substance into the analytical scale. Hygroscopic substances which absorb moisture the moment they are exposed to air must be weighed quickly as possible for accurate and precise results. It also goes without saying that toxic or flammable substances need to be handled very carefully when placed into the scale.
A substance weighed on analytical balances of any kind may have to be tared after being weighed on the scale in order to disregard the added weight of the container or vessel which the substance is contained in. Some analytical scales may simply have a tare button on the balance itself, while others may not, requiring the use of manual calculation. This option present on some analytical balances allows the balance to negate the extra weight of the container or vessel counted in during the weighing process. The tare process requires that the doors of the weighing chamber are closed in order for correct and precise data.
Maintenance of an Analytical Balance
Every precision instrument needs periodical maintenance to operate at peak performance and efficiency. Analytical balances are no different from this rule. Be sure to exercise proper care and maintenance on analytical balances to ensure a high degree of accuracy during every weighing session.
The weighing chamber must be free of dust particles at all times, even when not in use. The slightest hint of dirt may set your weighing results off by small quantities, as most analytical balances are particularly sensitive instruments. Be sure to always keep the doors of the weighing chamber closed at all times, so that dust and other particles may not enter the weighing chamber.
Take special care to clean the weighing pan or platform regularly in order to ensure accurate measurement results which are not affected by dust and dirt particles. Also be sure not to touch the weighing platform without sterilized gloves in order not to leave fingerprints or grime accumulated on your fingers. These seemingly insignificant particles may also set the course of the weighing process off by more than you would be comfortable with. A soft cloth or a sterilized brush can be used to clean typical analytical balances.