Laboratory Shakers Information

Benchtop open air platform shaker for use with interchangeable platforms, clamps, and test tubes Laboratory shakers and rotators are used to blend or agitate samples within flasks or tubes. These devices consist of a housing containing the motor and control panels, upon which an agitation platform is attached. The platform may have simple grooves for supporting flasks and tubes horizontally as the device moves, or it may have basket style holders that keep the sample holders upright.

Unlike laboratory mixers, which tend to shred or damage constituent sample materials, laboratory shakers generally leave sample material intact, although mixed. Many laboratory shakers are available with some form of temperature control to incubate, foster or retard reactions, or to maintain stasis.


There are many styles of laboratory shakers available, categorized by their manner of shaking motion. While this list is not all-inclusive, it does cover the most common styles. These are reciprocating, rocking, rolling, rotating, orbital, and wrist action.

  • Reciprocating motion devices move alternately backward and forward.
  • Rocking motion devices are capable of a rocking or seesaw motion.
  • Rolling devices slide from side to side with a slight upward, then downward tilt.
  • Rotating shakers turn about an axis and function similarly to centrifuges, although they do not reach the same speeds.
  • Orbital shakers are the most common variety of laboratory shakers. They create an orbital (horizontal circular) shaking motion sufficient for mixing liquids in flasks and conducive to culturing cells. Most incubator style shakers are of this design.
  • Wrist or hand motion laboratory shakers duplicate the swirling motion of hand mixing. Instead of cradling flasks or tubes within the agitation platform, these devices have long arms attached to the housing, which swing and swirl when the device is turned on.

Some styles of agitation are better used for specific experimentation or research results. When in doubt, check with the manufacturer as to which of the laboratory shakers would be best for the given application.

Image Credit:

Eppendorf, Inc.