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Why Is There a Shortage of Pipette Tips?

Posted on March 28, 2022 by Pipette Tip 
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Lab-supply Shortages Strike Amid Global Pandemic

Scientific labs worldwide struggle to find enough sterile gloves and other basics as supply and manufacturing chains break down. How bioanalysis was crippled at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic is described but how innovative and highly collaborative efforts across teams within and outside of both pharma, bioanalytical labs and regulatory agencies worked together remarkably well. The COVID-19 pandemic challenged pharmaceutical and bioanalytical communities at large, in the development of vaccines and therapeutics. In sum, it is likely that different industries will experience both shortages and over-supply problems throughout 2022. A longer-term issue is to what extent supply chains change.

A Shortage of Plastic Pipette Tips Is Delaying Biology Research

Now, a similar crisis is affecting scientists in the lab: a shortage of disposable, sterile plastic products, especially pipette tips, Sally Herships and David Gura report for NPR's The Indicator. Pipette tips are a vital tool for moving specific quantities of liquid around in the lab. Scientists use hundreds of pipette tips on any given day in their labs. In December 2020, the Food and Drug Administration announced that pipette tips are on the 'Device Shortage List,' confirming what many scientists already knew: there was a debilitating supply chain problem in the life sciences industry. Shortages of gloves, plastic tips for pipettes, centrifuge tubes and other laboratory basics have caused projects to slow down or even stop, but researchers are adapting.

Science! Global Shortage Threatens Research 


Scientists who use pipettes in a wide array of disciplines, including for medicine research and blood testing, are facing a global pipette tip shortage. The pipette supply chain failure is partly blamed on the pandemic. Scientists across the spectrum — at universities, at public health labs, at biotechs — are facing a global shortage of pipette tips that threatens to upend their work. Adding insult to that injury: Many of them don’t actually understand their distributors’ process for determining which orders will be filled first, or how much of their order they’ll actually get.

Why is There a Pipette Tip Shortage?

In addition to the struggles faced throughout the COVID pandemic, labs now find themselves with yet another challenge - shortage of essential labware. Users of handheld pipettes and automated liquid handlers may need to find another vendor or source of tips. The thermoplastic polymer is used to manufacture plastic pipette tips, which meant the severe weather caused significant and ongoing supply shortages. Scientists forced to improvise In response to the pipette tip shortage, scientists have been forced to improvise and come up with their own solutions. The shortage of pipette tips has meant that scientists have to come up with their own day-to-day solutions.

Strategies for Lab Plastic Shortage


Labs hunt for solutions to staffing, plastics, and blood supply shortages. Two comments that describe where some states were on Dec. 7 when Compass Group members met for their monthly call on COVID-19 and more—and this was before omicron spread in the United States. Investments in circular technologies like feedstock recycling, improving the infrastructure and environmental viability of existing techniques could be the key to dealing with the plastic waste fluxes during such a crisis. Pragmatic strategies will be outlined to reduce the risk of material supply chain shortages. Such strategies are key to effective and efficient product commercialization.

NYTimes: Shortage of Pipette Tips

The NYTimes reported labs across the country are dealing with a shortage of pipette tips. In addition to the struggles faced throughout the COVID pandemic, labs now find themselves with yet another challenge - shortage of essential labware. Users of handheld pipettes and automated liquid handlers may need to find another vendor or source of tips. Labs across the country are facing shortages of pipette tips (such as Hamilton Tips ), which are needed to quickly and precisely move liquid between vials during the COVID-19 testing process. These new shortages of pipette tips and other lab supplies are once again stymieing efforts to track and curb the spread of disease. 


FAQ of Pipette Tips

What is the physics behind how a pipette bulb works?

In the lab I use pipets to measure (mostly glass) and transfer (glass or plastic) liquids. The way I figure it, they work because of the air pressure at the tip of the pipette counteracts the pressure from the weight of the liquid column and the air sealed in the space between the finger and the liquid surface.

What is it like to run PCR?


Pretty awesome if you think strange things and small victories are awesome. My routine usually goes: make the mastermix by adding primers and water, pipette the DNA in, repeat 50 times or so while changing pipette tips every single time to avoid contamination, then throwing the result in a thermocycler for a while to see if it will amplify. Nowdays we have RT-PCR machines that can automatically see if things worked right for us, so we no longer have to run gels unless we really want to! 

What are gloves used for in a laboratory?


These are often used as disposable gloves and are ideal for protecting against incidental contact against biological or water-based hazards. Wear gloves protect against skin absorption of chemicals, chemical burns, thermal burns, lacerations, and cryogenic liquid exposure. Choosing the appropriate hand protection can be a challenge in a laboratory setting.

What advantages do ter sites confer?


Allowing transcription:- It is a well known fact that prokaryotes (E Coli) start transcribing the DNA along with its replication. What the ter sites essentially do is it makes sure that both the replication forks end at a pre-determined terminus region, which is approximately opposite to the origin (oriC) site. Hence, it prevents the terminus-to-origin movement of any replication fork.

What areas of Mathematics are essential to Molecular Biology?


Based on ongoing research, and designed to use the project-based-learning approach, the modules highlight applications of modern discrete mathematics and algebraic statistics to pressing problems in molecular biology. For the majority of projects, calculus is not a required prerequisite and, due to the modest amount of mathematical background needed for some of the modules, the materials can be used for an early introduction to mathematical modeling.

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