We had an amazing time exhibiting at Pittcon 2018, the international conference for laboratory science professionals, held this year in Orlando, Florida. It was a great venue for reconnecting with old friends and colleagues, as well as for speaking with hundreds of laboratory scientists and facilities managers who were eager to talk about the issues and problems they face every day. To the hundreds of lab science professionals that we visited with, we’d like to extend a big “Thank You!”
Making up the largest groups of attendees visiting the Formaspace booth at Pittcon were bench chemists and scientists, followed by laboratory managers. There was a strong education presence as well, with many laboratory facility planners from universities and colleges in attendance. We were also pleased to meet many of the next generations of laboratory scientists who came to the Pittcon exhibition: young, enthusiastic STEM students who were eager to learn more about laboratory equipment and career opportunities in science.
Helping Bench Scientists and Lab Managers at Pittcon with Their Laboratory Projects
Making connections with customers and helping solve their problems is why we really like attending Pittcon.
These face-to-face meetings at our booth not only provide us with important feedback on our current laboratory product lines, they also serve as an invaluable source of ideas for new product features and concepts that will guide our new laboratory product initiatives in the months to come.
Indeed, a distinguishing characteristic of the 2018 Pittcon exhibition was how many people came to us with current lab projects that they were working on — and they needed advice on how to create the right type of lab layout or perhaps how to design a custom setup for the equipment they planned to use.
Pittcon Success Story: Formaspace’s Triton Integrated Services Bench
The feedback and advice we get from customers at events like Pittcon are invaluable.
In fact, there is a one-to-one correspondence between what we learn from customers and the new product lines that we introduce.
For example, take our highly successful integrated lab services bench. Did you know that when we first introduced it at Pittcon, we didn’t have a final name for the product line? It’s true. Instead, we asked Pittcon attendees to name the product, which they did. It now goes by the name Triton™, which is a superb choice that’s inspired by the guardian of the sea in Greek mythology as well as the name of Neptune’s largest moon.
Not only did Pittcon attendees help name the product, they were the inspiration for it. Laboratory managers came to us at our booth at Pittcon and said they were looking for a lower-cost, yet high-quality integrated service bench. So we built one with integrates services for computer data and electrical power, as well as support for pressurized air and other gases, vacuum lines, and water supplies.
To learn more about Triton, visit our product page.
Hot Trend #1 at Pittcon 2018: Cannabis Testing Laboratories
What about other hot topics and product suggestions we heard at Pittcon?
Quite a number of Pittcon attendees visiting the Formaspace booth were asking questions about the ideal setup for new cannabis testing laboratories. And why not? With legal, recreational cannabis sales taking place in Washington state, Colorado, and, starting this past January 1, in California, there is an increasing need for certified testing laboratories to assure product safety, efficacy, and quality.
Since creating the lab furniture for our first cannabis testing lab in Nevada, we’ve been working with dozens of cannabis testing lab customers in California and Colorado who are working toward or have completed the process of becoming certified by their governing state agencies. Also, we recently wrote an introductory guide to How to Start a Cannabis Testing Lab, which is a good primer for this hot trend in the commercial laboratory testing world.
Hot Trend #2 at Pittcon 2018: Organic Food – Soil Testing
Quite a few Pittcon bench scientists and facility managers spoke with us about how the growing demand for organic food by consumers is driving the need for more testing facilities capable of certifying organic food products and the agricultural soil and water used to grow them.
With major changes underway in the retail grocery industry, most notably Amazon acquiring Whole Foods, this trend is likely to grow bigger (pardon the pun) in the next few years.
Look for more upcoming information coming from Formaspace later in March 2018 as we prepare some new product announcements and provide some in-depth guides on how to create an efficient organic food and soil testing laboratory facility.
Hot Trend #3 at Pittcon 2018: Custom Safety Equipment in the Lab
Our third hot topic at Pittcon 2018 has to do with safety considerations arising from new types of laboratory gear, such as High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) equipment.
Like most of the new generation laboratory test equipment, many of the newest HPLC models are smaller and more powerful than those of earlier generations. But despite the smaller dimensions, they are still quite expensive and sensitive and need to be treated as such. Just putting them on a shelf doesn’t solve the problem, because they also need to be accessed for maintenance and for replacing the testing solvent supplies.
This latter point is something that a number of Pittcon attendees brought up: these HPLC solvents can spill or splash, making them a hazard to lab techs and to surrounding equipment. This got our lab facility designers very excited, and they are looking into new ways to solve these problems. One of them pointed out that the custom mobile solution we created for DNA sequencing machines could be the right answer.
Watch for more information on this topic coming soon!
Hot Trend #4 at Pittcon 2018: Facility Planning for Educational Laboratories
As we mentioned earlier, compared to previous years, there were a greater number of facility planners from educational institutions in attendance at Pittcon 2018 who were looking for advice on building new student laboratories.
This may be an indication that there are increased budgets available for capital improvements for lab construction and lab renovation projects. This is good news, as we need to increase the overall number of STEM graduates — particularly young women and girls — going into science fields and also into the manufacturing sector.
As summer approaches, many education facilities will be renovating, expanding, or upgrading their laboratories. As we’ve written about before, summer is the optimal time during the calendar year for educational institutions to make these renovations, given the lower number of students on campus and the relatively good weather for construction projects.
Don’t forget that Formaspace offers quick turnaround (in as little as three weeks) for our standard desks, benches, and other lab furniture, which is good news for those lab facility managers working on tight deadlines. And if you are in the market for chemical resistant countertops, check out our sister website at Epoxytops.com.
Hot Trend #5 at Pittcon: Virtual Reality (VR) Applications
We couldn’t help but notice that there were 5 or 6 vendors at Pittcon who were showing off their virtual reality (VR) applications.
Folks attending our booth were interested in our own VR-based 3D Configurator tool. It uses game technology to render virtual versions of our desks, benches, and tables, making it easy to check out different materials, surface treatments, and options for storage, data management, and power supplies. It works on smartphones and PCs and Macs as well, no headset required.
Check out the 3D Configurator for yourself.
Just for Fun: Our Informal Pittcon Exhibitor Awards
We not only got to connect with hundreds of science lab professionals at Pittcon, we also met lots of great people exhibiting their own products during the event.
We’d like to give a shout out to some of our favorite displays that really caught our attention.
- Our president and CEO here at Formaspace, Jeff Turk, was really taken with the SelectScience booth, which featured a tricked out DeLorean car. (You may recall we chose a DeLorean for our series What’s in Your Fantasy Garage?.)
- Millipore Sigma was another Formaspace staff favorite. Their beautiful lighting displays and corporate branding were very eye-catching and unique within the laboratory science market.
- And last, but not least, we wanted to say hi to the folks at Lab Conco, which had a very expansive showcase featuring many of their products, which was accented by amazing lighting and a beautiful blue carpet.
See You Next Year in Philadelphia for Pittcon 2019
Time marches by quickly. The first quarter of 2018 is almost at an end, and it’s already time to plan for the next gathering of laboratory professionals at Pittcon 2019.
This time we will move north from Florida to the heart of the Northeast Corridor in Philadelphia, a city in a region well known for its heavy hitters in the university research and development arena as well as laboratory science giants in the biological testing and pharmaceutical world, including GlaxoSmithKline, Icon PLC, Merck & Co., and Teva Pharmaceuticals.
Meanwhile, we stand ready to assist you with your laboratory facility needs. Speak to one of our friendly Formaspace Design Consultants, located here at our factory headquarters in Austin, Texas. We can help you plan the ideal laboratory facility or renovation upgrade, and supply you with our full line of customizable wet and dry lab furniture, either in traditional casework or in our modern modular laboratory systems that grow as you do. Give us a call today or fill out the quick contact form below. You’ll be glad you did.