Marcus L. Rowland (ffutures) wrote,
Marcus L. Rowland

Hints to the busy scientist...

...Don't assume that scientists are the only people who use the equipment you need. Occasionally you'll discover that there's a much bigger market out there, and one where the vendors sell at much lower prices.

For example, someone from another school was asking about the price of vacuum pumps on a technician's forum. It happened that I was looking for a supplier of vacuum pump oil that morning, so I had all the main educational catalogues open, and found something suitable at £260 from one supplier, £318 from another, for identical pumps.

So just out of curiosity I took a look on eBay, and found a supplier offering new vacuum pumps with a better specification for £167 including delivery, and one with a slightly poorer specification (but probably still good enough for education) for £109. It turns out that schools aren't the only people who use vacuum pumps; air conditioner and refrigeration installers use them too, to remove dissolved gasses from refrigerant. It's a big market, and one I'd never realised even existed.

Another time I wanted silver foil to make electrodes. It was about £25 for a fairly small bit from a laboratory supplier. We ended up buying it from a place that sold jewellery fixings - paid £8 for considerably more.

Needless to say all of this applies to anyone else who needs to go shopping for apparently specialised items - find out who else needs it, and where they buy it, you might be pleasantly surprised.
Tags: science

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