1995/6 MSPPSA report on Microplate Instrumentation

112 pages, 150 graphs and tables

Published: November 14, 1995

Price: $2295

The fastest growing market for microplate instrumentation is among life science researchers. In fact, 28% of U.S. life science researchers, over 27,000 individuals, currently use microplate instrumentation. Our detailed analysis of the market for 1995 puts microplate reader sales at over $46 million, with a compound annual growth to this research segment of +27.9% since 1990. And analysis of the purchase plans for current users and nonusers projects accelerated growth for the immediate future.

The 112 page study, which forms part of PhorTech's MSPPSA series, examines the installed base of microplate readers (including separate analyses for photometric, radiometric, fluorometric, chemiluminometric, luminometric, and fluorescent polarization readers), as well as microplate washers, shakers, incubators, automated liquid handling systems, software, and complete robotic systems. Unit and dollar placements per year, market sizes and growth rates, plus unit and dollar market shares for each of these instrument categories have been calculated, based upon our analysis of the responses to over 3,000 surveys mailed out to a cross-section of life science researchers last autumn. We also identify the most frequently mentioned models for each class of microplate instrument and the average reported prices for each manufacturer. The greatest share of instruments were from Molecular Devices followed closely by Dynatech. The most popular readers photmetric readers Molecular Devices Vmax, Thermomax and Spectromax. The PerSeptive BioSystems Cytofluor accounted for the most citations of fluorometric readers, while the Dynatech 3000 represented luminometric readers.

For the auxiliary instruments, a varied group of suppliers shared a large market, with Beckman performing especially well. The Dynatech Ultrawash was the most popular washer, LabLine's 3528 Orbit Shaker came in first for shakers, and the entire Beckman Biomek series excelled for automated liquid handling systems. Molecular Devices Softmanx and Vmax were the most often cited software packages.

Complete demographic analyses include the distribution of users by type of organization. For example, we found the industrial segment to be more highly penetrated than either academic, hospitals and medical schools, or government agencies. Users were focused in immunology, but also were found in high concentrations among endocrinologists, cell biologists, biochemists, and microbiologists and to a lesser extent among molecular biologists. We analyze the number and type of assays formulated in microplate formats including ELISA, fluorescent ELISA, light scattering assays, chemiluminescent, scintillation proximity, RIA, other types of scintillation assays, or colorimetric assays. ELISA's remain the number one application for microplates, followed by colorimetric and fluorescent assays. In spite of the development of many new assay methods, the traditional standbys still account for the vast majority of microplate assays run in the research laboratory.

The number of plates run per month was examined for typical microplate applications including LAL testing, total protein, NADH reactions, enzymology, cytotoxicity, cell proliferation, receptor-ligand, signal transduction, antigen binding, competitive inhibition, enzyme kinetics, nucleic acid detection, toxicology screening, metabolic and other studies. The most often used was antigen binding and total protein assays, each used by one third of respondents.

Tthe two leading microplate reader suppliers, Molecular Devices and Dynatech, achieved very different satisfaction ratings. The odds are 2:1 that Molecular Devices customers are significantly more satisfied than recent purchasers of microplate readers are in general. Respondents also rate leading suppliers specifically in the areas of ease of use, versatility, reliable quality, innovation, value for money, speed of results, quality of field service, and commitment to microplate analysis. Molecular Devices tops the ranking in 6 of the eight areas, but is extremely vulnerable in value and field service. Dynatech takes a strong lead in exactly these two areas.

The report itemizes specific verbatim suggestions for improvements by current users. Surprisingly, respondents were relatively unconcerned with pricing issues compared with ease of use, better software, sensitivity and speed. Finally, respondents were specifically queried about their level of interest in 384-well format readers and demonstrated that this new design may indeed have a following.

Since its release, the report has been purchased by a dozen companies determined to strengthen their position in this growth market. We consider this report essential reading for anyone serious intending to succeed in this increasingly competitive arena.

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