5 Things to Consider When Buying a Reciprocal Shaker

Purchasing the right reciprocal shaker for any laboratory can be a tedious and time-consuming process. This list is intended to ensure labs are making safe and informed buying decisions. Please consider these options when buying a reciprocating shaker. 

What is a Reciprocal Shaker?

Reciprocating shakers are lab shakers that produce a side-to-side or back-and-forth motion. They are most commonly used for gentle to vigorous mixing of Erlenmeyer flasks, separatory funnels, and other containers for many different applications including chemical, pharmaceutical, hospital, and food/beverage. Reciprocal Shakers are also designed for use in solubility studies, extraction procedures, and cell cultures that require accurate and reproducible results.

There are a few different types of reciprocal shakers to keep in mind. There are linear reciprocal shakers, rocker arm shakers (reciprocal shakers that move back and forth in an arc motion), long stroke reciprocal shakers, and short stroke reciprocal shakers.

Reciprocal shakers can be used for many different applications from gentle swirling to aggressive mixing/homogenizing to dry sieving or sifting. Eberbach reciprocal shakers have been used in a variety of pharmaceutical applications including chromatography resin resuspension, vial reconstitution, and mining applications. 

Here are the five things to consider when purchasing a reciprocal shaker.

Suspension Type

The first thing to look for when purchasing a reciprocal shaker is the suspension type – is it a rocker arm suspension or a linear rail suspension? These two different types of suspensions will provide two different mixing actions.

The rocker arm suspension will produce a more aggressive mixing action due to the rocker arm design. Below is a diagram showing Eberbach’s rocker arm design. The rocker arms create two axes of motion: a vertical component of motion along with the horizontal axis of motion. These two components produce an arc that can generate a more aggressive agitation than a standard reciprocal shaker or can mimic an orbital shaker at certain speeds with certain vessel sizes.

Eberbach's Rocker Arm Design


Stroke Length

The second item you want to look at when buying a reciprocal shaker is the stroke length. Depending on the mixing needs and the vessel size, the stroke length can generate a swirling mixing action or an aggressive homogenization action.

Shaker Features

A reciprocal shaker will often come with different features including digital readout, countdown timer, data integration, network capabilities, IP ratings, and hazardous location ratings.


One characteristic of a reciprocal shaker that you must consider is the shaker's robustness. Reciprocating shakers are best suited for repeatable and reproducible mixing. Allowing the shaker to do the work for you and limiting any risks of human error.

When it comes to robustness, it is very simple. If a shaker is broken or not working, it will not help you and can even cause your operations to lose money.

Total Cost of Ownership

The final thing to consider when buying a reciprocal shaker is the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). The Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is the Initial Cost or the purchase price of the shaker plus the Operational Costs, plus the Maintenance Costs, plus any Downtime Costs. Assessing the Total Cost of Ownership of a shaker requires stepping back and evaluating what a shaker's value over time will look like.

When evaluating alternatives in a purchasing decision, buyers should not only look at the shaker's Initial Cost/short-term price/purchase price but also look at the shaker's long-term price, which is its Total Cost of Ownership.

The shaker with the lower Total Cost of Ownership is the better value in the long run.


The initial cost is the purchase price of the unit. The purchase price of a unit is typically less than 10 percent of the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).


Operation costs are the costs to install the shaker, validate the shaker, train employees to operate the shaker, and the cost of energy the shaker uses during operation.


Maintenance cost includes the cost of calibration and/or regular repairs to make sure it is in optimal condition. Maintenance costs also include reactive maintenance when the equipment breaks down unexpectedly.


While you could include downtime along with the cost of maintenance, it is often so large that it warrants its own category. Downtime involves the labor costs of employees whose work is delayed, indirect labor costs from supervisors who address the issue, lost production, and lost customers from the inability to meet time expectations.


Ready to shop Reciprocal Shakers? 

Knowing exactly what reciprocal shaker to purchase can be intimidating. This list will provide a good frame of knowledge to ensure confidence when making this purchase for a lab.

If you would like to learn more or shop Eberbach’s line of reliable and robust reciprocal shakers, follow this link.