Somewhere in every chromatography troubleshooting guide there will be a section on issues that can be traced back to poor connections on the column. It’s a small part of ‘optimized system performance’ but, peak broadening, splitting, and tailing, as well as loss of resolution, can often be caused by badly connected fittings. The effect is seen both in UHPLC and HPLC set-ups. To simplify connectivity, finger-tight polymeric (PEEK) fittings were widely adopted. Traditional stainless fittings typically require two wrenches to tighten, while at the same time requiring proper alignment of tubing into the column inlet. It is not straightforward, especially in tight spaces, and typically requires some expertise to get right. It’s easy to get the alignment wrong, resulting in leaks and chromatographic issues. Besides, stainless fittings are irreversibly swaged onto the tubing. For fittings that are incorrectly aligned, both the fitting and tubing must be discarded, resulting in time wasted, frustration, and financial loss.
So, simply using a finger-tight fitting should solve all potential problems – right? Unfortunately, not all such fittings are created equal. Before we look at the important technical specifications, we should consider the economic argument.
A cost-effective solution
For many labs, the economics of switching hardware elements is just as important as ensuring the best analytical performance. In this regard, Agilent InfinityLab Quick Connect and Quick Turn fittings certainly stack up. The reliable reusability of these fittings for over 200 injections means that there’s a long-term value for each of the fittings. In addition, all analysts can use InfinityLab fittings without any need for training, or practice in specific alignment. A zero dead volume connection by every user, every time ensures a reduction in damaged or broken columns. It also eliminates the cost of reruns or more analysis, which is needed when traditional fittings fail. It all adds up to significant added economic value for a lab switching to InfinityLab Quick Connect or InfinityLab Quick Turn fittings.
Ensuring the best separation
In developing these innovative InfinityLab Quick Connect and Quick Turn fittings, our product specialists considered the following important factors:
- Stability at high pressure – ideally up to 1,300 bar for UHPLC
- Once connected, no need to retighten
- Long-life, able to be disassembled and re-assembled many times without loss of performance
- Leak proof at all pressures
- Easy for all users to get the same connection every time (no expertise or training required)
- Connection geometry that automatically ensures zero dead volume every time
Agilent’s InfinityLab fittings address these points with a unique design and proprietary spring-loaded closure mechanism that always produces a sure connection and guarantees zero dead volume. InfinityLab Quick Connect uses a lever to complete the closure of the fitting, giving a perfect connection every time, for every user. For space-limited situations where the column connections are too tight to use this design, the alternative Quick Turn fitting (that also incorporates the same unique spring-loaded mechanism) is available.
Reusability and robustness
Agilent has proven the InfinityLab fitting design in over 200 uses. It compares to other finger-tight fittings that may appear to be well connected but lose performance after just 30 uses. To make this assessment of the reusability and robustness, an Agilent Quick Connect fitting was disconnected and reconnected 200 times. Chromatograms before and after 200 reconnections were compared and no visible change in the chromatogram was seen. In addition, watching the most sensitive measures for peak-broadening effects through ECV (extracolumn volume) or micro-leakage also showed no change after 200 injections.
For a detailed description of the novel spring-loaded mechanism, and to see the data from the comparisons, read more here.
The significance of InfinityLab Quick Connect has been recognized by two major industry awards. First, the R&D 100 shortlist – the R&D Magazine awards recognize the most technologically significant products introduced into the marketplace in a given year. The Analytical Scientist also gave Agilent’s InfinityLab fittings its coveted Innovation Award, commenting: “It is the only true finger-tight UHPLC fitting stable to 1,300 bar that can be used over and over again without loss of performance.”
So, to ensure reliable analytical performance, laboratory productivity and operational efficiency, consider the evidence for InfinityLab fittings. In our experience, customers who make the change to InfinityLab fittings say that they will never go back!
For a complete overview of InfinityLab fittings visit: http://www.agilent.com/chem/aline
The Agilent InfinityLab family now includes InfinityLab Supplies
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