Science doesn’t come cheap! That is very much the case when it comes to analytical instrumentation, including Liquid Chromatography – Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS) systems, which can run into many tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds per instrument.

As a very powerful analytical technique present in a large variety of labs (from food analysis to pharmaceutical development), it’s very much considered a high priority when looking at very low detection limits (ppm).

There’s often a debate between purchasing new and refurbished analytical instruments, with pros and cons for both decisions. Refurbished instruments can often provide savings of between 40-60% compared to purchasing new, which can be very palatable for those on a budget!

Let’s delve into what refurbished instruments are, and whether it would be the right avenue for your next LC-MS purchase.

Used versus Refurbished: a world of difference!

Although often used interchangeably, there is quite a distinct difference when it comes to the system being purchased! Used (or preowned/as-is) just means that the instrument had at least one previous owner before coming up for sale, it says absolutely nothing about the quality of the system or it’s current condition.

Refurbished instruments are also pre-owned, but they have been serviced (potentially repaired) and tested to the original manufacturer’s specifications, meaning there is a benchmark that the LC-MS has been proven to reach. Sellers of refurbished instruments tend to have a much stronger background with the instrument in question and usually offer warranty or service contracts to go alongside the initial purchase.

It’s a critical distinction that needs to be evaluated during a purchase! There are quite a few companies that sell used lab instruments, but far fewer have the expertise to diagnose, repair and test to the degree required to refurbish scientific instrumentation. Admittedly refurbished instrumentation (LC-MS included) often comes with a slightly higher price tag, but the purchase risk is considerably lower!

New is always better than old?

The quality and reliability of analytical instrumentation from leading manufacturers have been extremely high for the past few decades. Even with extended use and high duty cycles, older versions/models may still have many years of high performance left in them!

That’s not to say there aren’t scenarios where purchase of the latest model isn’t advised or required. If your application requires a very high-tech feature that only new instruments offer, or you’re pushing into extremely novel/specialist research, then sometimes only the latest/most sensitive systems are appropriate! But in the vast majority of cases, the minimal shifts between instrument generations (especially the case with LC-MS) means that refurbished systems are more than appropriate for the level of analysis they are tasked with undertaking!

Why did they get rid of their analytical instrument?

It’s an extremely common myth that refurbished instruments are ‘junk’ and are either broken or defective. It’s far too costly and time consuming for us to invest in reviving instruments that are ‘too far gone!’

Instead, we look for instruments that were well maintained and looked after during their initial usage, no matter how heavily used they were. It’s far more useful to invest spare parts, such as orifice plates, pumps and electronics boards, in quality instruments that provide a much greater return for less!

In terms of refurbished LC-MS, there are quite a few common reasons for labs to sell their systems on:

  • The lab has been restructured or downsized, and can no longer house their LC-MS.
  • The group/lab’s research direction has shifted, so the LC-MS can no longer be employed effectively.
  • A new version of the same system has been purchased and installed, so the old LC-MS is no longer used (or used enough to justify upkeep!)
  • Staff changes mean that the company no longer has the expertise to operate their LC-MS
  • The company/laboratory has liquidated their assets.

No matter the reason the system has ended up in our hands, we ensure it is high-quality, up to the manufacturers standards and ready to get straight back into chemical analysis.


If you’re in the market for purchasing a refurbished LC-MS (or just curious to see our current offering), then visit our website to potentially save tens of thousands on your next system.

If you have any questions about our refurbished instruments, give us a call on 0800 030 6896 or email us at: