Eppi Turns 50

The microliter system celebrates its birthday

Not many innovations set standards and revolutionize application processes, but the Eppendorf tube, also known as the “Eppi”, can certainly claim to be one of them.

The first Eppendorf tube appeared on the market in 1963 and quickly gained popularity in German medical and bioscience laboratories.Eppis allowed laboratory workers to fill and store small sample amounts easily and practically. They were also useful for multiple experiments, because they reduced the total amount of sample material needed. The development of vaccines and new medications would be unthinkable today without the Eppi and its specific material properties, which Eppendorf has continued to develop.

Part of the microliter system

The impetus for developing the tube was the 1961 invention of the piston pipette, which enabled the precise manual measurement of liquids in milliliters.  Since at the time there were no devices that could process these samples further, Eppendorf invented the microliter system, consisting of mixers, centrifuges and Eppendorf tubes. To this day, these products remain the core not just of laboratory work, but also Eppendorf’s product portfolio.

By 1966, Eppendorf had sold more than one million tubes, and just five years later the ten-million mark was passed. The great demand for products from an ever larger portfolio led to Eppendorf’s decision to open a production site in 1975 in Oldenburg, Holstein. The same year saw the market launch of a capless tube for the automated pipetting systems on the market, and different sizes adapted to customer needs were also produced. In 1992 Eppendorf's ”Biopur“ standard was certified. Laboratory consumables that bear this seal are sterile and free of DNA and even ATP, among other things. They are subject to a total of eight lot-specific tests that are all certified. Biopur represents the highest grade of purity currently offered by Eppendorf.

Eppendorf tubes are produced in our main factory in Oldenburg under the most modern manufacturing conditions. Over a billion Eppis have been manufactured since the Eppi was invented, and today the Eppendorf Safe-Lock tube sets the standard worldwide for simple, safe sample processing in the microliter area.

The average German laboratory uses hundreds of them every week, ensuring the Eppi an uncontested ranking as one of the most important consumable items in the lab – as well as being one of the most well-known products associated with the Eppendorf name. Laboratories all over the world profit from the quality of the Eppi, which has set standards across the industry together with other Eppendorf consumables and devices.

New 5.0 mL Eppi

In 2013 we have launched the Eppendorf Tube 5.0 mL on the market, a step that will close a gap in the available tube sizes. We will also be offering an extensive system of adapters, rotors, racks and accessories. A big new microliter system is born, and with it, a new chapter in the success story of the Eppi! We already have the first proof: even before its official launch, the Eppendorf Tube 5.0 mL and the Tube Rack 5.0 mL, along with other Eppendorf products, won the red dot design award 2013 in the category Life Science and Medicine.


Eppi history

Please click the arrows to browse the Eppi history.

1962 – First Eppi

The company Eppendorf Gerätebau Netheler & Hinz GmbH develops a small plastic container for liquids – the first Eppi.

1963 – Eppi „3810“

The first Eppi – “3810” – is launched on the market, revolutionizing daily laboratory routines.

1964 – Microliter system

The microliter system is introduced. With it, for the first time products for an entire laboratory process are available. In addition to the Eppi as its most important element, the system consists of pipettes, pipette tips, centrifuges, Thermomixers and photometers.

1975 – Eppi „3811“

The capless Eppi (“3811”) for automated systems is launched, and the factory in Oldenburg, Holstein in Germany is opened.

1979 – Eppi „3812“

Eppi “3812” is introduced on the market. Characteristic for this model are its rigid cap and conical form.

1988 – Eppendorf Safe-Lock Tube

The Eppendorf Safe-Lock tube is introduced.

1992 – Biopur Standard

The Biopur standard is introduced and gradually becomes a fixed laboratory standard.

2000 – PCR Clean Standard

The “PCR clean” standard for Eppis is introduced, with manufacture in Oldenburg in cleanroom production.

2001 – LidBac

The LidBac Eppi for breeding bacterial cultures is launched.

2004 – Eppendorf LoBind® Tubes

A new Eppi line is introduced: Eppendorf LoBind tubes, which enable a nearly complete recovery of DNA, RNA, proteins, viruses and peptides.

2005 – 30,000 x g

Safe-Lock tubes and the 3810X (Flex-Tube) vessel can be centrifuged at 30,000 x g for the greatest possible security and rapid protocols.

2013 – Eppendorf Tubes 5.0 mL

The Eppendorf Tubes 5.0 mL are with its matching system of adapters, rotors, racks and accessories are launched on the market.

Eppi facts

About Eppi

  • The average German laboratory uses several hundred Eppis every week

  • The 50 years since the Eppi was invented have seen a host of new models launched on the market, but the tube’s conical form has become a laboratory standard and has been kept nearly unchanged since the beginning. As of 2013, Eppis are available in four sizes.

  • Today, the Eppendorf Safe-Lock Tube introduced nearly 20 years ago is the standard worldwide for easy and safe sample processing in the microliter range.

  • „Eppi”, the Eppendorf tube, is synonymous with micro test tubes.

  • Over a billion Eppis have been manufactured since it was invented.

  • Eppendorf markets the Eppi around the world – in Europe, the Americas and Asia.

  • The development of vaccines and new medications would be unthinkable today without the Eppi.

  • The development of “smart consumables” – that is, of vessels with completely new material properties – means that many of today’s protocols are safer and easier to perform

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