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Western Blot Equipment

Western Blot Imaging & the Benefits of Leasing

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Western blotting diagram

Western blot imaging is a type of assay commonly used in the lab to perform research or offer services related to molecular biology.

Biotech diagram

Specifically, western blot imaging systems allow for the visualization and study of target proteins within a mixture of proteins.

Gel imaging is also commonly used in molecular biology, as it enables researchers to study nucleic acids using the same gel-based techniques used in western blotting immunoassays. Many systems available today integrate gel imaging and western blot documentation in one instrument.

Each technique and instrument type offers imaging and documentation capabilities regarding specific nucleic acid and proteins that are suspended within agarose or polyacrylamide gels. These gel samples are generally stained using ethidium bromide or similar fluorophores.

Traditional detection methods include using X-ray film or a transilluminator to detect protein or nucleic acid levels. For example, in chemiluminescent western blots, X-ray film is used to detect target proteins and requires the use of a darkroom.

However, more modernized systems and methods rely on a digital charge-coupled device (CCD) imager to detect. Both modes of detection are commonly used, as each offers valuable benefits to the end-user.

When it comes to digital imaging, western blot and gel doc systems generally include advanced software which simplifies the research process by automatically acquiring the data, analyzing it, and validating it. This is extremely useful when dealing with the many nucleic acid and protein staining modes, including fluorescent, colorimetric, radioisotopic, and chemiluminescent.

By digitizing the gels, you ensure the benefits of accurate sample quantification and simple, practical data storage. This process is even more straightforward as most of these systems are compatible with PC and Mac operating systems.

Types, Benefits, & Gel Doc System Cost

An open hand with a DNA strand coming out of the palm

Western blot and gel imaging systems can simplify complicated research in the life sciences, allowing laboratories to leverage the images for a presentation or store them more conveniently. There are several types of systems used today. The general steps of western blotting are as follows:

First, the researcher must prepare the protein sample by mixing it with a detergent called sodium dodecyl sulfate, making the proteins unfold into linear chains and coating them with a negative charge.

Next, the protein molecules are separated according to their sizes using a method called gel electrophoresis. After separation has been completed, the proteins are transferred from the gel onto a blotting membrane, which holds all of the protein bands originally on the gel.

Afterwards, the membrane goes through a treatment called blocking. Blocking prevents any nonspecific reactions from occurring. The membrane is then incubated with the primary antibody, which specifically binds to the protein of interest.

Following incubation, any unbound primary antibody is washed away, and the membrane is incubated again; however, this time, it is incubated with a secondary antibody. This secondary antibody is used to recognize and bind to the primary antibody. This is because the secondary antibody is linked to a reporter enzyme that produces color or light, which allows it to be easily detected and imaged.

By following these steps, researchers can cause a specific protein to be detected from among a mixture of proteins.

The various types of systems and films used in western blot and gel imaging are described below.

Gel Doc Systems

While there are many choices for gel documentation systems, the one you choose should be tailored to fit your current and future needs. The range of features available makes choosing your customization options an integral part of the leasing process. There are several main features you should know about:

  • Data Analysis & Output: There are many modes and options regarding analysis and output, and by tailoring them to your needs, you can improve the ease with which data evaluation, sharing of data, custom reporting, and image generation are completed.
  • Multi Fluorescent Western Blot: This feature allows for simultaneously analyzing multiple proteins in a single blot. Doing so saves time, as it eliminates the need for loading the sample into multiple wells or reprobing or stripping the blot. This also increases accuracy as it removes human error when reloading the blot.
  • Signal Accumulation Mode: This refers to the accumulation of chemiluminescence data over a period of time, allowing the measurements to be taken as it develops. This ability to capture and analyze the time course for the signals makes it different from film-based systems, which only offer an image at a point in time.

Film Autoradiography

Autoradiography of Western blots requires a specific type of X-ray film for the radioisotope samples involved. These samples are most common in medicine, pharmacology, and research-based laboratories, so its typical to see film western blot imaging in these fields.

The target proteins are exposed to the autoradiography film and transferred to the gel membrane for detection. However, these days, it is more common to use nonradioactive detection methods whenever possible, especially chemiluminescence, which can also be done using x-ray film.


Multiplex assays use fluorescence to illuminate the blotting membrane, detect signals, capture images, and analyze. This makes multiplex fluorescent western blotting extremely useful in experiments that focus on imaging and detecting multiple fluorescent signals or on detecting colorimetric, luminescent, and radioisotopic signals.


This type, primarily used in western blotting, focuses on separating proteins based on their molecular weights. This specific application is popular because it is highly sensitive and often used with techniques that offer improved speed, signal stability, and ease of use.


This is a variation of the multiplex type offering high sensitivity and precise quantitation for radioisotopes, as well as a variety of options regarding emission filters and filters that are dye specific.


The digital types have become increasingly common, as increased functionality and ease of use make them very beneficial. Combined with operating the system using a PC or Mac, it simplifies data acquisition and analysis.


This type enhances sensitivity for multiplex applications as well as radioisotopes. This, similarly to laser type, offers flexibility in choice regarding filters and includes customizable options.

We Offer Gel Documentation System Leases to Fit Every Need

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Founder-Friendly Leases

Our lease agreements are founder-friendly and flexible, helping you preserve working capital, strengthen the cash flow of your business, and keep business credit lines open for expansions, staffing, and other crucial operational expenses and business development opportunities.

2-5 Year Lease Lengths

Leases range from 2 to 5 years. Length will depend on several factors, including how long you want to use the equipment, equipment type, and your company’s financial position. These are standard factors leasing companies consider and help us tailor a lease agreement to fit your needs.

Your Choice of Manufacturer

We don’t carry an inventory. This means you’re not limited to a specific set of manufacturers. Instead, you can pick the equipment that aligns with your business goals and preferences. We’ll work with the manufacturer of your choice to get the equipment in your facility as quickly as possible.

Maintenance & Repair Coverage

Bundle preventive maintenance and repair coverage with your lease agreement. You can spread those payments over time. Easily maintain your equipment, minimize the chances something will break down, repair instrumentation quickly, and simplify your payment processes.

End-of-Lease Options

At the end of your lease, you have multiple options. You can either renew the lease at a significantly lower price, purchase the machine outright based on the fair market value of the original pricing, or call it a day and we’ll come the pick up the equipment for you free of charge.

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Our leases do not include loan-like terms, which can be restrictive or harmful in certain situations. We do not require debt covenants, IP pledges, collateral,  or equity participation. Our goal is to maximize your flexibility. When you lease with us, you’re collaborating with a true business partner.

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Our underwriting is done in-house. You can expect quicker turnaround, allowing you respond to your equipment needs as they arise. We require less documentation than traditional lenders and financiers and can get the equipment you need in operation more quickly.