The Device That Will Revolutionize Manual Tube Labeling

Oct 4, 2018 / by Alex A. Goldberg, Ph.D.

Glove-friendly PikaTAG label applicator

As the complexity of pre-clinical and clinical testing has increased over the last decade, labs have been challenged with collecting, processing, and storing more and more samples on a daily basis. To minimize errors and keep lab efficiency strong, labs depend on robust identification solutions, consisting of high-quality barcode labels, tags, and tapes. The laboratory environment has been characterized by ongoing rapid and dramatic innovation, including the implementation of high-throughput techniques that often require the labeling of large amounts of small sample tubes, such as cryo vials, microtubes, and PCR tubes.  

Speeding up the labeling process

While labels offer the optimal identification option for labs, hand labeling small containers and tubes, such as 8-well PCR tube strips, widely used throughout the fields of biochemistry, molecular biology, and genetics research, can prove to be highly inefficient and take a significant amount of time, limiting the number of samples that can be processed. These small tubes can be frustratingly hard to label and extremely easy to smudge and smear when writing on them, especially with worn down markers. Printed labels can be applied to each tube by hand; however, it still takes a significant amount of time to pick them off the label liner without damaging them, then to stick them by hand to the top of the tubes one at a time. The labels also need to be centered on the tube, which can be difficult to do by hand, resulting in the label getting damaged or accidentally removed. 


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PikaTAG™ label applicator 

Engineered by scientists for scientists, PikaTAG’s cutting-edge ergonomic design provides you with the superior dexterity to easily pick-up small labels from their liner and more quickly and accurately apply them on vial caps or any other surface. Using a pen-like handle with a sticky end, PikaTAG can pick up small labels directly from their liner then attach them to the tops of tubes no matter the size, speeding up labeling exponentially and avoiding the risk of repetitive stress injuries. It is glove-friendly and can be used to apply labels to the tops of 0.2 ml, 0.5 ml, 1.5 ml, and 2 ml microtubes and cryo vials, as well as PCR 8-well tube strips. This novel instrument can serve as a relief for laboratory and research technicians who suffer from the tedious work of fiddling with tiny labels, helping to avoid misplaced or damaged labels, which can have dire consequences to research and clinical analyses.   


The consequences of not using PikaTAG: Poorly labeled samples

As scientists label their tubes as fast as possible, errors are likely to occur. However, PikaTAG helps ensure that tubes are labeled properly, which is paramount to good laboratory management for just about any laboratory setting:

Research labs – Mislabeling of a single tube can completely throw off the results of a large research experiment. Some experiments use patient tissues and cells; in these cases, the experiments cannot be repeated, resulting in a permanent loss of experimental data. In other cases, expensive reagents are wasted, making the lab incur costs above and beyond what they can afford with often low amounts of grant funding.  

Clinical labs – A mislabeled tube can have even greater repercussions, as patients could receive an inaccurate test result, leading to a false diagnosis and resulting in the patient taking an unnecessary and potentially harmful medication, or not receiving the therapy needed to treat their disease. A study from Martin et al1 regarding labeling errors in adult intensive care units (ICUs) found that mislabeled specimens occurred between 0.139 and 1.31 times out of every 1000 samples. The College of American Pathologists estimates that errors like these account for an extra cost to the healthcare system of $280,000 per million specimens.

Using the PikaTAG can avert these costly errors. By making labeling user-friendly and efficient, it bypasses the many pitfalls of hand labeling, thus increasing the speed of picking up labels and ensuring that labels are applied uniformly, avoiding damage or accidental removal. The benefits of using PikaTAG are clear, and they include:

  • Touchless, glove-friendly labeling prevents cross-contamination
  • Effortlessly pick up small dot labels (0.25” [6.4 mm] or 0.354” [9.0 mm] in diameter)
  • Quickly and accurately apply labels to the tops of 0.2 ml, 0.5 ml, 1.5 ml, and 2 ml microtubes and cryo vials, as well as PCR tubes
  • No more accidental misplacements on tubes
  • Ergonomically shaped handle ensures precise application of pressure at both stages of the labeling process
  • Spend more time designing, conducting experiments, and analyzing data
  • Minimize the possibility of lab staff incurring repetitive stress injuries


  1. Martin, H., Metcalfe, S. & Whichello, R. (June 2015). Specimen labeling errors: A retrospective study. Online Journal of Nursing Informatics (OJNI), 19 (2).

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Topics: Labels, Technology, PCR