I am at a loss. Which of these two is correct? I mean scale as range of action, not a laboratory equipment.

Thank you in advance for suggestions

  • Please, can you use it in a sentence and give a bit of context? (You can edit your question freely by clicking either on the link I just gave you or on the edit label under the question itself.) – user3395 Sep 6 '19 at 13:03
  • Because of the ambiguity of "scale", I would use a different phrase: In a laboratory environment ... or In the scope of a laboratory ... although "scope" could also be ambiguous, but less so. – Weather Vane Sep 6 '19 at 14:20
  • Thank you for your suggestion. – Piotr Sep 6 '19 at 22:16

If "scale" would be a thing in the lab (e.g. the scale of a fish being analayzed), and there would be something in that scale, then the following would be correct:

In a laboratory scale

If the "scale" in the lab is the device used to measure wights, then the following would be correct:

On the laboratory scales there were...

However, you need the other meaning of scale, and the correct way to use it is:

On a laboratory scale...

Compare with:

On a scale from 1 to 5, the camera got a rating of 4.

  • 2
    I agree with the second half of your answer, which is the question the OP actually asked. As for the first half - most laboratories do have scales, and even when they have a protective box around them to prevent air movement, I would still expect to hear of putting the sample "on the scale" not "in the scale." – Adam Sep 6 '19 at 14:00
  • Thank you for your help. – Piotr Sep 6 '19 at 22:18
  • @Adam: you are right, the word has to many meanings :) I added to the answer. Thank you. +1 – virolino Sep 9 '19 at 5:33

"On a laboratory scale" is also to describe a process that is being developed prior to being run "On an industrial / production / commercial scale". It means small scale, using standard laboratory equipment where possible rather than production scale with large, purpose built plant.

"Once we've got the bugs out of the process on a laboratory scale, we will go on to build a production line in our Birminham factory"

It can also mean that the quantities of the product required are so small that it is uneconomic to set up dedicated, specialised production equipment.

"There is so little call for this drug that we only make small batches on a laboratory scale"

This phrase is most often used in the chemical, food or pharmaceutical industries.

"In a laboratory scale" is a phrase I don't think I've ever heard used other than describibg the workings of a balance.

  • Thanks a lot Peter. – Piotr Sep 7 '19 at 6:03

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