There are a number of resources through which people can obtain scientific equipment. The options vary depending on the type of equipment needed, how it will be used, and the funds available to the person seeking equipment. Equipment such as laboratory glassware, for example, is readily available from numerous outlets, while highly specialized equipment such as particle accelerators needs to be custom built for specific applications.
One resource for basic scientific equipment such as scientific instruments, glassware, safety equipment, surgical equipment, and so forth is catalogs. Suppliers of scientific equipment often have websites through which orders can be placed, and also periodically issue catalogs with listings of their products. It is also possible to order directly from many manufacturers, which can sometimes result in a better price, because the middleman is cut out of the deal.
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Ordering from manufacturers may be necessary when specialty products are needed or installation is required. For products which require special installation, it is also possible to go to firms which specialize in outfitting labs, hospitals, and other scientific facilities to obtain equipment and certified installation. Specialty products also commonly come with maintenance contracts. When a hospital orders a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine, for example, the company agrees to service it as part of the purchase price.
Another way to obtain scientific equipment is through leasing. Scientific equipment can be extremely expensive, and a lease may be a better option when the need is temporary or funds are limited. Leases are usually full service, with the company delivering the equipment, servicing it as needed, and picking it up when the term of the lease ends. Leasing can also be used to test out equipment before buying it to see if it will meet the needs of the people who will be using it. Leases are offered by some manufacturers as well as companies which specialize in equipment leasing.
Auctions are another option for getting scientific equipment. Labs may periodically auction off older or surplus equipment, which can be useful for facilities like high school labs which may not need state of the art equipment. Government auctions are an especially good resource, as they pool used equipment from numerous government scientific facilities to sell all at once. Labs which are going out of business or entering bankruptcy may also hold auctions to raise funds to settle debts, and good scientific equipment can be picked up at low cost in such situations.