Vortex mixers are quite commonplace in bioscience laboratories. In cell culture and microbiology laboratories they may be used to suspend cells. In a biochemical or analytical laboratory they may be used to mix the reagents of an assay or to mix an experimental sample and a dilutant.
An alternative to the electric vortex mixer is the "finger vortex" technique in which a vortex is created manually by striking a test tube in a forward and downward motion with one's finger or thumb. This generally takes longer and often results in inadequate suspension, although it may be suitable in some cases when a vortex mixer is unavailable or the forces involved in vortexing would damage the sample, but this technique is not recommended when caustic substances are involved. The technique is better suited to accelerate the mixture of solutions which do not require the kinetic energy input needed to create suspensions.