Precast vs. Handcast Gels for SDS PAGE

Precast Gels Offer Better Data Quality

Most researchers use precast gels; this way they can readily generate consistent and reproducible data, as well as benefit from significant time savings. Precast gels are now available in a wide variety of percentages and formulations, including gradient gels for the resolution of a broader range of proteins. Precast gels also offer greater uniformity and ease of use than traditional handcast alternatives.

Precast gels also represent a far safer approach to protein separation as they eliminate the need to handle the acrylamide monomer. Further benefits of precast gels include high chemical stability, which provides a considerably longer shelf life, so permitting batch reservation.

Handcast Gels Can Delay Workflows

Handcast gels are time consuming to prepare and often need to be repeated, which can make them uneconomical, not only because of the additional time taken, but also due to the waste of reagents. When poured badly, handcast gels result in irregular bands or streaking of proteins. This makes quantitation difficult and can delay downstream workflows while experiments are repeated. Further disadvantages of handcasting include the high potential for introducing user bias and the susceptibility of handcasting apparatus to leakage. Numerous safety implications are associated with handling unpolymerized acrylamide, which is a known neurotoxin and probable human carcinogen.

The Table Below Shows the Main Differences Between Precast and Handcast Gels:

Precast Gels Handcast Gels
Cost$$$ / £££$ / £
Cost effectiveness++++
Availability Immediate≥1 hour
Risk of toxic side effects Not applicable+++
Quality Control+++ Not applicable
Shelf life1–2 years<1 month
Risk of in-gel artifacts (e.g.
irregular bands / streaking /
Not applicable++
Gel to gel consistency++++
Gel to gel variability Not applicable++
Reproducibility +++Not applicable
Main usersAllAcademia / small
research lab's
Gradient gels++++
Gradient chemistries++++
Leakage during preparationNot applicable++

If you still prefer to handcast your gels instead of optimizing your time in the laboratory with our range of precast gels, then we have a range of accessories to help you to prepare them. Learn more at: Products for handcast gels.


Hames. Series ed. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.

Pantusa, VP., Stock, TH., Morandi, MT., et al. Inhalation exposures to acrylamide in biomedical laboratories. AIHA J (Fairfax, Va). 2002 Jul-Aug;63(4):468–73.

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