T-flasks vs. Roller Bottles vs. Spinner Flasks vs. Cell Factories

Common types of containers used to grow cells include t-flasks, roller bottles, cell factories, and spinner flasks. What determines the container used is the type of cells you are attempting to expand and/or size of the culture. The two prominent types of cell shape and growth style are adherent cells and suspension cells.

Adherent cells need a surface to which they can attach to for growth and multiplication. T-flasks, roller bottles and cell factories can be made with coated surfaces to which adherent cells may attach themselves. Surface area is the measurement criteria in these cases.

On the other hand, suspension cells are able to grow “suspended” or free-floating in a liquid growth medium. Spinner flasks are commonly chosen based on desired quantity of cells and use volume measurements, such as liters and milliliters.


One coated side of a T-flask for adherent cells is used for cells to grow upon. A suspension cell line would use a non-coated T-flask. These are ideal when you are beginning from a small quantity of cells, such as the start of a cell culture from a single thawed cell bank vial.

Roller Bottles

Roller bottles are slowly rotated with a machine, which allows the cells to grow on the whole inner surface of the container. As the container rotates, exposure occurs between the liquid media and the cells inside of the container. When higher quantities of cells are required, roller bottles are often the desirable choice as cells can grow on all of the inner surface. Often a cell culture is started in a T-flask with roller bottles serving as the next step up as cell quantities increase. Similarly to T-flasks, adherent cells would require a coated bottle and suspension cells would require a non-coated bottle.

Cell Factories

Cell culture amplification utilizes cell factories for industrial production of monoclonal antibodies and vaccines or in a reduced size lab space. In addition, this smaller footprint will allow for reduced manipulation, less labor hours needed for maintenance, and lower equipment requirements of a lab space.

Spinner Flasks

These flasks utilize a rotating magnet plate, driving a magnetic stirrer. This stirrer provides uniform, constant agitation, preventing the cells from settling to the bottom and keeping them uniformly distributed throughout the growth medium. This vessel is only appropriate for use with suspension cell lines. Hybridomas can be grown in spinner flasks for monoclonal antibody production, in which the antibody-enriched supernatant is purified. At Cell Culture Company, we are your source for various cell and antibody production services.

To learn about the services we offer for cell culture growth and multiplication give us a call today at 763.786.0302 or reach us through our contact form.