How it Works: Maintaining Sample Viability

Screw cap tubes are found in the vast majority of laboratories and are commonly used for the long-term storage and cryopreservation of a plethora of sample types. Effectively maintaining sample integrity in these storage environments is of extreme importance to any researcher, and there are key factors that require consideration.

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Problem: Screw cap tubes are found in the vast majority of laboratories and are commonly used for the long-term storage and cryopreservation of a plethora of sample types. Effectively maintaining sample integrity in these storage environments is of extreme importance to any researcher, and there are key factors that require consideration.

Although the tightening of these tubes may seem an insignificant process, the level of torque applied can be of paramount importance to successfully maintaining sample integrity. Tightening by hand is a slow process that can lead to repetitive strain injury (RSI) and that does not offer any measure of reproducibility. If the torque of the cap is not optimal, especially during multiple freeze-thaw cycles, samples can become exposed to external— often non-sterile—environments. Such exposure can subsequently result in attrition or contamination of the sample.

In order to circumvent potential cross contamination, slow sample processing and the risk of RSI, all while increasing throughput, laboratories employ the use of automated cappers/decappers. However, these instruments commonly use metal mandrels, which can distort and damage the caps. Also, most automated decappers don’t define cycle limits for tube tightness and aren’t designed to control the tightness of each tube individually. Consequently, the potential for sample loss and contamination is increased, which can further affect sample viability and concentration, thereby compromising the integrity of any resulting data.


The Capit-All IS automated capper/decapper.

Solution: One way to improve sample integrity and alleviate contamination concerns is to ensure the application of optimal torque to each tube as well as to maintain a clean environment for the tubes when open. As such, the Thermo Scientific and The Automation Partnership (TAP) Capit-All® IS has been designed to de-cap and re-cap an entire rack of samples in less than ten seconds, tightening each tube to its optimal torque at the push of a button. Every tube is individually sealed by its own separate clutch mechanism to a pre-optimized tightness, ensuring secure capping. Furthermore, a novel sealing mechanism prevents the occurrence of cross threading and over tightening, ensuring that all samples are contained within airtight tubes. The decapper is guaranteed to process over one million samples before service maintenance is required.

Distortion or damage to the caps after repeated use is prevented via the incorporation of plastic mandrels that fit perfectly into the recesses of the cap. Particulates caused by distortion are eliminated. The lifespan of the tubes and caps is maximized, and sample integrity is effectively maintained. What is more, the Capit-All IS successfully eliminates the risk of RSI, while significantly increasing throughput. With the capability to seal all 96 tubes simultaneously, for fast, quality capping, researchers can effectively integrate the instrument with automated liquid handling platforms to streamline their workflows for an efficient, highthroughput experiment.

In addition to optimally tightening caps to minimize exposure to external conditions, sample integrity is further maintained through a number of contamination control measures. An easy-to-clean drip tray captures and contains sample droplets, significantly reducing the potential for cross-contamination during tube entry and removal from the instrument. Furthermore, no disassembly is required for routine cleaning and maintenance, reducing the possibility of contamination from debris and other external sources. The incorporation of an extraction port also ensures that any aerosols or particulates that are present within the instrument are completely removed.

For further information, please visit www.thermoscientific.com/matrix.

Capit-All IS is a registered trademark of The Automated Partnership.

Categories: How it Works

Published In

Q is for Quality Magazine Issue Cover
Q is for Quality

Published: May 1, 2010

Cover Story

Q is for Quality

Despite the vigilance of federal, state and local regulators and of accreditation organizations that evaluate and certify laboratories, the development and maintenance of quality in laboratories are constant concerns.