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How a Dispensing and Diluting System Works

Problem: Preparing samples for analysis can be a tedious, time-consuming process that is often seen as too small to automate.

by Hamilton Company
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Problem: Preparing samples for analysis can be a tedious, time-consuming process that is often seen as too small to automate. In a wide range of industries including environmental, forensic toxicology, mining and metals and food and beverage, concentrated samples must be diluted prior to analysis by techniques such as HPLC, GC, AA or ICP. Sample prep is traditionally carried out manually, using handheld air displacement pipettes or syringes and volumetric glassware, and these techniques have a number of drawbacks including time requirements, sample waste and variations in accuracy.

With traditional air displacement pipettes, compressible air is trapped in the fluid path. When liquid is moved into the path, this air is compressed, causing results that vary with atmospheric conditions, sample viscosity, and the operator’s technique. Accuracy therefore varies from user to user. Volumetric glassware must be cleaned between uses, which takes time. As is the case with every analytical process, lab managers are looking for ways to improve results and save time and money.

Solution: The Hamilton Microlab 600 was designed to carry out a range of dispensing and diluting routines in the lower throughput lab. With a positive displacement pump that functions independently of solution viscosity and atmospheric pressure, the Microlab 600 is one sample prep option that can be used by multiple analysts for a range of routines, delivering consistent, accurate volumes. The positive displacement system delivers better than 99 percent accuracy.

The Microlab 600 positive displacement system is primed with liquid that is not compressible, so each time the syringe aspirates or dispenses the liquid is accurately measured.

The system’s dual syringe diluter configuration uses two syringes to create up to a 1:50,000 dilution in a single step, reducing preparation time and wasted buffer. The diluent washes the tubing between each sample, minimizing carryover. Hamilton’s proprietary Bubble Free Prime (BFP) syringes eliminate trapped air bubbles and solvent to speed priming and solvent changes, while a universal valve enables users to quickly switch from one task to another with minimal downtime.

The Microlab 600 controller integrates a streamlined user interface with a large touchscreen display. Dilutions, dispenses, titrations and more are visually displayed in real time with the touch of a button. A package of compliance features for labs in regulated environments, such as forensics and pharmaceutical, includes method logging with electronic signature capability, password protection and the ability to print documentation. These functions are tamper-evident for additional security and adhere to 21 CFR Part 11 and FDA GLP/GMP requirements. The most recent Microlab 600 software, which is field-upgradable and included in all new instruments, is now available in ten languages.

A recent comparative study demonstrated measurable cost savings using the Microlab 600 compared to volumetric glassware and pipettes. The Microlab 600 is roughly four times faster than volumetric glassware and uses just one-tenth the reagent. Cost savings compared with air displacement pipettes are not as dramatic, but accuracy and consistency are higher. The precision meets or exceeds that of Class A glassware, especially when operator variability is considered.

The easy-to-use Microlab 600 is an option that delivers a basic level of automation, along with a combination of technologies that can improve analytical sample preparation while reducing costs.

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Hamilton Company’s Microlab 600 Dual Syringe Diluter.