Maintenance Tip: Sample Preparation
Because there are so many different sample prep systems out there, it’s difficult to come up with general maintenance advice. With liquid handlers, you’ll want to regularly check and replace valves and washers and keep the system clean. With pipetting tools, O-rings may require replacement every few months, depending on frequency of use and type of liquid. In addition, a common issue with automated microplate washers is buildup of proteins and salts, which clogs equipment. The most effective way to remove this buildup is through ultrasonic cleaning.
How will the matrix of the samples influence which sample preparation instrumentation is best?
The type of sample being extracted can have an impact on the type of system being used. For instruments extracting oil- or grease-based samples, only hexane or methanol may be used. Other types of solvents have the possibility of damaging the extractors. For EPA and SPE approved extractors, all solvents can be used. If the sample matrix may change down the road, it may be wisest to go with a more robust EPA and SPE system which can handle all types of solvents.
How will reagent use (solvent) and exposure affect the type of automated sample prep system used?
The risk of being exposed to the solvents and fumes generated will impact the configuration of automated system. Inquiring whether the system has an internal fan, or a hookup which can vent out to a fume hood, is an important consideration. As the systems are typically automated as well, the handling time of solvents should be minimized throughout the extraction process.
How will changes in scope for processes affect which type of automated sample prep instrument is the best fit?
As laboratories grow, so do their processes and analytical requirements. Purchasing a robust and customizable system will help ensure that the growth process goes easily and is streamlined. Researching if the system has customizable functions, including the ability to perform R&D—and also configure new methods—is important to do before purchasing.
For more resources on sample preparation, see LabManager.com/sample-prep