Top 7 Questions You Should Ask When Buying an Automated Liquid Handler
- What kind(s) of dispensing technology is used? Peristaltic pump dispensing offers low prime volumes and backflushing; microprocessor- controlled syringes have fast output and high precision. Hybrid detection systems combine both technologies in one and can even add washing functions.
- Is plate handling automatable? Manual plate handling can slow productivity. Automating the process with a compatible microplate stacker increases throughput with walk-away operation.
- Can it accommodate magnetic or plastic bead-based assays? If using bead-based assays, it should be equipped with appropriate magnets or vacuum filtration for critical wash steps.
- What is the volume range, and how many different sample vessel types may be used?
- Ask about the software—is it integrated and user-friendly? Does it allow for pre-programmed and custom protocols?
- What is the flow rate spectrum? A wide flow rate spectrum allows use with sensitive cell-based assays to viscous liquids.
- What assay validation data is available for this specific liquid handler? This provides proof that the instrument performs as indicated.
Types of automated liquid handling systems used by survey respondents:
|Individual benchtop workstations||59%|
|Self-contained multi instrument systems||27%|
Applications for automated liquid handling systems as reported by survey respondents:
|Whole genome amplication||7%|
|High-density array printing||5%|
Nearly 56% of respondents are engaged in purchasing a new automated liquid handling system. The reasons for these purchases are as follows:
|Addition to existing systems, increase capacity||
|Replacement of an aging system||
|First time purchase||
|Setting up a new lab||
Top 10 features/factors respondents look for when purchasing an automated liquid handler:
|Accuracy and precision for a wide range of compatible fluids||83%|
|Safe sample handling - No cross-contamination||83%|
|Maximum operator safety||58%|
|Maintenance/service/availability of accessories and replacement parts||57%|
|Sample tracking – automated recording and sample data documentation with a choice of bar code reader options||46%|
|Ability to expand on instrument as requirements change||42%|
|Pipetting flexibility - Pipette with 384, 96, 24, 16, 12, or 8 tips||40%|
|Size – small footprint||30%|
For more information on liquid handlers, including useful articles and a list of manufacturers, visit www.labmanager.com/liquid-handling
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