Diagnostics laboratories are currently faced with the challenge of managing ever greater volumes of specimens. The new modular dispense head from Festo simplifies and speeds up the processing of samples. Combined with compact kinematics, highly precise, functional system solutions can be implemented easily.
From pre-analytics and analytics, right on up to post-analytics, the requirements for specimen processing are increasing in the field of sample handling. Flexibility and high levels of precision, even with very small dosing volumes, as well as high degrees of reliability and reproducibility are in demand. Clinical and medical laboratories can significantly increase their efficiency through the use of modern, automated dispensing systems. Modularity also plays a decisive role in this respect. Standardized but nevertheless highly flexible solutions, such as the combination of the dispense head VTOE and the planar surface gantry EXCM from Festo, permit specimen processing which is fully matched to the individual needs of the laboratory. The time to market from initial concept to the finished automation solution is shortened and R&D costs reduced.
Flexible, precise liquid handling
With up to eight dispense heads, Festo’s dispense head VTOE permits a broad range of applications for precision dispensing of various liquids and filling volumes. Offering flexibility, and reproducibility of pressure and opening times, the VTOE can implement innumerable defined dosing quantities. Thanks to its compact add-on dimensions, numerous possibilities present themselves, from the single-channel VTOE, e.g. to produce dilutions, for admixing nutrient solutions or for dosing reagents, right on up to the 8-channel dispense head VTOE-8 which is ideally laid out for dosing liquids in microplates. The channels can be ideally balanced to one another by means of individual control to assure greatest possible accuracy. In order to attain maximum levels of integration density, the dispense head VTOE with manifold duct plates is available in either polycarbonate (PC) or PEEK. In the standardized version, both variants are equipped with three dispensing tips with different inside diameters ranging from 0.32 to 1.0 mm. This assures variable dosing volumes and flow rates.
Maximum accuracy for reliable results
The dispense head VTOE offers excellent precision and enables a multitude of specific dosing volumes as a function of pressure and opening time. This ensures maximum flexibility. The precision of the dispense heads is made apparent by a typical variation coefficient of less than 1% within a range of 10 to 1000 µl, and outstanding linearity.
The dispense heads are moved reliably and accurately by the electrically powered planar surface gantry EXCM. The handling unit was developed for loads of several hundred grams. It quickly and efficiently covers work spaces of up to 360 x 700 mm. The electric axis EGSK provides the dispense head with strokes of up to 100 mm. Stepper motors, motor controller and a multi-axis controller round out the kinematics. The microplates are moved by means of an integrated gripper. Exact test and measurement results are made possible by the Festo vision system and a large selection of sensors.
Individually conceptualized and shipped ready-to-install
In order to efficiently avoid cross-contamination and to maximize rinsability, the new modular dispense head VTOE is based on media-isolated solenoid valves VODA with minimal internal volume. The ready-to-install module solution with its high degree of individualized flexibility opens up innumerable possibilities for system solutions. This applies in particular to combinations including other Festo kinematics solutions, as well as to controlling gases and compressed air for the pressure-driven conveyance of liquids.
In accordance with the collaborative engineering approach, Festo addresses the customer’s specific questions individually and finds the right solution. Mutual development of an initial fluid handling concept together with the customer is followed by the production of a 3D model. Festo then fabricates a prototype and goes through it in detail with the customer. Festo finally delivers the ready-to-install solution. And thus, Festo’s new liquid handling unit lays the foundation for demanding tasks in laboratory automation quickly, reliably and accurately. This approach allows the customer to concentrate on their core business while leaving the engineering and development to Festo. Time-to-market can therefore be significantly reduced.
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