Automated cell dispensing

Save time, increase throughput, protect cells

Working with cell cultures is becoming increasingly important in the life science sector, whether for the development of drugs or for testing alternative forms of therapy. This also increases the demand for solutions to make handling cells and organoids more effective and efficient. Manual pipetting ties up scarce and expensive human resources. At the same time, capacity limits are quickly reached when sample quantities are large.

Automation increases productivity and efficiency

Manufacturers and research institutes can expect to gain a wide range of benefits by using automation solutions in liquid handling. A dispensing system can precisely fill the wells of large microwell plates in the shortest possible time. Specialists are relieved of repetitive tasks and then have time for value-adding work, such as analysing results or developing new test procedures. In contrast to manual pipetting workflows, the processes are completely standardised. The potential for errors is reduced as each step is carried out using a standardised approach. The closed system creates a clean environment, minimising external disturbances to the cell cultures.

Paula Marin Canibano, LifeTech application engineer in the research laboratory

Gentle handling of the cells is a must

All these factors speak in favour of a high degree of automation for handling cells and tissues, from high-throughput screenings to individual gene therapy analyses and cell culture processes. It is crucial that the process has as little impact on the viability of the cells as possible. Cells vary in size and shape and their concentration in solutions can be different. It is therefore important that parameters such as pressure and opening times can be precisely set and reproduced in automated liquid handling. This enables the loads acting on the cells, such as shear forces and pressure differences, to be monitored and minimised.

Automated cell dispensing

Festo LifeTech offers a wide range of components for a modular and flexible dispensing system based on compressed air. This allows liquids and, in particular, cell suspensions to be precisely dispensed in a gentle process. As cells are living organisms that are very strongly influenced by external conditions, the pressure used can be specifically adapted to the cell line and cell concentration.

Practical tests for the viability of cells

In collaboration with Esslingen University of Applied Sciences, Festo has tested the influence of dispensing with the pressure-controlled dispensing system from Festo on cell viability in comparison to pipetting using a manual pipette. Testing with a selected cell line has shown that the average viability of the cells was similar to that of the manually pipetted samples. That means the Festo dispensing system offers a very good basis for gentle and precise handling of cell cultures – with all the advantages of automation. Thanks to the modular design and the ability to adjust the parameters, the system can be adapted to different cell lines and cell concentrations.

About the author


Paula Marin Canibano
LifeTech Application Engineering
Festo SE & Co. KG
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January 2024

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