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Image of 96-well plate and water drops for article on microplate washers
Published On: February 2nd, 2021

Microplate washers are often under appreciated in a lab because they do not directly produce results in an assay. However, they are an essential instrument for ensuring accurate ELISAs results, biochemical results, and other assays.

Modern microplate washers come in a range of sizes and can easily be paired with a liquid handling robot and microplate robot arm in an automated liquid handling workstation. By choosing the right automated washer, you’ll be able to improve the accuracy of your results and save time through automation. Below are the top things to look for in an automated microplate washer.

Washing Capabilities of Microplate Washers

The washing capability of a washer affects how much unbound material is left in the microplate wells are after a wash. Even low amounts of residue (in microliters) can cause higher background signals in an assay, sufficient washing is important to prevent false positives or negatives.

The residual volume can be minimized by customizing the dispensing height and the aspiration height and speed. An automated microplate washer should have the ability to create and save multiple custom dispensing and aspiration rates.

If you use bead-based assays in the lab, microplate washers can aspirate the liquid in the wells without losing the beads.

Instrument Cleaning Functions of Microplate Washer

A microplate washer produces a continuous flow of fluid when it’s used in assays. If its fluid path is not properly clean, dried buffer salts and other contaminants can build up and create blockages. This can lead to improper washing of the microplate wells and even failure in the microplate washer.

Look for washers that are easy to maintain where you can quickly remove the washing manifold and replace it with a clean one to reduce downtime. Some systems also have automated cleaning and shutdown programs to prevent blockage.

Microplate Washer User Interface

Having a straightforward user interface in your washer and automated liquid handling workstation allows you to easily set up, start, and stop your washing processes. Many washers have a touch-screen where you can program and select your prime procedures and wash procedures and commence the washers’ maintenance. Many machines can also import programs from automation software.

Automation Software for Microplate Washers

To integrate an automated microplate washer with a liquid handling robot and microplate robot, you need software compatible with all your instruments. With the right software, you can create a fully automated workflow both upstream and downstream of the washing process.

Most software, including the SoftLinx Lab Automation Software enables you to monitor and control all stages of your workflow, record data on the workflow to a shared database, and support plug-ins to work with instruments from other manufacturers.

Safety Features of Microplate Washers

Safety features are important as they can prevent instrument malfunction and contamination in the lab. Microplate washers that have sensors for the liquid level can prevent fluid from overflowing. Other features include an aerosol shield to prevent hazardous materials from escaping and a stop button for emergencies.

You should also pay attention to the safety features in the software used to automate your instruments. Standard features include support for multi-level user access and permissions, data audit trail, password encryption, and full system recovery from interruptions and unforeseen shutdowns.

Using an automated microplate washer in conjunction with liquid microplate handling systems allow you to create a fully hands-off workflow for your assays. The key to building an automated system is to consider your needs and choose the appropriate instruments to fulfill them.

Contact us at Hudson Robotics to learn more about microplate washing and handling or to find the right solution for your lab.