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Image of water drops for article on laboratory liquid dispensing.
Published On: November 16th, 2021

Components of a pH Meter

In 1961, J.J. Rodriguez of Berkeley, California, introduced a patent for an “improved buret.” He designed it to dispense liquids like a buret and said it will provide “a novel and improved buret capable of use in pipetting.”

Fast-forward to today. An automated liquid handling/dispensing system in the laboratory can be used for a spectrum of different scientific processes. These systems typically consist of programmable robotic arms that move samples in the lab, robotic pipettors, and microplate reagent dispensers. To ensure these instruments work seamlessly together, you use lab automation software to program each operation.

These liquid handling solutions come with a long list of benefits, including higher throughput, increased accuracy and efficiency, the liberation of personnel time, and reduced cost in the long run. In addition, the flexibility of automated liquid dispensers in laboratories makes them great core or complementary components for different kinds of processes and tasks. Read on for some functions with which you can use automated liquid handling instruments.

Automated Liquid Handling For Colony Picking

A common process that you can use an automated liquid dispenser for in the laboratory is colony picking of colonies that would be manually picked by a pipet tip. In this process, colonies are cultured on an agar plate, identified, picked and transferred into growth plates – 24, 48, 96, 384 or other density microplates with growth media pre-loaded.

A 96-well plate liquid dispenser is very handy and efficient for adding growth media into plates. The alternative is manually filling of the plates that requires precision and takes a lot more time.

Sample/Serial Dilution Liquid Handling Solutions

A lot of reagent handling is part of core assays like ELISA. For sampling or performing serial dilutions, an automated liquid handling workstation is a must in every laboratory. It frees up the hands of your personnel so they can place their focus on other tasks such as reporting and analysis.

In a similar vein, sample transfer and dispensing are involved in most biochemical processes. Again, having an automated liquid dispenser in the laboratory to handle this part of things improves accuracy and reduces the incidence of accidents which may pose occupational hazards to lab personnel.

Integration with Centrifuges & Microplate Washing

For processes such as PCR (which is used for Covid-19 testing), automated liquid handling instruments are crucial to create a high-performing end-to-end workstation that seamlessly moves through the different steps of the process. Further, these instruments can very simply be integrated with centrifuge stations to minimize human input and speed up processing.

What about an automatic laboratory liquid dispenser that can remove unbound proteins or antibodies from your microplates? These specific liquid handlers are known as microplate washers. These washers dispense wash buffer through nozzles and aspirating the wash buffer through other nozzles to thoroughly clean the wells. For high throughput processes, microplate washers are recommended to keep the process going smoothly and continuously without much downtime.

How To Choose An Automated Liquid Dispenser For The Laboratory

Choosing the liquid handling solution for your lab’s specific needs starts with first mapping out all the daily processes and identifying the right type of liquid dispenser(s) required. The right one should be able to provide:

  • The right capacity, speed, accuracy, precision, and volume that is suitable for your lab’s load
  • Ease of upgrade later on when requirements increase
  • Versatility and user-friendliness
  • Size-appropriateness; small in size if the lab has limited space for automated instruments
  • An adequate level of control/automation that matches the lab’s budget.

It’s also worth researching the after-sales service, purchase warranty, and reputation of the manufacturer you are looking to buy from. This will ensure you have a headache-free warranty claim or repair experience even if an unexpected machine failure happens.

Hudson Robotics has been around from the early 80s, innovating and manufacturing various automation hardware and software for life science labs. Automated liquid handling workstations, robots, and instruments are among Hudson Robotics’ bestsellers, so don’t hesitate to contact us today to get a quote.