Laboratory automation solution

M2-Automation GmbH

Contact-free dispensing of liquids and cell suspensions

Efficiency and automation play an important role not only in industry, but also in laboratories, universities and institutes. Often solutions are sought here that must be profitable with a batch size of 1. A case for the M2-Automation GmbH. M2 Automation is a specialist for customized laboratory automation solutions. This application example is all about micro dispensing technology. That means dispensing of smallest amounts of liquids.

The hardware

M2 relies on maintenance and lubricant-free linear room portals from igus®. Strict chemical, hygienic and high purity requirements are placed on systems and devices in the laboratory environment. The use of polymer plain bearings on all moving parts makes the portal lubricant-free and thus maintenance-free. An application of lubricants in the gantry would have been an exclusion criterion. The maintenance-free design is mandatory for all systems. A further advantage is the customization of the portal dimensions to the requirements of the designers. The low weight and a compact size, which nevertheless covers a relatively large working area, were also convincing. The room gantry also scored well in terms of economy thanks to its good price/performance ratio. At the same time, all other requirements such as positioning accuracy, speed and durability were met. The application

The aim of the development was to create a robust system that is easy to operate and reproducibly carries out the dosing process for different volumes and viscosities at an appropriate speed with the highest possible accuracy. The customized system for a customer in the field of bioanalytics and medical technology fills flexibly different filling volumes from 0.05 milliliters to 500 milliliters into different vessels automatically. Nine different bottle types are currently in use, but the selection can be expanded as required. An important decision criterion was the ratio of effective floor space to absolute system size, since space in the laboratory is usually very expensive. The external dimensions are 1,600 x 1,900 x 800 millimeters. The available working space is 1,105 x 525 millimeters. The compact filling machine is on rollers and can be moved around as required. It is controlled via an intuitive software interface, which can be operated without the need for extensive training. The system can be equipped with up to four trays. The trays are manufactured to fit the respective bottle type. This makes it possible to fill every conceivable shape of container and, if necessary, to convert them even years later with minimal effort. The positioning accuracy is +/- one millimeter. At present, up to 1,400 bottles can be filled in one machine cycle. The portal system positions the filling needle precisely into each bottle neck. Until now, the process has been carried out completely manually. The process is now more economical and the quality is assured.