OpenWetWare:Equipment/Laboratory Automation

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Vincent 16:12, 25 May 2007 (EDT):During the last couple of months I have been evaluating some Lab Automation platforms. This page intends to list stuff I have learnt about the current technologies around. Feel free to edit its content or to add your own experience with Lab Automation equipments.

Laboratory Automation

  • What Lab Automation has to offer ?
    • Use of integrated automated/robotic equipments to perform standard wet lab protocols.
    • Possible Benefits:
      • Accuracy
      • Reproducibility and systematic approach
      • High throughput
      • No sleep/ No food needed (the last known weaknesses of PhDs/Post Docs ...)
    • Advanced integrated platform could help you to directly map your lab activities into a informatoin workflow from stocks to research findings, improving traceability and reliability.
    • Quantify and track the variability you introduce in your protocols. And consequently, you should get a better idea of the intrinsic variability of the process you observe.
    • Use a Design of Experiments approach to optimize your protocols.
    • A high level description of protocols could allow to build arepository of standard protocols (so far, each platform has it own script language).


Automated Liquid Handler

Hardware side

Pipetting technologies

  • Air based
  • Liquid based(more accurate than air based techno)
  • Features to look at:
    • liquid level detection and tracking
    • clot detection
    • washable and/or disposable probes
    • max and min volumes.
    • accuracy at different pipetting volumes.
    • ability to define liquid classes to adjust pipetting parameters to the nature of the liquid.

Gripper: Moving stuff around

  • enables you to move around tubes, plates.
  • having the ability to rotate the gripper can be a huge plus.
  • essential tool to get an integrated workflow with 3rd-party equipments (plate reader, PCR ...)

Software side


  • Managing your deck space (what is where).
  • Building your protocols (scripts)
  • System calibration


  • Software:
    • database handling (internal and external ones)
    • communication protocols: RS232, CAN, CSV files
  • Hardware:

Automation friendly equipments

  • PCR machine:
  • Plate reader:
  • Centrifuge:
  • Incubator:
  • Shakers:
  • Peltier units:

Products evaluated

  • Eppendorf
  • Perkin Elmer
  • Sias
  • Tecan