June 18, 2007

Arup Laboratories has teamed with Motoman Inc and the University of Utah’s College of Engineering to devise a one-of-a-kind automated thawing and mixing workcell.

This innovation can go a long way to improving laboratory workflow and expediting the thawing and mixing of samples.

The workcell encased in a polycarbonate safety enclosure stands approximately 6 feet 6 inches tall and includes a six-axis, robotic arm, which gathers samples as they travel across ARUP’s exclusive automated transport and sorting system. The robot places the specimens in front of high-velocity, brass nozzles.

With the determined pressure and flow of air required to correctly thaw the frozen specimens, each nozzle blows room-temperature air at a rate of two liters per minute, per specimen. The 760-nozzle deck expels a combined airflow of 1,520 liters per minute.

Air enters the standardized tube carriers through a slit normally used for bar code reading, and “wraps” around each tube, thawing it from all sides. In as little as 15 to 20 minutes and without detrimental effects on any of the analytes being tested, the specimens are thawed and await the mixing step.

In the mixing step, the robot, which can hold up to ten specimens at once, utilizes pneumatic, pressure-pin cylinders that clamp tightly on the tube caps, preventing leakage. It then smoothly rotates the samples through a 270-degree pattern, allowing the samples a thorough mixing without forming air bubbles.

For more information, visit the company’s Web site.