The Drip Fellowships’ project is tasked with developing a microplate clamp and drip prevention system (MPC&DPS) for a local biotechnology company called Clickbio. The microplate clamp and drip prevention system will have to fit all of Clickbio’s SBS custom labware. ClickBio’s labware is used on many automated liquid handling workstations, such as local company Hamilton’s STAR. These instruments require consistent precision so the microplate clamp as well as the drip prevention system must be designed with a high degree of accuracy in mind. Certain chemicals handled by these machines can be sensitive to contamination or unsanitary conditions. Therefore, the development of a drip prevention system may be critical to maintaining these expensive instruments. In order for The Drip Fellowships’ design to properly function, research will be conducted on the appropriate materials that can withstand constant contact with abrasive chemicals. The collaboration with The Drip Fellowship and Clickbio will produce a microplate clamp and drip prevention system that will work with any standard SBS labware while negating accidental spillage. The drip prevention system will implement gears and springs for a fully mechanical system. There will be two overlapping plates, similar to a drawbridge, that close over the microplate when the liquid handling system is in transition. For the microplate clamp itself, The Drip Fellowship has designed a base with two clamps pushing the microplate into a corner zeropoint. This will minimize positional error by ensuring consistent positioning.
Proof of Concept
The target market for the microplate clamp and drip prevention system (MPC&DPS) are consumers of microplates and labware. While Clickbio primarily markets domestically, creation of said product would create a desire amongst customers due to the uniqueness and reliability of the products capabilities. The MPC&DPS is a specific targeted product designed to initiate a new line of available options to make automated microplate systems more accurate. The drip prevention system would prevent wasted: labor, time, money, and materials. By initiating the creation of a MPC&DPs, Clickbio will grow its line of products providing for more brand recognition and an increase in their product portfolio in the labware market. Competitors of Clickbio range from domestic companies, here in the USA, to international competition. On the global scale, the top five competitors in the Global Laboratory Information Management System Market consist of: Abbott Laboratories, LabVantage, LabWare, McKesson Corporation, and Thermo Fisher Scientific. The MPC&DPS will aid in Clickbio’s endeavor of international growth by extending their line of products offered.
Team 8 has developed a microplate clamp and drip prevention system that will be applicable to a liquid handling robot system. The design features a microplate clamp, which will securely fasten a microplate to the base plate below so that the liquid handling robot is able to fill all the wells without hitting the microplate. Also, the drip prevention system, a shield, covers the microplate while the liquid handling robot is not filling any wells to prevent any drips into wells and/or the microplate, which would cause cross-contamination and ruining the sample. The design created by team 8 is applicable to the real world through companies such as Hamilton, which does liquid sampling and testing for customers, and Clickbio, a company that sells liquid testing equipment and supplies. The system team 8 has designed will eliminate cross-contamination of samples, saving both the company and their customer time, money, effort, and resources.
Team 8 has developed two separate parts, which will perform different functions. The first part is the microplate clamp, the microplate clamp will securely fasten any SBS format microplate with a positional repeatability of 99.99%. The microplate clamp pushes the microplate into a manufactured corner, which will function as a zero or origin point for the liquid handling system. This position must be within a ± 0.05 inch diameter of the predetermined origin, the corner of the plate. Additionally, the drip prevention system must cover the microplate when the system is not in use or the liquid handling robot is not ready to distribute liquid into the wells. The drip prevention system must prevent 99.99% of cross contamination cases. The total drip prevention system must be compliant with any SBS formatted labware so that it will be attachable to most liquid handling robot systems.
Furthermore, the system must be corrosion and liquid resistant due to the nature of the laboratory samples. Therefore, the system has been made out of stainless steel and aluminum to ensure all exposed materials will not be corroded by potentially corrosive liquids. Also, the system needs to be operable in a wide range of temperatures, 32℉ to 100℉, so that the samples are not contaminated if there is an air conditioning or heating issue the system will still perform normally. The system is designed to have a life cycle of four years with yearly maintenance being imperative.
The purpose of the Microplate Clamp and Drip Prevention System is to remedy two problems relevant in automated liquid handling systems, more specifically 96-Head pipette systems. The first problem pertains to the cross contamination of samples from liquid handling robots who distribute fluids from pipettes to wells. The second problem concerns the instability of the microplates, which contain the wells that the liquid is being distributed into. Team 8 has developed a product that will drastically reduce the number of cases for contaminated samples. The drip prevention system will save companies time, money and resources specific to preparing and/or testing samples. The drip prevention system will attach to any SBS labware, thus making it implementable into any already established automated liquid handling system.
The Microplate Clamp and Drip Prevention System are designed to be two separate pieces that accomplish different functions, which will work in conjunction with each other. The microplate clamp will be manufactured in two separate, but attachable pieces. This is to aid with manufacturing practicality, affordability, and complexity. The microplate clamp will employ two hinged doors in order to push the microplate up against a feature of the plate that will function similar to an origin point. The Drip Prevention system will utilize two hinged doors sloped downward and lined with absorbent strips to absorb any drips from the pipettes. Both pieces will be set into motion by employing motors with timing belts connected to the hinges. Depiction of the Microplate Clamp and Drip Prevention system can be seen in the model below.
Team 8 is sponsored by the company Clickbio, who make smarter labware by design. As a company Clickbio operates by designing engineering solutions to problems brought to them by biotech companies.
Figure 1: Drip Prevention System with Rack and Pinion Gear system
Figure 2: Plate Clamp System with Revolving Levers
Due to the overlay time and expense of anodizing of aluminum, the prototype will first be constructed of primarily 3D printed parts. 3D printing the prototype will ensure that the geometric dimensioning and tolerancing will allow for effortless and time effective assembly. The lower horseshoe part of the assembly is removable and can be produced at varying heights to permit the prototype to be operable for varying sizes in microplates. The two side standoffs are fastened to the lower base plate. Following the upper base plate is then attached to the top of the standoffs. Ensuing this step, the lower and upper horseshoe clamping mounts are then fastened to the lower base plate at the same time. After the whole standoff is assembled, the assembly is then inverted so that the motor mounts which were both ordered, can be attached under the upper baseplate. Before the ordered motor is attached the 3D printed hook for the clamping system must be press fitted. After the microplate clamp and standoff is assembled the drip prevention system can then be added to the prototype. First the hinges must be mounted to the upper horseshoe part and then the drip prevention doors can be fastened via the hinges. Lastly the rack and pinion system is then attached to the second motor and hinged doors. If the prototype functions correctly, the team may then decide whether or not to pursue fabricating the prototype utilizing anodized aluminum in the design so that PDS requirements are meant.
Figure 1: 3D printed base plate along with two standoffs for the microplate hold downs and drip prevention system
Figure 2: Standoff and baseplate assembled with M1x0.7 screws
Figure 3: Material related to electrical components listed from left to right/top to bottom. Arduino motor shield, Arduino Uno R3, 2x hybrid stepper motor, 2x motor mounts, 2x motor mount screw set
Figure 4: Miscellaneous items listed from top to bottom/left to right. Absorbent pads, stainless steel sheet metal, M1.6 screws, M3 screws, Loctite adhesive, Loctite threadlocker, 8x door leaf hinges, M2 screws.
Figure 5: Drip Prevention System, assembled in SolidWorks to show where each piece goes
Testing and Results
Meet the Team
Isaac Boone was born and raised in Sparks, Nevada and is a senior in mechanical engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno. Isaac currently has an internship at Hamilton Company in R&D and has had numerous design projects. One project was a drip prevention project very similar to Clickbio’s project. For this project, Isaac used a lot of similar design processes and analysis that are currently used in the capstone class. Isaac is on track to graduate in May of 2019 and plans to continue working at Hamilton while taking computer science and machining classes.
Roman Lawlor was born and raised in Reno, Nevada and is a Senior in the Mechanical engineering program at UNR. Roman hopes to make the Dean’s list in his final year at the University. Roman has aspirations to design sports equipment or construct hollywood movie sets. Roman has maintained above a 3.0 GPA throughout his academic career and achieved academic accomplishments of creating a functional hovercraft, soldering a multimeter, becoming a Solidworks certified associate, and conducting a K-12 learning project.
Kevin Porter was born and raised in Los Gatos, California and is currently a senior in mechanical engineering. His goals are to graduate and go into the automotive or aerospace industry for design or manufacturing. Kevin had an internship with a wireless communications company called 7layers over the summer where he developed skills in OTA testing for wireless devices.
Eric Simonsen was born and raised in Reno, Nevada and is in his senior year of mechanical engineering at UNR. He has had one internship during the summer of his junior year at a Taiwanese based medical manufacturing company called New Deantronics where he developed his technical skills. There he worked on the toughest project he has undertaken where he designed and tested attachments for cooperative robotic arms. Eric plans to graduate in May of 2019 and return to New Deantronics for employment.
Erik Whatley was born and raised in Grass Valley, California and is currently a senior on track to graduate in May of 2019. He has spent a majority of his educational career as an engineering tutor helping his fellow students achieve their goals. He has worked as a representative for multiple companies at events such as Grow with Google. He plans to continue to help all those in need during his journey into the future.