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Electric handling unit ensures precision and high throughput in DNA extraction

06 April 2016

Festo has developed a high level handling system for use in the new oKtopure DNA extraction robot from LGC.

oKtopure DNA extraction robot

The fully-automatic robot has been developed for plant and animal breeders, and molecular biologists who often face technical challenges when analysing DNA.

The oKtopure robot is designed to speed up breeding programs and many other molecular biological analyses. The robot allows 8 x 96 Deepwell plates to be purified in parallel, enabling up to 5,000 samples to be extracted during a normal eight-hour working day. The throughput depends on the duration of the extraction protocol as well as the starting weight or volume and the sample material itself, such as leaf or seed material. 

Requiring a high level of automation, LGC turned to Festo for its knowledge in pneumatic and electric automation technologies. The solution provided was a three-dimensional gantry handling system to meet the high levels of precision required. Liquid handling is made possible by the reliable EGC electric toothed belt axes on the X- and Y-axes, while the double Z-axis, EGSK, with spindle drive, ensures exact positioning of the dispensing head. The gantry for liquid handling is supplied as a complete system.

“We were able to adapt the handling guide precisely to the requirements of LGC’s laboratory application,” says Paul Kendall, business development manager at Festo. “The gantry is easy to commission, can be integrated quickly into machines and the pre-parameterised drive and controller package allows users to concentrate on their core competencies, without having to concern themselves with details of the automation technology.”

EGC electric toothed belt axis

The solution was delivered in a ready-to-install package, fully assembled and tested directly to the factory. The full system includes all design data on circuit programs and a comprehensive functional guarantee, which makes set up really easy.

The oKtopure robot utilises the sbeadex extraction chemistry developed by LGC, which is based on the use of magnetic particles. These particles can specifically bind nucleic acids such as DNA and allows the separation of DNA from other contaminants.

“Such a high-tech system requires a trustworthy solution. The fact that Festo could offer us a complete package consisting of hardware, software and a consultancy service is what tipped the balance in Festo’s favour,” explains, Dr. Dietrich Köster product manager at LGC. 

“Complete solutions not only ease the burden on technical personnel, they keep design and process costs low and simplify the procurement process. We took advantage of the engineering knowledge of the Festo automation specialists, which saved a great deal of time throughout the process, especially during testing and commissioning" concludes Köster.

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