Measuring Microplate Volume for the Next Step of Your Assay

May 01, 2015

Sample ManagementOriginally Published on Technology Networks’ Online Blog.

Artel recently announced a strategic partnership with STRATEC Biomedical for the STRATEC Tholos technology, which measures liquid and solid contents of 96- and 384-well microplates. Under the terms of the partnership, Artel is the exclusive marketer for the technology, named the Artel VMS™ Volume Measurement System, in the US, Canada, Germany, Australia and Switzerland.

Tanya Knaide, Artel, was speaking to Ashley Board, Managing Editor for Technology Networks to discuss how the VMS improves in-line process efficiency and quality assurance in compound management and storage, whilst assessing the delivery accuracy and precision of automated liquid handlers.

AB: How did the partnership with STRATEC come about?

Tanya Knaide (TK): STRATEC has been developing innovative automation solutions for more than 30 years, with an emphasis on OEM relationships.  They invest in core technologies that have value to laboratories; however, they typically do not bring their technology directly to the marketplace. STRATEC originally developed the technology behind the Tholos volume measurement system (now called the Artel VMS) and identified Artel as a strategic partner because of our market knowledge and technical competence.  STRATEC had become acquainted with Artel through industry technical meetings and trade events, and pursued a partnership relationship. For Artel, the partnership with STRATEC has resulted in a perfect addition to our portfolio of liquid handling quality assurance products and services.

AB: Can you tell me more about the Artel VMS and some of the key applications?

TK: The VMS measures the actual liquid and solid volume of samples within 96- and 384-well microplates. By sealing and pressurizing individual microplate wells, the VMS measures the contents, down to 1 percent of the potential volume, regardless of the shape, material or color of the well. The system actually measures the displacement pressure in the wells making the technology applicable to solids, such as grain seeds, in addition to all types of liquids. The VMS is not subject to issues that can challenge optical or acoustic methods of volume measurement. The VMS is ideal for compound management and crop science laboratories that are transferring rare and expensive samples and reagents, where the known volume present in a plate is a critical piece of information.

AB: What benefits does this provide researchers?

TK: In many research processes, such as compound dilution and plate replication, success is dependent on the known liquid starting volume in each plate well. For DNA extraction, accurately identifying sample quantity allows the user to pipette exact amounts of extraction buffer into each well. In facilities where samples have been stored and may be taken in and out of storage multiple times, environmental factors may affect the total volume in the storage container. It is not uncommon to find that a storage container contains less volume than expected. The fact that the VMS provides fast, accurate, direct measurement of volumes in individual microplate wells enables experiments to be carried out more accurately and precisely. The pressure-based volume determination method requires minimal setup, no consumables and can be integrated into existing automation processes. It can be used at any point in the experimental process and is not dependent on any specific liquid handler.

AB: How does the VMS complement Artel’s current product line?

TK: Artel’s current portfolio includes systems to calibrate and verify the performance of liquid handling instruments such as automated liquid handlers and hand-held pipettes, and services to train operators and optimize device performance.  Artel systems are utilized “off- line”. In automated labs, the Artel MVS® specifically measures the volumes of aqueous and DMSO-based dye solutions that may be dispensed by virtually any liquid handler, with a high degree of accuracy and precision.  Complementary to that, the VMS targets in-process volume measurement of liquids in a plate, regardless of viscosity, as well as solids and mixtures. The VMS provides volume information at any point in the assay process, which can be used to decide whether the plate can proceed to the next step.

About the ExpertTanya Knaide

Tanya Knaide

Tanya Knaide is a scientist with over 10 years of experience in leading new product development projects, product launch campaigns and uncovering customer needs to develop innovative new products and services to satisfy them. As Product Manager at Artel, Tanya has led cross-functional and inter-organizational teams that span across R&D, engineering and marketing and ensured that development and marketing projects deliver benefits to the customer in a timely manner.