Fast and efficient automated sample transfer from tubes to plates with the ASSIST PLUS pipetting robot

  • Fast and efficient automated sample transfer from tubes to plates with the ASSIST PLUS pipetting robot

    Streamline your sample reformatting

    When processing samples in tubes, transfers are often performed manually with a single channel pipette. This is time consuming, error prone and draining for the operator. The ASSIST PLUS pipetting robot – in combination with a VOYAGER adjustable tip spacing pipette – provides a novel solution for accurate and efficient transfer of liquids to and from a variety of tube types. This unique pipetting robot provides all the benefits of the VOYAGER's adjustable tip spacing – reformatting samples from tube to plate up to 12 times faster compared to using a single channel pipette – as part of a walk-away, automated protocol.

  • Table of contents

    When processing samples in tubes, transfers are often performed manually with a single channel pipette. This is time consuming, error prone and draining for the operator. The ASSIST PLUS pipetting robot – in combination with a VOYAGER adjustable tip spacing pipette – provides a novel solution for accurate and efficient transfer of liquids to and from a variety of tube types. This unique pipetting robot provides all the benefits of the VOYAGER's adjustable tip spacing – reformatting samples from tube to plate up to 12 times faster compared to using a single channel pipette – as part of a walk-away, automated protocol.

Key benefits

  • When using the ASSIST PLUS, the right sample is always transferred to the right well, eliminating the chance of human errors.
  • INTEGRA's extensive range of tube racks, with the option to place labware in either landscape and portrait orientations, ensures the highest degree of versatility for sample transfers.
  • Automated transfer of hazardous samples using the ASSIST PLUS protects operators from potential exposure to harmful substances, while extending walk-away times.
  • The VOYAGER adjustable tip spacing pipette can be equipped with 300 µl LONG GripTips to avoid the risk of cross contamination by touching the wall of long tubes.

Overview: How to transfer samples from tubes faster

In this application note, we show six examples of different sample transfers from either tubes to a plate, or from tubes to tubes (See Figure 1):

  1. Transfer from 0.5 ml microcentrifuge tubes to a 96 well plate.
  2. Transfer from 1.5 ml microcentrifuge tubes to HPLC vials.
  3. Transfer from cryogenic vials to a 96 flat bottom plate.
  4. Transfer from swab tubes to 96 deep well plate.
  5. Transfer from test tubes to 96 deep well plate.
  6. Transfer from 15 ml centrifuge tubes to 96 deep well plate.

 

Schematic of six different examples for transferring samples from and to different labware.
Figure 1: Six example sample transfer procedures.

Downloads: App note and protocols for fast and efficient automated sample transfer from tubes to plates with the ASSIST PLUS pipetting robot

Here you can download the complete protocols used in this application and use them on your ASSIST PLUS. The protocol can be customized with the VIALAB software.

Step-by-Step Procedure:

1. Transfer from microcentrifuge tubes

Sample transfer for qPCR analysis from 0.5 ml microcentrifuge tubes to a 96 well PCR plate placed on a cooling block

Place the INTEGRA rack for 0.5 ml microcentrifuge tubes on deck position B, and load with microcentrifuge tubes containing the samples for qPCR (Figure 2, blue). Next, place the INTEGRA cooling block on position C, and place a 96 well PCR plate with the qPCR master mixes onto the cooling block (Figure 2, green).

Select and run the VIALAB program 'Transfer_from_microcentrifuge_tubes' using an 8 channel 12.5 µl VOYAGER pipette equipped with 12.5 µl Sterile Filter GripTips. The pipette transfers eight 2.5 µl samples to the PCR plate in parallel. A 0.5 µl pre- and post-dispense ensures precision while pipetting, and the tips are automatically changed after each dispense to avoid cross contamination.

After completing the sixth dispense step, the ASSIST PLUS informs the operator to change the sample rack. With six further aspirations and dispenses, sample transfer into the 96 well PCR plate is complete.

Tip:

  • The procedure parameters are easily modified in the VIALAB software as required. If the sample volume for qPCR is different, this can also be set up rapidly with ease.
Graphical representation of the ASSIST PLUS pipetting robot deck set-up with INTEGRA rack for 0.5 ml microcentrifuge tube, a 96 well PCR plate placed on INTEGRA cooling block and the VOYAGER pipette.
Figure 2: Deck set-up for sample transfer from 0.5 ml microcentrifuge tubes to a 96 well PCR plate placed on a cooling block. A: Empty. B: INTEGRA rack for 0.5 ml microcentrifuge tubes (blue). C: 96 well PCR plate placed on INTEGRA cooling block (green).

2. Transfer to HPLC vials

Sample transfer from 1.5 ml microcentrifuge tubes to HPLC vials

Place the INTEGRA rack for 1.5/2 ml microcentrifuge tubes on deck position B, then fill with sample tubes (Figure 3, blue). Next, place the INTEGRA rack for HPLC tubes on deck position C (Figure 3, magenta).

Select the VIALAB program 'Transfer_to_HPLC_vials' and press Run. Using an 8 channel 300 µl VOYAGER pipette with 300 µl Sterile Filter GripTips, the system transfers 200 µl samples from the microcentrifuge tubes to the HPLC tubes for analysis. A 15 μl pre- and post-dispense step is used to increase the accuracy and precision of pipetting.

Tip:

  • The pre- and post-dispense volume should be 3-5 % of the nominal pipette tip volume.
Graphical representation of the ASSIST PLUS pipetting robot deck set-up with INTEGRA rack for 1.5 ml microcentrifuge tube, an INTEGRA rack with HPLC tubes and the VOYAGER pipette.
Figure 3: Set-up for sample transfer from 1.5 ml microcentrifuge tubes to HPLC vials. Position A: Empty. Position B: INTEGRA rack for 1.5/2 ml microcentrifuge tubes (blue). Position C: INTEGRA rack for HPLC tubes (magenta).

3. Transfer from cryogenic vials

Sample transfer from cryogenic vials to a 96 well flat bottom plate

Place INTEGRA cryogenic vial racks containing the samples to be transferred for analysis on deck positions A and B (Figure 4, blue), then set a 96 well flat bottom plate on position C (Figure 4, magenta).

Select and run the VIALAB program 'Transfer from cryogenic vials' on the pipette. An 8 channel 300 µl VOYAGER pipette fitted with 300 µl Sterile Filter GripTips then transfers 200 µl samples from cryogenic tubes to 96 well flat bottom plate, changing the tips after each transfer. A 15 μl pre- and post-dispense step is included to increase the accuracy and precision of pipetting.

Graphical representation of the ASSIST PLUS pipetting robot deck set-up with INTEGRA rack for cryogenic vials, a 96 well flat bottom plate and the VOYAGER pipette.
Figure 4: Example set-up for sample transfer from 96 cryogenic vials to a 96 well flat bottom plate. Position A: INTEGRA rack for cryogenic tubes (blue). Position B: INTEGRA rack for cryogenic tubes (blue). Position C: 96 well flat bottom plate (magenta).

4. Transfer from swab tubes

Sample transfer from swab tubes, to 96 deep well plate

First, place an INTEGRA swab tube rack containing the patient's samples on deck position B (Figure 5, blue) and an empty 96 deep well plate on deck position C (Figure 5, magenta).

Select and run the VIALAB program 'Transfer_from_swab_tubes'. A 6 channel 1250 µl VOYAGER pipette with 1250 µl Sterile Filter GripTips aspirates 1000 µl sample from the swab tubes, then dispenses into the 96 deep well plate. Tips are automatically changed between samples to avoid cross contamination. A 25 µl pre- and post-dispense is also set to ensure accurate and precise liquid handling, even if the preservation medium tends to form bubbles during pipetting. After filling the first six columns of the 96 deep well plate with samples, the pipette informs the operator to change the swab tube rack. The VOYAGER then continues to fill the second half of the 96 deep well plate with samples.

Tip:

  • A 25 µl air gap has been set at the end of the aspiration to eliminate the risk of cross contamination.
Graphical representation of the ASSIST PLUS pipetting robot deck set-up with INTEGRA rack for swab tube, a 96 dee well plate and the VOYAGER pipette.
Figure 5: Deck set-up for sample transfer from swab tubes to 96 deep well plate. Position A: Empty. Position B: INTEGRA rack for swab tubes. Position C: 96 deep well plate.

5. Transfer from test tubes

Sample transfer from 5 ml test tubes to a 96 deep well plate

First, put two INTEGRA 5 ml test tube racks with samples on deck positions A and B (Figure 6, blue), and an empty 96 deep well plate on position C (Figure 6, magenta). For this application, use an 8 channel 1250 µl VOYAGER pipette with 1250 µl Sterile Filter GripTips.

Select the custom VIALAB program 'Transfer_from_test_tubes' on the pipette, and press Run. The pipette transfers 1000 µl of each sample from the test tubes to the 96 deep well plate after mixing three times.

Tip:

  • Proper mixing of samples prior to transfer can be critical for certain sample types. The mixing volume, speed and number of cycles can be easily set up in the VIALAB program.
Graphical representation of the ASSIST PLUS pipetting robot deck set-up with INTEGRA rack for 5 ml test tube, a 96 deep well plate and the VOYAGER pipette.
Figure 6: Deck set-up for sample transfer from 5 ml test tubes, to a 96 deep well plate. Position A: INTEGRA rack for 5 ml test tubes (blue). Position B: INTEGRA rack for 5 ml test tubes (blue). Position C: 96 deep well plate (magenta).

6. Transfer from centrifuge tubes

Sample transfer from 15 ml centrifuge tubes to a 96 deep well plate

Equip the ASSIST PLUS with a 6 channel 1250 µl VOYAGER pipette using 1250 µl Sterile Filter GripTips. Place an INTEGRA 15 ml centrifuge tube rack on deck position B (Figure 7, blue), and load all the sample tubes into the rack. Place an empty 96 deep well plate, in portrait orientation, on deck position C (Figure 7, magenta).

Choose and run the VIALAB program 'Transfer_from_centrifuge_tubes' on the VOYAGER pipette. Samples in the centrifuge tubes are mixed three times, then 1000 μl of each sample is transferred to the deep well plate.

Tip:

  • The tip travel function is used during the mixing steps to optimize tip immersion depth.
Graphical representation of the ASSIST PLUS pipetting robot deck set-up with INTEGRA rack for 15 ml centrifuge tube, a 96 deep well plate and the VOYAGER pipette.
Figure 7: Set-up for sample transfer from 15 ml centrifuge tubes to a 96 deep well plate. Position A: Empty. Position B: INTEGRA rack for 15 ml centrifuge tubes (blue). Position C: 96 deep well plate (magenta).

Remarks:

VIALAB software

The VIALAB programs can be easily adapted to your specific  protocols.

Partial plates

Programs can be easily adapted to accommodate different number of samples, providing complete versatility to meet current and future laboratory workflow demands.

Conclusion

  • The ASSIST PLUS pipetting robot, equipped with a VOYAGER adjustable tip spacing pipette, is the perfect solution to precisely transfer samples to and from different tube types, without the risk of transcription errors.
  • The VOYAGER adjustable tip spacing pipette enables processing of multiple tubes in parallel, and is available with various channel options and volumes. This allows the user to pipette to the tube or plate of their choice, speeding up the transfers.
  • The preprogrammed automated protocols provide simple, fast and ready-to-use solutions for six possible sample transfer processes to maximize walk-away time.
  • If sterile conditions are required during sample transfer, the compact overall size and footprint of the ASSIST PLUS mean it can be placed in a laminar flow hood.
  • The ASSIST PLUS is indispensable for users wishing to increase their throughput in sample processing.

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  • Éva Mészáros, PhD

    Application Specialist

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Instruments and accessories

ASSIST PLUS, Pipetting Robot VOYAGER, 8 Channel, 12.5 µl VOYAGER, 8 Channel, 300 µl VOYAGER, 6 Channel, 1250 µl VOYAGER, 8 Channel, 1250 µl GripTip, 12.5 µl, Sterile, Filter (for automation systems) GripTip, 300 µl, Sterile, Filter (for automation systems) GripTip, 1250 µl, Sterile, Filter (for automation systems) Rack for 1.5/2 ml microcentrifuge tubes Rack for 0.5 ml microcentrifuge tubes Rack for 15 ml centrifuge tubes, 4x6 tubes Rack for 5 ml test tubes, 6x8 tubes Rack for cryogenic tubes, 6x8 tubes Rack for 2 ml HPLC vials Rack for swab tubes COPAN: Swab tubes Greiner Bio-One: Masterblock, 96 well, 2 ml, V-bottom Greiner Bio-One: CRYO.S, 2 ml PCR 96 well cooling block Greiner Bio-One: CRYO.S, 2 ml Greiner Bio-One: 96 Well Microplate, PS, F-Bottom Greiner Bio-One: Reaction Tube, 1.5 ml, PP, Natural, Attached Cap Greiner Bio-One: Reaction Tube, 0.5 ml CARL ROTH: Sample vials ROTILABO® Greiner Bio-One: Sapphire microplate, 96 well, PP Greiner Bio-One: Tube, 5 ml, PS VWR: Centrifuge tubes, Sterile, PP

ASSIST PLUS, Pipetting Robot

INTEGRA has developed the ASSIST PLUS pipetting robot to streamline routine pipetting tasks at an affordable price. Using INTEGRA electronic multichannel pipettes, the system:

  • automates pipetting tasks,
  • eliminates physical strain and
  • ensures superior reproducibility and
  • error free pipetting.

Part No. 4505

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ASSIST PLUS Pipetting Robot

VOYAGER, 8 Channel, 12.5 µl

VOYAGER pipettes allow the tip spacing to expand anywhere between 4.5 mm and 33 mm at the push of a button.

  • Single handed operation leaves the other hand free to handle labware.
  • On the fly access to up to 3 user-defined tip spacings.
  • These user defined tip spacings are saved. No need to memorize spacings of different labware formats.

Part No. 4721

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VOYAGER adjustable tip spacing pipette

VOYAGER, 8 Channel, 300 µl

VOYAGER pipettes allow the tip spacing to expand anywhere between 4.5 mm and 33 mm at the push of a button.

  • Single handed operation leaves the other hand free to handle labware.
  • On the fly access to up to 3 user-defined tip spacings.
  • These user defined tip spacings are saved. No need to memorize spacings of different labware formats.

Part No. 4743

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VOYAGER, 8 channel series

VOYAGER, 6 Channel, 1250 µl

VOYAGER pipettes allow the tip spacing to expand anywhere between 4.5 mm and 33 mm at the push of a button.

  • Single handed operation leaves the other hand free to handle labware.
  • On the fly access to up to 3 user-defined tip spacings.
  • These user defined tip spacings are saved. No need to memorize spacings of different labware formats.

Part No. 4764

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VOYAGER, 6 channels, 1250μL

VOYAGER, 8 Channel, 1250 µl

VOYAGER pipettes allow the tip spacing to expand anywhere between 4.5 mm and 33 mm at the push of a button.

  • Single handed operation leaves the other hand free to handle labware.
  • On the fly access to up to 3 user-defined tip spacings.
  • These user defined tip spacings are saved. No need to memorize spacings of different labware formats.

Part No. 4724

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VOYAGER, 8 channel series

GripTip, 12.5 µl, Sterile, Filter (for automation systems)

GripTip pipette tips perfectly match the multi-lobe tip fitting, snapping firmly on during loading. This guarantees a perfect seal on every tip, preventing them from loosening, leaking or completely falling off. All tips are precisely aligned horizontally, enabling accurate touch-offs, even when pipetting with 384 tips.

Part No. 6455

Learn more about GripTips pipette tips for Benchtop Pipetting Systems
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GripTip, 300 µl, Sterile, Filter (for automation systems)

GripTip pipette tips perfectly match the multi-lobe tip fitting, snapping firmly on during loading. This guarantees a perfect seal on every tip, preventing them from loosening, leaking or completely falling off. All tips are precisely aligned horizontally, enabling accurate touch-offs, even when pipetting with 384 tips.

Part No. 6435

Learn more about GripTips pipette tips for Benchtop Pipetting Systems
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GripTip, 1250 µl, Sterile, Filter (for automation systems)

GripTip pipette tips perfectly match the multi-lobe tip fitting, snapping firmly on during loading. This guarantees a perfect seal on every tip, preventing them from loosening, leaking or completely falling off. All tips are precisely aligned horizontally, enabling accurate touch-offs, even when pipetting with 384 tips.

Part No. 6445

Learn more about GripTips pipette tips for Benchtop Pipetting Systems
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Rack for 1.5/2 ml microcentrifuge tubes

Hold up to 48 tubes on removable carriers for easy loading and storage.

Part No. 4540

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Rack for 1.5/2 ml microcentrifuge tubes

Rack for 0.5 ml microcentrifuge tubes

Part No. 4541

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Microcentrifuge tube rack fitting 0.5 ml, 1.5 ml and 2 ml tubes.

Rack for 15 ml centrifuge tubes, 4x6 tubes

This tube rack is designed to hold 15 ml centrifuge tubes in a 4x6 ANSI/SLAS format.

Part No. 4542

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Rack for 1.5/2 ml microcentrifuge tubes

Rack for 5 ml test tubes, 6x8 tubes

Rack for 5 ml test tubes (12x75 mm type), 6x8 tubes

Part No. 4543

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Tube Racks for Centrifuge Tubes, Test Tubes and Cryogenic Tubes.

Rack for cryogenic tubes, 6x8 tubes

Part No. 4544

Find out more about accessories for ASSIST PLUS
Rack for cryogenic tubes, 6x8 tubes

Rack for 2 ml HPLC vials

Part No. 4545

Find out more about accessories for ASSIST PLUS
Rack for 2 ml HPLC glass vials

Rack for swab tubes

Part No. 4546

Find out more about accessories for ASSIST PLUS
Rack for swab tubes (13x75 mm), 6x8 tubes

COPAN: Swab tubes

ESwab™ combines a COPAN-invented flocked swab with 1mL of Liquid Amies in a plastic, screw cap tube. The innovative system elutes over 90% of patient specimen into the liquid medium. The result is evidence-based, improved pathogen recovery, expanded testing capabilities, and better patient care.

Part No. 490CE.A

Source: Website supplier

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Greiner Bio-One: Masterblock, 96 well, 2 ml, V-bottom

96 Well Polypropylene MASTERBLOCK®, natural

  • Free of detectable DNase, RNase, human DNA
  • Non-pyrogenic 
  • Manufactured under DIN ISO 9001 guidelines
  • Can be traced all the way back to production through a defined LOT number system
  • Ideal microplates for storing sample material but are also ideal for cultivating bacteria or yeasts
  • Compatible with automated systems
  • Uniform external dimensions and tolerances
  • Alphanumeric well coding
  • High chemical resistance
  • High temperature resistance  (-196°C to + 121°C)
  • Sealable with adhesive films and heat sealer
  • Solid bottom
  • Well profile: V-bottom (pyramidal shape)
  • Volume: 2 ml

Part No. 780270

Source: Supplier Website

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Greiner Bio-One: CRYO.S, 2 ml

Cryo.s™ Freezing Tubes, 2 ml 

  • Free of detectable DNase, RNase, human DNA
  • Non-Pyrogenic, non-cytotoxic
  • CE-marked
  • Made of high-grade polypropylene which guarantees high thermal resistance in a temperature range from -196°C to +121°C
  • As a saftety precaution Cryo.s™ should be stored in a freezer or exclusively in the gas phase over the liquid nitrogen
  • Suitable for shipment by air
  • Round bottom
  • Working volume: up to 2.2 ml
  • Diameter: 12.5 mm; total height incl. lid: 47 mm
  • With starfoot base and external thread
  • With red screw cap
  • With white, scratch-resistant writing area
  • Sterile 
  • With 150 inserts per case (for additional labelling on the cap)
  • Additional inserts Cat.-No. 304 171 (50 pieces per bag)

Part No. 126280

Source: Supplier Website

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PCR 96 well cooling block

Aluminium 96 and 384 well PCR cooling blocks that keep reagents chilled during sample preparation in a PCR plate. The cooling blocks feature a SBS footprint.

Part No. 6250

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PCR cooling block

Greiner Bio-One: CRYO.S, 2 ml

Cryo.s™ Freezing Tubes, 2 ml 

  • Free of detectable DNase, RNase, human DNA
  • Non-Pyrogenic, non-cytotoxic
  • CE-marked
  • Made of high-grade polypropylene which guarantees high thermal resistance in a temperature range from -196°C to +121°C
  • As a saftety precaution Cryo.s™ should be stored in a freezer or exclusively in the gas phase over the liquid nitrogen
  • Suitable for shipment by air
  • Round bottom
  • Working volume: up to 2.2 ml
  • Diameter: 12.5 mm; total height incl. lid: 47 mm
  • With starfoot base and external thread
  • With red screw cap
  • With white, scratch-resistant writing area
  • Sterile 
  • With 150 inserts per case (for additional labelling on the cap)
  • Additional inserts Cat.-No. 304 171 (50 pieces per bag)

Part No. 126280

Source: Supplier Website

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Greiner Bio-One: 96 Well Microplate, PS, F-Bottom

SAPPHIRE MICROPLATE, 96 WELL, PP, FOR RT PCR, WHITE, HALF-SKIRT, FOR LIGHT CYCLER, 10 PCS./BOX

Source: Website Greiner Bio One

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Greiner Bio-One: Reaction Tube, 1.5 ml, PP, Natural, Attached Cap

  • Free of detectable DNase, RNase, human DNA
  • Non-Pyrogenic
  • High chemical and temperature resistance
  • Volume: 1.5 ml
  • With graduation and attached cap
  • Suitable for Eppendorf

Part No. 616201

Source: Website Supplier

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Reaction tube, 1,5 ml, PP, natural

Greiner Bio-One: Reaction Tube, 0.5 ml

  • Free of detectable DNase, RNase, human DNA
  • Non-Pyrogenic
  • High chemical and temperature resistance
  • Volume: 0.5 ml
  • With attached cap
  • Suitable for Viatron

Part No. 667201

Source: Website supplier

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CARL ROTH: Sample vials ROTILABO®

Sample vials ROTILABO® with snap-on ring ND11, Clear glass, with labelling space, 1.5 ml

Part No. TY80.1

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Greiner Bio-One: Sapphire microplate, 96 well, PP

  • Free of detectable DNase, RNase, human DNA
  • Non-Pyrogenic
  • Ultra thin polypropylene for optimal heat transfer from the thermoblock to the reaction solution
  • Are particularly suited for automation
  • They are both "robot-freindly" for grippers, and have sufficient space for the application of barcodes
  • Sealable with sealers "SILVERseal™", "VIEWseal™" and "AMPLIseal™"
  • Volume per well: 0.2 ml
  • Full-skirted

Source: Website supplier

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Greiner Bio-One: Tube, 5 ml, PS

  • High clarity
  • Polystyrene is ideally suited for optical measurements as a result of its high clarity 
  • Diameter: 12 mm; height: 75 mm 
  • Nominal volume: 5 ml
  • Working volume: 4 ml
  • Appropriate grip stopper, Item No.: 303321

Part No. 115101

Source: Website supplier

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VWR: Centrifuge tubes, Sterile, PP

Centrifuge tubes, Ultra-High Performance, VWR®

These leakproof, conical bottom centrifuge tubes prevent breakage and leakage during high speed centrifugation, and are made of non cytotoxic, medical grade resin that allows users to easily see sample volume and colour.

Part No. 525-1084

Source: Website supplier

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Customer’s voice

The ASSISST PLUS is a valuable pipetting workstation that should be in every lab that values pipetting precision and accuracy. It's footprint and price makes it a great replacement for the standard rack of pipettes and allows analysts to devote more time to high value work and provides greater precision, accuracy, and consistency for repeated pipetting needs.

KERRY OLIVER, Radix BioSolutions