Laboratories worldwide depend on multichannel pipettes to increase throughput, and we wanted to make life easier still. Automation is clearly the answer but, with significant capital investment required, pipetting robots continued to be a pipe dream for many laboratories. We realized that scientists needed an affordable alternative, and so the INTEGRA team members put their heads together and came up with the ASSIST PLUS pipetting robot, offering streamlined, cost-effective pipetting workflows to suit most budgets.
You spoke, we listened!
We developed the original ASSIST platform to automate handheld pipetting, and it proved very popular with laboratories wanting to improve reproducibility and avoid pipetting errors. As time went on, scientists wanted to do more than just straightforward pipetting tasks in microplates. They realized the potential benefits of automated workflows and asked for a larger pipetting robot that could deliver true walkaway automation to take the strain out of even more pipetting processes and allow them to work with different types of labware. For INTEGRA, this meant developing a system that could:
- Change pipette tips automatically
- Integrate our VOYAGER electronic pipette for on-the-fly adjustment of tip spacing to allow access to tubes and multichannel plate reformatting
- Accommodate additional microplates on a larger deck
Developing ASSIST PLUS
Our team of biologists and engineers set to work, taking up the challenge of designing a fully automatic, flexible, robust and easy-to-use pipetting robot. They made changes to both the hardware and firmware of our existing electronic multichannel pipettes and the ASSIST platform, fine tuning tip loading and ejection to deliver even more robust and reliable pipetting. The range of travel was extended to accommodate a larger worktable, maintaining tight tolerances to ensure accuracy and precision when pipetting between different labware types. New PC software – VIALAB – was developed to complement the enhanced hardware, allowing rapid, intuitive set-up of more complex workflows with just a few clicks, without extensive programming knowledge. The result was ASSIST PLUS, a pipetting robot capable of automating many workflows, programmable either directly on the pipette or remotely from a PC. ASSIST PLUS has three deck positions to accommodate reagents, tubes and samples, and is compatible with numerous labware types and any of INTEGRA’s electronic multichannel pipettes, including the VOYAGER adjustable tip spacing pipette. This unique feature offers built-in longevity – simply swap in a different INTEGRA pipette to access new applications – and provides reliable, reproducible and error-free pipetting for many years to come.
Ready for the demands of the future
Pipetting applications are many and varied, and it is essential that we, as a company, maintain flexibility, continually responding to customers’ requests and changing requirements to meet their current and future needs. With laboratories moving from straightforward pipetting processes – such as plate filling – to more complex automated workflows, it is more important than ever to engage closely with our customers and fully understand their applications. By doing this, we can continue to provide the pipetting solutions scientists need, whether off-the-shelf products, bespoke adapters for specific types of labware or enhanced software.