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Automated dispensing systems for liquid handling

BioFluidix GmbH is a spin-off from the Department of Microsystems Engineering (IMTEK) at the University of Freiburg and has extensive expertise in microfluidics. 

Founded in 2005, the company specialises in developing and manufacturing automated liquid handling devices and dispensing modules, and modifying them to suit specific customer needs. These products are used to dispense liquids contact-free in volumes ranging from a few picolitres to a couple of microlitres. Maximum functionality and precision are therefore essential, particularly in target industries such as pharmaceutical production and medical technology. As a result, the requirements placed on automated dispensing systems for miniaturised liquid handling are very high. This is why BioFluidix uses a large number of item components to build its automation systems: “We needed a construction and a corresponding platform that would enable us to combine different processes and technologies – this is where item comes into play,” says the CTO of BioFluidix. The spectrum of products item has to offer covers everything from profiles, fasteners and fastening elements from the item MB Building Kit System right through to machine enclosures and Linear Units with recirculating ball-bearing guides, guide rails and carriages. The Freiburg-based company has been working closely with item ever since its early days.

In focus – the BioSpot® workstation from BioFluidix

In addition to single-channel dispensing modules, the BioFluidix portfolio also includes a combination of different dispensing systems for liquid handling on a single automated working platform. By utilising miniaturised and optimised processes, the BioSpot® workstation makes it possible to achieve significant time and cost savings. item profiles are used for the load-bearing and functional elements, and BioFluidix makes particularly extensive use of Line X. Thanks to its elegant look and high functionality, this product line fully satisfies both customer demands and the design concept at BioFluidix: “More than anything else, the clean contours of the profiles and the timeless design of the item components speak for themselves,” explains the CTO. Line X is also ideal for applications in near-cleanroom conditions, as dirt cannot penetrate the profiles, and they are easy to clean. Their unbroken surfaces and minimised edge radius are also perfect for ensuring smooth, seamless connections.

Thanks to the item building kit system, the BioSpot® workstations can be manufactured cost-effectively. This means our models can be parameterised, and we can ensure consistent functionality and quality.

Operational activities in the BioSpot® workstation are conducted using a linear guide, more precisely Linear Guide Rail PS 4-15 and Bearing Carriage PS 4-15. The devices are custom built and modified accordingly to suit customer requirements. The dispensing units are moved by PS 4-20 linear guide systems. These comprise Linear Guide Rails that are mounted on grooved profiles from item and are combined with the matching Bearing Carriages. The dispensing unit is attached to this PS 4-20 carriage and guided safely and precisely during the dispensing process. BioFluidix generally produces the BioSpot® workstation in different dimensions, with a fixed width and a length based on the customer’s specific requirements. This is why the guide rails of the linear guide system and the connected components must be customised as required. “Thanks to the item building kit system, these custom devices can be manufactured cost-effectively. This means our models can be parameterised, and we can ensure consistent functionality and quality,” underlines the project manager responsible.

Ordering machined components for automated dispensing systems online

However, it is not just the BioSpot® workstation that incorporates profiles, fasteners and fastening elements from item. They are also used in automated dispensing systems and devices that are manufactured to specific customer requirements and thus call for a bespoke construction. These devices can be efficiently developed and implemented to customer-specific dimensions with the help of item components. BioFluidix orders the fully configured components through the item Online Shop. Previously, the components were machined by an intermediary supplier, until this step was deemed unnecessary. Profiles with high-precision cut-offs are available in the item Online Shop and, because very narrow tolerances are reliably maintained, BioFluidix can start manufacturing the customer-specific devices as soon as they take delivery of the parts.

In item, we have found a partner that delivers orders quickly and reliably. For instance, there have been no missed deliveries or complaints in the many years we’ve been working together.

BioFluidix can plan engineering work and select components directly in the item Engineeringtool. It can then transfer the 3D data for the relevant design to its own CAD program and order the prefabricated construction kits in the Online Shop, which is linked to the item Engineeringtool. All agreements, terms and conditions are stored in the company’s online account, which speeds up order processing even more. Once an order has been placed, it only takes a few days for the prefabricated components to be delivered. For BioFluidix, it is crucial that components are delivered on time because its systems are built to order, meaning it does not hold any stock in storage. The CTO is more than satisfied with his experience so far: “In item, we have found a partner that delivers orders quickly and reliably. For instance, there have been no missed deliveries or complaints in the many years we’ve been working together.” BioFluidix is currently developing a new device in the field of microfluidics, which will once again feature item profiles.

The BioSpot® workstation automates lab processes, saving time and money.

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