Tip changer for Multimek system

Multimek system with dual stackers
 The Beckman Multimek, with two Carl Creative stacker units.

A small biotech company had a 96-channel Multimek pipettor system.  This system was typically used for plate replication, with a set of 64 source and destination plates.  We integrated into this system two Carl Creative stacker units, which allowed users to put in a large number of source and destination plates.

However, the usage of tips was still a problem.  For some applications, the protocol could include tip washing between plates.  However, for other applications, the biology dictated that fresh tips had to be used for each plate transfer.  This necessitated that a user manually change the tip box for each plate transfer.

Beckman did not have a suitable solution to this automation problem, short of adding an expensive robotic arm to move tip boxes in and out of the tip loading position.  We decided that this was not acceptable, and therefore designed a custom solution.

First, we worked with the manufacturer of the stacker units to create a modified stacker that could accomodate the taller tip boxes.  This stacker was designed to be placed behind the Multimek, and to present the tip box on a shuttle that stopped directly behind the tip loading position on the Multimek.

CAD drawing of tip changer deviceCAD drawing of Multimek tip changing mechanism
photo of tip changer devicePhotograph of final Multimek tip changing mechanism

In parallel, we worked with a local machine shop to create a pneumatic mechanism that could move the tip box from the stacker shuttle onto the tip loading carrier.  After the Multimek used the tips and unloaded them into the tip box, the mechanism could then move the tip box back onto the stacker shuttle; the stacker could then put the used tips back into a stack, or alternatively could move the box off the end of the stacker platform into a waste bin.