The instruments we engineer at Gener8 are designed to replicate biotechnology functions quickly and accurately. Many of these biotech processes require the use of reagents in precise and varying amounts to aid in a particular reaction to test or detect a critical parameter. To develop and execute these recipes, scientists will use pipettes to aspirate their samples into vials and vortex mixers to combine them. Early stage automation of such a process may involve the use of a syringe pump in conjunction with a series of valves and tubing. We specialize in developing and manufacturing these instruments and approach the initial stage by rapid prototyping proof of concept devices to get a functioning model in clients’ hands as quickly as possible.
However, this approach typically involves copious amounts of tubing which can drastically increase assembly time and would require rigorous testing to demonstrate the integrity of all the connections, which are potential failure or leak points. Gener8 has developed deep expertise in designing custom manifolds, both for air and liquid, that integrate the necessary valves and sensors into a modular subassembly. These custom manifolds eliminate a large bulk of tubing, dramatically reduce the number of failure points, and provide a manageable subassembly to test and qualify. This high level of integration aids the manufacturing workflow and offers high confidence in the lower level subassemblies before integration into a more complex system.
For example, our mechanical engineers designed a custom pneumatic manifold for a customer who required 4 reagents to be loaded into their chip prior to analysis. Their process dictated the need for very precise nano-flow control over one of the critical reagents. The pneumatic manifold we designed pressurized the reagent vessels to load the reagents into the chip which were then sprayed from the chip at a rate of ~1 uL/min. By changing 1 component in the manifold, this design also provides our customer the flexibility to vary the flow rate by an order of magnitude lower or higher if required. This highly integrated custom design offers both the flexibility to the developing nature of a nascent process and the ability to tailor the design of the instrument to the requirements of the process without added cost or complexity of assembly and testing.
Gener8 has developed a strong expertise in engineering and prototyping these manifolds quickly for proof of concept and early breadboard usage. This enables our customers to grow familiar with the operating parameters of their instrument as well as open new opportunities to rapidly test and iterate to optimize their biotech process. Typically, all or most of this instrument design can be carried forward into the final product to preserve the flexibility, but also ensure the robustness of a well characterized system.