Washing microplates may seem like a simple task, but depending on the application, plate type, throughput and other factors, the requirements of a plate washer needed can be dramatically different. You will find more information below about the types and characteristics of microplate washers, including:
- Type of wash head
- Type of stacker
But, in case of doubt, you can just ask our experts. We will be pleased to advise you.
Microplate washers can be classified in several different ways. The following options will be useful to decide what microplate washer to purchase:
Microplate washers by function
Most microplate washers can automate the single function of washing a microplate. They dispense a wash buffer, but the dispenser of the wash head has a relatively low precision and even worse it needs large priming volumes. This makes them a poor choice to dispense expensive reagents.
Some microplate washers are, in fact, washer-dispenser combinations. This kind of plate washers have a dedicated, high-precision dispenser channel. This does not require large volumes of reagent to be primed. All Zoom washers can be equipped with an optional Dispense Module to become high-performance washer-dispenser combinations.
Some assays, such as ELISA, involve more steps than just washing and dispensing. In many cases this means that the user has to perform all other steps manually. In order to automate the full assay, we have developed aand other assays. Because In some cases a simple ELISA washer is not enough. This kind of system can fully automate an ELISA or similar assay involving washing, dispensing, shaking, incubation and reading, from start to end.
Microplate washers by type of washing head
Strip washers normally use an 8-way manifold (less often a 12-way manifold) as a wash head, so they wash columns (or strips) one by one. This makes washing relatively slow. Strip washers are affordable instruments and often lack the functions of full-plate washers. This type of washer is often used in laboratories handling only one or a few plates per day.
High-performance microplate washers use a full plate washing head instead of a manifold. Washing 96 wells at a time is much faster than washing strips one by one and this makes a full plate microplate washer the instrument of choice for time-critical assays and high-throughput applications. Full plate microplate washers are more expensive than strip washers but have better performance and options. For example, many of them have angled dispensing tips for gentle washing of cells and are the instrument of choice for the most demanding applications. Theis a good example of full-plate washer thanks to its 96-channel wash head. The Zoom HT is also very fast needing only 17 seconds to wash a 96-well plate 3 times with 300 µL of wash buffer.
Microplate washers by stacker type
Depending on the number of plates to be processed per day it is necessary to use a stacker to stack the plates that need to be washed and supply the microplate washer.
For laboratories that only wash a few plates per day, the plates can be loaded manually and it is not necessary to use a stacker. Strip washers normally cannot use stackers, and some microplate washers are normally not connected to a stacker.
For high throughput laboratories it is necessary to use stackers so that batches of several plates can be washed unattended. Most manufacturers use external stackers that can be connected to a variety of washers or readers. Although this type of stacker is versatile, it is slow process because the plate has to be moved from the stacker to the washer and/or reader and positioned very carefully.
Stackers integrated in the main body of the washer is the fastest option. Theis the only plate washer on the market with an integrated stacker. Thanks to its single-rail design it can wash up to 150 plates per hour (3 times with 300 µL) and is the instrument of choice for high-throughput laboratories. The Zomm HT is also used by ELISA kit manufacturers and other users needing high performance washing of hundreds of microplates per day.
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