Laboratory Robotics with bench-top robot arms

We are the pioneers. We have been working in laboratory robotics since 1993. Our customers include all the major pharmaceutical companies and research institutes (see customer list). We worked with everything from PCR to high throughput screening in forensic science, drug development, bacterial resistance, toxicology, stem cell research and so on. Our installations included the UK national DNA dabase. We are still here solving those difficult problems regular off-the-shelf robots can not solve.

There are now a great many choices of standard robotic equipment for handling the ubiquitous titer-plates between standard machines for liquid handling or measurement. Some are really sophisticated but basically do the same tasks. However if you need to automate something unusual, or your medium is not a titer plate, or you must work inside a fume cabinet or perhaps a lead cabinet with radio-chemicals, that is where ST robots are unique. ST robots are also chosen where sample throughput is important; they run considerably faster than most popular lab robots.

The laboratory workhorse

For most laboratory applications we recommend the R19 or where speed and thruput are important the R17HS which can run up to 10 times as fast as typical lab robots without collisions or spilling anything thanks to programmable acceleration and rate of acceleration (known as JERK). New advanced drives ensure swift smooth motion and quiet operation in the lab environment. DSP technology provides fast multi-axis compound motion plus the ability to multi-task. The robot may be mounted on a track which can be up to 4 meters long and will run at up to 2m/sec to reach multiple diverse instruments in minimum time. The R14 is a mini-Cartesian robot suitable for positioning plates under fixed positions or as a basis for similar applications such as the cool storage cabinet below.

ST robots are programmed in RoboForth II programming system which is more versatile by far than any competitive system. It is text based encouraging building block approach to programming but also easily interfaces to any other programming language such as Python, C etc.. The robot may be supervised by any computer using your own software through RS232 or TCP/IP or proprietory supervisors such as Overlord or LabView via the ActiveX modules provided. The ST robot controller will also control other devices, read and synchronise with sensors or take measurements from such as thermometers, pressure gauges, scales etc. and schedule and collect data using spreadsheet compatible files or upload to LabVIEW.

Picture Gallery

Note: Most of the pictures on this page feature the discontinued R16 cylindrical format robot but we now supply the new R19 or R17HS. Many are mounted on a track which can be up to 4 meters long.

R19 simulating micro-plate transfer
from a stack to simulated workstation.
more R19 videos here
HTS system with R16 robot
on a 5 metre track
Forensic Science DNA
(UK FSS National DNA database)

R16 robot working with Packard Plate-Trak and 2 Plate-Staks A small scale genomics system
courtesy MWG Biotech
A larger Genomics system
The robot also changes the decks on the plate sealer to accomodate different sizes of plate
A small genomics system R16 can access any instrument Peltier cooled storage device based on R14 mechanism
When the robot requires access a slot opens, then closes when the robot leaves. Cooled with Peltier diodes controlled by intelligent PID controller it will hold 0.1C and cool down to 20C below ambient.

A simple incubator modified for robotic access with a pneumatic door and pull-out shelves.
The robot pulls out the required shelf before accessing the plates. Transparent screens prevent losses while the door is open.

structural benches under construction

Articles and papers

High-throughput expression and purification of membrane proteins
EBR: Robotics in Pharmaceutical Research by David Sands
A Fully Integrated Robotic System for High Sample Throughput Within a DNA Databasing Unit
(note: The ST R16 robot is mistakenly referred to as a Hamilton ML16 robot and Roboforth is also an ST product.)
The Scientist: High Throughput Thermocyclers

You might find these links useful:
ELRIG is the European branch of the Laboratory Robotics Interest Group, founded by David Sands in 2001.