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Ergonomic pipetting of a 384-well plate – How to get the gain without the pain

Dr. Stefanie Rösel Lab Academy

Higher effort, more concentration, more mistakes, irregularly sitting or dropping off tips. Switching from 96 wells to a 384-well plate doesn't feel like a piece of cake. Find out how you can create ergonomic and stress-free working conditions to pipette 384 wells with precise comfort and less mistakes!

Lab Evolution – from reasonable 96 to tiny 384 wells

High-throughput and small sample sizes. Today's lab life is consistently undergoing evolution. And according to the nature of evolution, it unceasingly presents us with new challenges. Where 25 years ago it was state of the art to work in the 96-well format, many laboratories are now switching to 384-well plates. This decision is not always an easy one, though the advantages are obvious. As wells getting smaller and more numerous, superior concentration and patience is mandatory to ensure precise and safe work with reproducible results. Handling and performance of pipetting equipment can then quickly become a time-consuming and cumbersome feat of strength.

Cumbersome pain, no easy gain

“Alternate well pipetting” with 8 or 12-channel pipettes is a common method for loading the 384 tiny wells. Since only every second well can be equipped at the same time, this method is error-prone and tedious. This dilemma is usually topped with tips which are not aligned in a row or even fall off. The only chance to get tips appropriately attached, is “rocking & banging”. Frequently done, this is far away from ergonomic work. Getting rid of them is similarly laborious. Have you ever had to use both hands for ejection? The matters are easy to understand: More pipette cones, more attachment and more ejection forces.

How to ease your life and enjoy peace of mind

Creating ergonomic and comfortable working conditions will help you to reduce operating forces, keep the focus and do less mistakes:

  • Use 16 and 24-channel instead of 8 and 12-channel pipettes

Make your life easier and avoid “alternate well pipetting” with 16 and 24-channel pipettes. By using 24-channel pipettes you can fill a 384-well plate within a minute. 24-channel electronic pipettes with dispensing mode can give you extra convenience. ( )

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  • Use 16- or 24-channel pipettes
Avoid tedious, time-consuming and error-prone “alternate well pipetting”. With 16- or 24-channel pipettes you can fill a 384-well plate with less pipetting steps within a minute. Complete columns or rows can be easily processed, protecting you from accidental well misidentification and repeating of experiments. Faster plate loading will also allow to keep equal starting conditions for your reactions.

  • Tip fit

Use tips with features that ensure a perfect tip-to-cone fit. For example, elastic forming groves allow the tips to stretch as much as necessary to enable a perfect seal. Tips become easily attachable and ejectable, fit reliably and your operating forces are reduced.

  • No more “rocking & banging”
Pipette tip cones with haptic feedback indicate a safe tip fit. There’s no need for rocking and banging anymore.

  • Successive tip ejection
Use multichannel-pipettes with successive tip ejection. During a single tip ejection stroke, the outside tips eject before the inside tips. This will significantly reduce your operating forces.

  • Optimized tips for 384-well plates

Optimized tips for 384-well plates will increase tip fit and tightness and will facilitate a straightforward and safe plate loading. Tips and cones should build a perfect system. Look for tips that are precisely adapted to the shape of the cones. Perfectly aligned (coaxial) and fine shaped tips will simplify to hit the tiny wells and ensure safe plate maneuverings and liquid transfer. Work with tip suppliers who guarantee minimum production tolerances and a constant quality.

Don't let your equipment limit you to perform ergonomic and comfortable quality work!

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