Advice needed: Considering the acquisition of a system for mammalian cell culture - evaluating options such as Vantage, Biomek i7, or alternatives

Hello everyone, I am new to the forum. Our group is in the process of acquiring a system for automated mammalian cell culture and characterization, encompassing tasks such as passage, expansion, phenotyping, etc.

We have already compiled a list of supplementary apparatus that we intend to purchase, including a Liconic incubator, Cytation 5 for imaging/phenotyping, and Lonza for nucleofection, among others.

However, we are still undecided about the central component: the liquid handling system. We have narrowed down our options to two systems:

-Hamilton Vantage: The ability to have both an upper and a lower deck is appealing. Additionally, the appeal of the gripper going under the deck is heightened, especially considering our plan to incorporate integrated devices. However, there have been some concerns expressed by users regarding the gripper and the software.

-Biomek i7: This system appears to be excellent, but it has only one deck (This will necessitate the placement of integrated devices around our system), and it’s relatively new in the market.

Our budget is not a constraint, and with our coding skills, we anticipate no issues with the software aspect either.

Has anyone worked with either of these systems or comparable ones? Any recommendations based on personal experiences or insights would be highly valuable.

Thank you!


Hamilton has a lot of peripherals and equipment libraries that are relevant to mammalian cell culture, and the Vantage is very fast. Plus the ability to integrate a lot of equipment via the logistics cabinet and plate elevator is a big plus. I don’t know anything about the i7 though so I can’t make a comparison there.

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How are you looking to set up your process? Is the liquid handler going to be the brains?

If so you might look in to (and demo) the native scheduling software in Venus 6 or SAMI for Beckman and see if you have a preference there. (Or consider external scheduling software)

Once you start a program on the liquid handler you can’t kick off another one. If you have a behemoth of a protocol with hours of incubations and multiple plates to keep track of, it can get very complicated very quick in the standard liquid handling software.

edit: I’d also check in and see that the liquid handler has drivers for your devices if that’s going to be the brains. Unless you want to write them yourselves.

At some point you need to consider switching from a liquid handler with devices around it to a workcell that includes a liquid handler. A workcell would be significantly more flexible should you need to add more devices later. I also find that scripting complicated protocols is much easier with workstation schedulers that it is with liquid handler controlling software.

Also, I think you’ll find you can actually achieve what you want cheaper with a workcell if you get a small liquid handler (like an Agilent Bravo). A Vantage or i7 equipped in the manner you need will probably be $400k-$500k. You can get a base Bravo for a little more than $100k, leaving you $300k plus for the addition of a proper robot, plate storage, and controlling software.


I know of those who use the Vantage for Nucleofection and enjoy it very much. They also have an i7 but use it for other purposes, and if you are looking to create a workcell around this, I would recommend the Vantage.

You can also see from this forum that their support is excellent, hoping that helps.

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Yes, I will setup my own process. The liquid handler will be the brain. It looks like the Vantage can accommodate and run many drivers for other devices.

Thank you. Do you know if they have issue with their gripper? Right now, we are looking at it and deciding if we should put and Internal plate Gripper or just a Track gripper.

Thank you for your answer. Yes, the Vantage looks like a good candidate. We are not quite sure about the software tho. We were expecting Instinct V but apparently, there are some issues with it. It looks like people are back to Venus? And Venus 6 is not fully ready yet?

Plus, the issues with the track gripper makes it hard to decide if we should additionally put an IPG or not.

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VENUS 6 is released and is available for the VANTAGE platform. There is no future development planned for INSTINCT V.

The track gripper has had considerable improvements in its reliability and has a new calibration tool. I recommend working with the local sales team to configure the system that best accommodates your needs though. It may be that an iPG is sufficient as you can integrate to the rear of the system. The track gripper would provide more integration options though.

If you need any assistance getting in touch with your local Hamilton sales team, please let me know!