Favorite Automated Incubators

Hi All! I will be helping design a larger automation system (controlled by Biosero Green Button Go scheduler software), and we would like to add a second smaller incubator (~2 stacker/44 plate capacity) for CO2/O2 applications. We already have a Liconic STX44 for standard CO2 applications that will be added into the mix as well.

I wanted to see what the community’s thoughts were on different brands. For incubators and refrigerators, I know the Cytomat series from ThermoFisher, and the STX/STR series from Liconic. I am also aware of the HighRes SteriStore/Tundrastore, but those are bigger than what I need at this point. Am I missing any?

Anybody willing to share their experiences with either? Are there any particular extra options/features that one should worry about in particular(or a feature that you regret paying extra for)? Experiences with the Liconic “Liconel” or " n-Way Decontamination" vs copper plated Cytomats? How easy was getting repairs done on them? Etc?

We have other threads for Centrifuges, Integrated cold storage, and a couple of topics on Small incubators, but none on the larger ones. Hoping this becomes a good thread to discuss key details to think about before fitting something out and purchasing it, especially with the wide variety of options/features that are add-ons for each.

Thanks everyone!

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They are pretty similar at the end of the day. If you don’t need the size of the Tundra then no need to spend that cash. It is a pretty robust storage device tho…

Liconics are pretty slow, like aggravatingly slow to watch. But they exist in the used market and there are of second hand integrators that can service them. Like https://www.scipods.com/ or copia. SciPods has super fast turn around time as well.

Cytomats are clean and shwanky and the service is tip top, but you wait in line for your turn. They also take awhile to get if you have to buy a new one (last I tried)

If you’re a smaller company, I say working with other smaller companies is the way to go, because you’re on par with their service prioritization. If you’re a small fish asking for service from an integrator that has customers that spend multi multi millions on them then you have to wait your turn. It’s just the way of the world.

Both are field upgradable tho. So you can always buy the base unit and add what you need when it becomes a bottle neck. Of course this can add lots and lots of lead time if your service relationship isn’t lightning fast.


I’m pretty convinced that Cytomats and Liconics are actually built by the same company and then branded as either. Anybody have any info on that? Underneath they both use Heraeus controllers and having worked with both they seem almost identical in how they operate.

With all that said, I’ve been happy with both. They are a little slow, but overall they are proven technologies and operate fairly simply. I have an Ambistore from HRB and it’s very nice, I would assume their Steristore/Tundra line are the same hardware but with temp/CO2 control.

You nailed it :frowning:


Hey all. I am surprised to not hear more critical voices regarding the large automated incubators. We have mainly been using Thermo Cytomats of the latest generation, and we are not very happy with them. For us, they were more affordable than the HighRes incubators and faster than the Liconics, and otherwise checked all the boxes on their spec sheet (decontamination procedure, humidity control, temperature range). However, we keep having problems with broken sensors, broken motors, broken cables. We are running our incubators either at 4-10°C, 65% humidity or 37°C, 95% humidity in a high throughput environment (1000-3000 plate transfers per week), so reliable equipment is a big deal to us.

Anybody out there running their incubators in a similar regime, and happy with their model? Please let us know, we are always looking for alternatives. Are the HighRes ones more reliable?

Just wanted to give a shoutout to the Kuhner ISF1-Z. We never got as far a purchasing one, but specc’ed one out that included an automated door and other features to allow it to be integrated into a workcell. The Basic Beluga version also comes with more headroom for robotic arm access. I’ve heard nothing but good things about their non-automated incubators and wanted to toss it in the thread because there seem to be so few options out there for large format automated shaking incubators.

The Cytomats actually have the Option for a Solid Copper Chamber (not copper plated) which folks swear my for its antimicorobial properites. Thermos marketing papers suggest that Liconel is about the same as a stainless steal chamber. They also have some real fancy humidity options.

Thanks everyone for the advice! For the scale I am looking at, the speed is not going be the rate limiting factor for our process, as there are other bottlenecks that would far outstrip the transfer speeds here.

@smohler thanks for the recommendation of scipods. I will keep in them mind, as we have definitely struggled with getting timely attention in the past from some of our other vendors.

@Pete , do you have a link you ocudl share for that? I couldn’t find one that specifically mentioned Liconel.

Thanks everyone else for the feedback. This helps a lot!