I’m curious to hear fellow automation engineer opinions on if you have a favorite liquid handling platform and if it has changed over the years.
If it has changed, what changed your mindset? Was it a learning curve, discovery of features, or development by the provider?
I have a lot of favorites just depending on what kind of liquid handling needs to be done. I don’t think my opinions have changed much over the past 10 years.
Agilent Bravo - Best general liquid handler as long as you don’t need to cherry pick and have it integrated with some sort of plate handling robot. They are relatively inexpensive, infinitely customizable in programming with VWorks, small in size so you can fit multiples on one system if you wish, and a loyal as a dog. I don’t recommend using them as a standalone instrument (and yet I have one at my work as a standalone instrument ).
Tecan Fluent - anytime you need 8 channels to operate independently, cherry picking, large volumes of reagent distribution, fixed tips can be a game changer for some purposes.
Labcyte Echo - non-contact nanoliter dispensing, enough said.
Mulitdrop Combi - Need to dispense a somewhat large amount of cheap reagent to a whole (or even part of) plate? These don’t get enough credit for the time savings they can provide to most scientists.
Let me preface this by stating that I love to code and prefer to build my own libraries. If you can develop an IDE-ish experience, this is the best way to iterate and will set you up for a lot of success in the future. CoPilot has also 1000% improved that experience and programs can be written with even greater speed & efficiency. With that said, my favorite liquid handler has remained the same.
Tecan EVO - Completely customizable, can set up CI/CD pipelines with ease, THE BEST firmware documentation I have ever seen, can be scripted entirely from a text file if wanted, can build protocols on the fly, can run entire steps with just firmware commands to give one complete control, one of the first platforms that let you utilize Python and it’s an absolute workhorse (used almost 24/7).
With that said, the hardware on new systems like the Fluent or Vantage is just tough to pass up if you can spring for it.