IKO Linear Motion Rolling Guides Improve Throughput in Automated Labs

 

Liquid handling instruments in laboratories require precise, accurate and reliable motion. If lab lab samples are manipulated incorrectly, they will produce errors or inconsistent results during analysis. Therefore, scientists must be confident that a correct amount of liquid is dispensed every time. And, because automated liquid handling machines are required to manipulate and process high volumes of samples at high speeds, labs can’t afford downtime due to maintenance.

                                          Analysis of samples in microplates using automated robotics.

Recently, a major manufacturer of life sciences equipment turned to IKO when it needed a low-maintenance linear guide assembly to provide smooth, repeatable motion for a new line of air pipettes for its automated liquid handling instruments. The pipettes are designed for a redeveloped syringe pump. The syringe pumps are integrated into an automated robotic gantry system that will process arrays of fluid samples for analysis.

The syringe pump acts as a small linear motion actuator and has a built-in pump rod that can pull in and dispense a very precise volume of liquid as it slides in and out of the module. A linear rail assembly holds the pump rod in place and provides linear motion as the robotic arm moves the syringe pump fitted with a pipette array from sample to sample. An array of multiple syringe pumps can be configured within the high-speed fluid analysis systems, enabling them to process thousands of samples in a production cycle.

The engineers chose an IKO maintenance-free MLG7 linear motion rolling guide rail assembly. As part of IKO’s ML Series, the MLG7 features a recirculating ball-type design that ensures precise motion, with exceptional rigidity and quiet operation. Two features make these guides especially suitable for this and other pipette applications:

  • Long-lasting, maintenance-free operation. The MLG7 has a self-lubricating feature built into the slide unit, providing 20,000 kilometers of reliable operation. The C-Lube unit doesn’t contact the track rail, ensuring smooth motion without increasing rolling resistance.
  • Corrosion-resistant stainless steel construction, which allowed the customer to use a special cleanroom grease for this application instead of a lithium-based lubricant.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated demand for test instrumentation, the customer needed a large quantity of MLG7 linear motion rolling guides to meet higher-than-expected demand for the specialized fluid handling systems. We delivered off-the-shelf stainless steel units with C-Lube, thanks to our ability to stock products in local facilities. This availability, along with the quality of the guide, are especially important during prototyping and testing since the FDA approval process can take up to five years and make part replacement prohibitive. And, with the help of its local IKO sales engineer, the customer received a higher-performing linear guide and exceptional service at an attractive price point.

IKO Linear Guides Achieve Positive Results in Fluid Analysis Systems

The MLG7 linear motion rolling guide has passed all of the customer’s durability and reliability testing and, since the initial order, tens of thousands of units have been performing accurately and reliably in the field.


For more information about the ML Series, visit product page.

 


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