TipCharger Pin Tool Systems

The 384 and 1536-channel TipCharger systems are exceptionally effective at cleaning pin tools for high-throughput pipetting systems.

IonField approaches pin tool cleaning as a semi-custom product going into an automation environment. We offer not only the standard optical trigger capability but have two other pin sensing options to provide a more robust detection method in unusual liquid handling situations. The cleaning station bodies can be 3D printed with slight dimensional modifications to fit into less standardized hardware than a liquid handler.

We have also done some highly custom installations requiring specialized hardware to achieve a successful outcome. Our FDSS installation, seen in the photo below, required the development of a high precision adjustable collar to hold the cleaning station. For that project, we worked with an engineer at NCATS who designed, built and installed the collar.

Our pin tool systems do require solvent baths to be used. However, no DMSO bath is needed. There are a number of advantages to eliminating DMSO. First, disposal of DMSO is always a problem. Second, DMSO with compounds in solution is very dangerous. Third, the evaporation of DMSO and then condensing on any cold surface substantially increases required maintenance. It is one of the main reasons that the FDSS and similar instruments in this class require so much effort to keep them in top condition.

The other common questions about this product are how well does it clean and how well does it maintain the pins. Often, they are discussed together but there is a subtle difference.

Pin tools are a very high precision product. Generally, they are considered the fastest and least expensive way to transfer small quantities. Cleanliness is determined by how much carryover is there. Maintenance is the prevention of long-term build up. Clean new pins will perform like the graph below. Volume dispensed precisely varies by adjusting Z up speed.

Effect of Withdrawal Speed on Pin Tool Liquid Retention

Effect of Withdrawal Speed on Pin Tool Liquid Retention

But over time, pins have low solubility compounds crystalize on them. The photo below shows what happens.

Pin Tool Crystallization After Extended Use

Pin Tool Crystallization After Extended Use

As more crystals grow, the pin’s precision declines and at some point even extended sonication or more extreme cleaning methods fail. Here’s the same pin after several minutes in a TipCharger (4 cleaning cycles).

Pin tools simply do not have long-term build up when used with the TipCharger regularly.

Pin Tool Cleaned With TipCharger Shows no Crystallization

Pin Tool Cleaned With TipCharger Shows no Crystallization

Regular carryover with TipCharger is substantially reduced. One user tested three libraries with known problem compounds. TipCharger reduced measurable carryover by an average of 85% of the compounds. Perhaps more important for compounds that did show carryover, it was limited to only the highest concentration point in the compound curve. None of those need to be retested so effectively in that lab, there is no carryover.

TipCharger TC-384

The 384-channel TipCharger system cleans 384 pin tools simultaneously for high-throughput pipetting systems.

TipCharger TC-1536

The 1536-channel TipCharger system cleans a 1536 pin tool for high-throughput pipetting systems.