Burkert's Type 6650 miniature solenoid valve is being used by KBioscience in its Meridian machine that provides improved performance, reliability and operating life in the genotyping pipeline.
KBioscience is a British start-up company that is growing fast – 300 per cent in 2009. With in excess of 1000 customers worldwide, KBioscience is one of the leading providers of contracted-out SNP/InDel genotyping services. The company is a leading supplier of consumables, such as reagent kits, and is also making a name for itself in Agro-genomics (the detailed study of the generic make-up of plants and how their genes work together to produce a crop).
In 2007 KBioscience to the decision to design and manufacture its own automated dosing machine for reagent and sample transfer. This was because KBioscience was dissatisfied with the reliability and performance of the existing equipment that it was using.
Sean Scotcher, Head of Projects for KBioscience, takes up the story: "The major problem with the old machine, and the one that we needed to overcome with our new design, was clogging of the dosing heads that performed the dispensing of reagents. The clogging agent was salts, which built up in the miniature bore size valves used to perform the dosing operation, causing them to block completely.
"In order to prevent the same problem occurring on the Meridian machine, we undertook a test project across all the leading makes of miniature solenoid valves on the market. The project ran for some months, with valves eliminated as they became choked with salts.
"At the culmination of the test period the valve we found that was least prone to blockage was Burkert's new 6650 miniature solenoid valve. This factor was instrumental in our specifying the Type 6650 on our machine; although we also liked the valve's 4.5mm pitch, which allows us to pack the valves together tightly, exactly what is needed on space-constricted dosing heads."
The superior performance and ease of integration of the Type 6650 on the Meridian machine are the result of the valve being designed specifically for use in clinical, life-science, analytical and fluid handling equipment. As such, it differs significantly from general-purpose miniature solenoid valves, not least because of its patented Flipper Technology. This employs an elastomeric element that moves between two opposite valve seats under the force of permanent magnets fixed to the flipper element, opening one as it closes the other. Only a temporary pulse is required for this operation, so the 6650 is characterised by its short response time, high reliability and very low wear.
With the adoption of the Type 6650, KBioscience is now nearing completion of the Meridian project. The company's objective is not only to use the machines in its own operations, but also to grow its business by selling the machines to its existing customers, both domestic and across wider international markets.
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