Any laboratory that relies on 96- or 384-well assays will appreciate the Precision2000 Automated Microplate Pipetting System from Bio-Tek Inc. The machine can be utilized for normally mundane, yet vital, steps such as reagent additions, serial dilutions, sample transfers, setup of plate replications and mixing samples within the well. It comes with an LCD external keypad (for programming steps), a Microsoft 2000 compatible program, the robotic arm, and a platform containing six stations (each station can hold one 96- or 384-well plate). In addition, there are two solution reservoirs associated with each reservoir. When it comes to precision, the company claims less than 2% error when dispensing 100ul of DI H20 with 0.1% Tween 20.
The software package that comes with the machine enables simple and logical programming of various commands. The setup permits each individual user to save their own program onto the hard drive. Additionally, users can design alternate programs for each assay, tip and plate type (even for details like mixing rates). The program is thorough, well-written, and user-friendly. A quality control simulation allows the user to create files and details, edit, copy, delete, and test their finished program. A problem I found was if a step was incorrect, it was frustrating to locate the point of error. In addition, utilizing the external keypad is not as convenient as the computer program, thus limiting potential variations to programs (using the computer program prevents this complication). Nonetheless, the attributes of this machine enable tremendous variation in potential uses, hence, making it a more cost effective purchase.
When performing assays on multiple plates, such as an ELISA or HTRF, the machine increases time efficiency by rapidly preparing and mixing samples from multiple plates with minimal error, something typically prone to human error. It is recommended that the arm be observed to ensure proper aspiration and elution, but in my experience, there have been minimal problems associated with the apparatus once it is properly programmed to each tip and plate.
In addition to the previously warnings, there are a few negative aspects of the machine that a user should be aware of. For each step, the wells should contain about 20ul excess volume. The benefits of the robotic arm are tremendous, however, since the robotic arm does not touch the bottom of the well with its pipette tips, the additional volume is needed to ensure proper volume aspiration and delivery. Also, the waste container is small and has a tendency to fill up quickly so it needs to be checked occasionally to prevent overflow.
In summation, the Precision2000 is a useful and productive piece of equipment for any laboratory. It’s fast and reliable features allow the user to multi-task numerous assay plates simultaneously with minimal errors. Although costly, it is a value with respect to analysis speed. It is primarily for the convenience and dependability, that I recommend the Bio-Tek Precision2000.
University of California, Los Angeles