The Evolution of Continuous Improvement in Labware
So goes the old adage: Why fix it if it ain’t broke? Definitely a worthy question, but just because something isn’t broken doesn’t mean improvement isn’t worth investigating. And sometimes, opportunities present themselves.
It’s Time … but There’s a Catch
The popularity of a microplate is inversely proportional to the lifetime of the injection mold employed in its production. As the giant chunk of steel that is the mold begins to approach the point where maintenance services become more difficult and occur more frequently, a replacement mold must be fabricated. This happy/unhappy occurrence presents an opportunity to engage in the often-sought process ideal of constant improvement.
And here is the catch:
- The improvements must not negatively affect any attribute that is important to the customers of that product.
Agilent Microplates recently considered this dilemma in relation to our very popular 384-well filter microplates. The new mold needs to provide the customers with all of the features that they expect and depend upon, while changing them in a way that offers an advantage.
What Does Change
We created the replacement 384-well filter microplate mold that produces product with identical specifications to the older mold—and we’ve added an important improvement:
- The outer surface of the drip at the bottom of the plate has been reshaped to better shed droplets during filtration processes.
In the magnified shadow images shown here, note that the droplet, just prior to falling away, has formed a very narrow neck with attachment to just the terminal surface of the drip. The image taken 0.03 seconds later captures the droplet falling away, leaving the drip clear of residual filtrate.
This improvement results in:
Better sample recoveries and minimizes the chances of contamination of other samples and work surfaces.
The Standards Stay the Same
The standard polypropylene microplates contain various pore sizes of glass fiber and polyethylene filter media, and can be customized to employ filter materials from a world-wide range of suppliers. These are compatible with most vacuum and positive pressure manifolds, as well as centrifugation protocols. The transition will be occurring during the remainder of 2017.
Affected product numbers include:
Click here to request a sample of the improved 384-well filter microplate.