Microplate Washing Within the Laboratory

Microplate Washers combine dispensation and aspiration cycles to eliminate reagents from sample wells. A microplate washer may be an automatic washing device or a manually-operated washer and is available in many different configurations for various types of microplates and strips.

These washers are differentiated by specifications, including speed and number of wash cycles, the number of available preprogrammed settings, the fluid volume used per cycle, soak time and dispensing volume. They can be used to wash and prepare plates for a variety of test routines, including ELISA assays, cytotoxicity assays, agglutination tests and cell washing applications.

Manual microplate washers consist of a reservoir fitted with multiple channel pipettes that can be used to wash multiple-well microplates. A strip washer typically includes multiple channel manifolds for rinsing down larger microplates.

For large microplates, such as those with 384 wells, automatic manifolds can be used to dispense liquids with the use of precision tips. An automated microplate washer can wash single strips or full plates and can also wash plates from the side and bottom. Automated plate washers can be programmed for column or row washing for the partial washing of large microplates.

Microplate washers use different solutions for various applications. Some automated plate washers can be programmed with specific wash protocols to dispense only certain types of solutions or allow defined soak times. Many plate washers also feature an alarm function to indicate when the waste reservoir is full or nearly full.

Newer modular plate washers are now available. The modular design permits easy configuration of the washer for changing formats and applications. The system's multiple well wash heads are interchangeable to extend the capabilities of the system on a single instrument platform. Most modern microplate washers have on board, touchscreen programming which gives laboratory personnel control over the unit's microplate processing parameters.

The system's washing capability minimizes background interference, maximizing the sensitivity of assays. There is even a hand held style washer available. These washers generally consist of a microplate workstation, a reservoir kit, a pump module and wash manifolds with either 8 or 12 probes. This style of washer has proven to be useful for in-the-field applications for its ease of use. While certainly not suitable for every application, these hand held portable plate washers have worked on with many users who have a need for a portable washing solution or simply have very little free space in the laboratory.

Microplate washers are an essential piece of equipment in the life sciences or quality control testing laboratory, where they ensure reliable, accurate results. It's almost unimaginable that there was a time when laboratory personnel had to rely entirely on manual washing for the microplates used in high sensitivity applications, but like every other type of laboratory equipment, great strides have been made in the technologies behind them.

There is now a microplate washer available to suit the needs of virtually any application and to provide laboratories with the required cleaning required for the highest in sensitivity and accuracy for exacting assays in the modern high throughput laboratory environment.