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Revolutionizing the World of Pipetting

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Necessity is the mother of invention, and nowhere is this more clearly demonstrated than in the laboratory. We caught up with Alex Studer, VP of Marketing and Innovation at INTEGRA Biosciences, to discuss the company’s aim to transform the world of pipetting.

What led INTEGRA to enter the pipetting market in the first place?

Life scientists spend a great deal of time pipetting, and there was a need to develop more productive tools. Despite the obvious demand for new technology, few – if any – companies were specializing purely in this type of liquid handling, so INTEGRA turned its attention to driving innovation in this niche market. In particular, we set out to address the pain points experienced by our customers in the lab. Engaging with them directly and actively seeking their feedback has enabled us to continually evolve the seemingly simple pipette in response to changing customer needs and workflows, helping to make liquid handling even more efficient.

Can you tell us about some of the pain points experienced in the lab?

Many multichannel pipettes require excessive force to load tips across the channels, often accompanied by time-consuming hand-tightening to guarantee a secure fit. This can lead to pick-up inconsistencies and failures that result in tip misalignment, leakages and sometime even tips falling off. One of our early innovations was the development of a novel tip-pipette interface – GripTips – that features a simple snap-on design, securely and effortlessly attaching the tip to any INTEGRA pipette. This elegant solution ensures that the tip is perfectly aligned and sealed without any additional manipulation.

Can you tell us a little about VOYAGER, which is a unique pipetting solution in the market?

Transferring samples between different labware formats one at a time can be very tedious, so we developed VOYAGER, the only multichannel pipette offering automatic adjustment of tip spacing at the touch of a button. Single-handed, push-button adjustment of tip spacing allows straightforward parallel transfer of samples – from tubes to plates or 96- to 384-well formats –increasing speed and throughput.

VOYAGER is clearly an innovation in electronic pipetting. What about mechanical pipettes? Are they still popular?

There is still a big demand for mechanical pipettes, and this represents an appealing opportunity to change the way things are done. Traditionally, a single rotating plunger is used to set the pipetting volumes, an approach that makes frequent adjustment tedious and time consuming, particularly when large volume changes are required. To overcome this pain point, we designed the EVOLVE pipette, which features three number lock dials that are quickly and easily adjusted to the required volume.

Having developed solutions in both electronic and mechanical pipetting, did it make sense to turn your attention to automation next?

Absolutely. Ergonomics has always been an important consideration for us, and we launched the compact ASSIST and ASSIST PLUS pipetting robots to automate processes – such as serial dilutions, reformatting and set-up of assay plates – and reduce repetitive strain injuries. The ASSIST/ASSIST PLUS pipetting robots use our electronic multichannel pipettes to deliver flexible, reproducible and error-free pipetting at an affordable price. It’s also easy to access new applications by simply swapping to a different INTEGRA pipette – ensuring that the systems will never become obsolete – and the pipettes can still be used manually when desired.

Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us. What’s next in the world of pipetting?

This is really just the tip of the iceberg. Innovation does not stand still, and we continue to use our knowledge of the market and customer feedback as the basis for future developments to address unmet needs. By providing the perfect pipetting tools, we leave laboratory staff free to focus on what they do best – science.

Alex Studer,  VP of Marketing and Innovation at INTEGRA Biosciences