Friday, October 19, 2007

How to choose a microarrayer


You want to make a microarray and you need to buy some equipment. When buying a microarrayer (microarray spotter), there are important considerations to make. I am happy to guide anyone through this processes, so please contact me. If you are considering a microarrayer, be sure to research the following...if any one of these considerations is not handled properly, you'll have a lot of microarray manufacturing trouble on your hands.

1. What type of spotting technology does it have? Is it compatible with my buffer system and surface chemistry? What are the expected CV's? How many samples can be dispensed at a time? How much volume is used to make spots? What spot sizes can I make? Can I change spot sizes easily?

2. How long ago was the system engineered?

3. What type of motion control technology does it use on each axis..linear motors, belts or stepper motors? How many steps per millimeter does the system make? Linear drives are best.

4. Is the machine optically encoded, if yes...what resolution? How accurate and repeatable is each axis X, Y and Z. Z is critical...don't forget about the repeatability of the Z axis!

5. Details of the wash dry station and how it is programmed...what liquids can be run through it. Does it have a sonicator? How is the sonicator filled and drained? How is the waste handled, how much waste is generated by the instrument?

6. Software graphical users interface. Is it easy to use? Can I program it to do the types of patterns and format I need? Does it have a re-print repair function? How about interstitial " orange packing" patterns for higher density? What about "multi-well" substrates and slides?

7. Throughput, how many microarrays does it make at a time? Can it integrate with a stacker for source plates? What environmental control is available on the stacker?

8. Maintenance..life expectancy of the hardware...spotting technology, robot, accessory control module, wash station.

9. Flexibility...can a single instrument easily change between slides, plates, plate size glass and other micro-fluidic formats? How are these different formats handled on the worktable of the instrument? How about different sample types and buffer systems?

10. Density..can it make the spot sizes I need on my microarray? Can I change spot size easily? Will it do interstitial "orange pack" printing for double density?

11. Cost short and long term? Service contracts? Reliability, life expectancy...

12. What type of environmental controls are available, humidity, cleanliness, cooling, dehumidification?

13. Noise level, vibrations etc...

14. Will the system fit in my lab space? Will it fit through the door? Do I need a special table or lab bench? Are the electrical requirements modest?

15. Ascetics...does the system look nice? We need to go to the lab everyday, we want to have a nice beautiful working environment.

Contact Todd Martinsky todd@arrayit.com This blog entry will be updated to include more detailed information on each of these considerations and how Arrayit brand microarrayers answers these questions.