Using item components for innovative BioFluidix dispensing systems

Stable frame and functional linear technology

Maximum precision and functionality – the requirements placed on dispensing systems in the miniaturised liquid handling sector are high. BioFluidix GmbH specialises in developing and manufacturing automated liquid handling devices and dispensing modules, and tailoring them to specific customer needs. Its products are used to dispense liquids contact-free in volumes ranging from just a few picolitres to several microlitres. The microfluidics specialist uses numerous item components to build its automation systems. For example, it uses profiles, fasteners and fastening elements from the item MB Building Kit System, machine enclosures and Linear Units with linear guide systems, corresponding guide rails and carriages that move and position dispensing units with the utmost precision. Thanks to the wide-ranging portfolio of item components, their modular design and compatibility with one another, BioFluidix can easily adapt to new conditions and benefit from maximum flexibility when it comes to meeting customer requirements.

BioFluidix GmbH was established in 2005 as a spin-off from the Department of Microsystems Engineering (IMTEK) at the University of Freiburg and currently employs 24 members of staff. The microfluidics and automation technology specialists develop high-end systems intended primarily for the fields of life sciences, pharmaceutical production, medical technology and substrate and surface coating solutions. The patented dispensing technologies are used in all scenarios that call for maximum precision and reliability. Besides supplying single-channel dispensing modules, BioFluidix can also combine different dispensing systems on a single automated working platform – the BioSpot workstation. “We enable our customers to implement miniaturised and optimised processes, thus offering enormous time and cost savings,” explains the CTO of BioFluidix GmbH. “To combine different processes and technologies, we needed a suitable structure and a corresponding platform. This is where item comes into play.” BioFluidix uses a wide range of item components – profiles and fasteners for building dispensing systems along with other elements for protective covers and enclosures. The company’s BioSpot workstation also runs on Linear Guide Rail PS 4-15 and Bearing Carriage PS 4-15, both of which are manufactured by the market leader in building kit systems for industrial applications. 

Flexibility – a major advantage

BioFluidix has been working closely with item ever since it was established. “We were still affiliated with the university when we first got in contact,” explains the CTO. “We were impressed even then by just how much flexibility the components offered.” When it comes to the protective enclosure, for example, this flexibility is a huge advantage over prefabricated, non-configurable machine cabins in standard formats. When working with fixed formats, it doesn’t take long before meeting specific customer requirements becomes a very expensive affair. BioFluidix set out to find a more customised solution without any restrictions, which could also be implemented with short delivery times and at competitive prices. Using item components means numerous designs can be implemented in next to no time and solutions can be extended with ease. Thanks to the building kit system’s modular design, BioFluidix is able to respond quickly and flexibly to the relevant customer requirements.

Manufacturing the BioSpot workstation to customer specifications

The BioSpot workstation can be used to combine various dispensing technologies in a single automated platform in order to implement a wide range of applications. Depending on what the customer wants, the devices are built to unique specifications and modified for the relevant requirements. The system’s load-bearing and functional elements are made with item profiles. BioFluidix is increasingly using Line X aluminium profiles from item, as they satisfy customers’ high standards in terms of design and functionality. Their unbroken surfaces and minimised edge radius ensure a smooth, seamless transition between profiles. item linear technology, such as the PS 4-20 linear guide system, is used to move the dispensing units. This system consists of guide rails, which are mounted on item Groove Profiles, and the matching Bearing Carriages. The dispensing unit of the BioSpot workstation is attached to the PS 4-20 carriages and guided securely and accurately throughout the dispensing process. The key features of item components are high load-carrying capacity, rigidity and compact design. BioFluidix manufactures the BioSpot workstation in a variety of dimensions, with the width set at 55 cm and the length varying as required by the customer – which is why the guide rails of the linear guide system and the connected components are customised as required. “Thanks to the item building kit system, these customised devices can be manufactured cost-effectively,” explains the project manager at BioFluidix. “This means our models can be parameterised, and we can ensure consistent functionality and quality.”

Configuring smart solutions using item online tools

BioFluidix has many uses for item components beyond just building its BioSpot workstation. This innovative Freiburg-based company also uses item profiles, fasteners and fastening elements to implement customer-specific systems and machinery that call for a completely unique structure. BioFluidix develops and integrates different components, sensors and control concepts to create bespoke solutions to order. “What makes all the difference is that we can use item components to develop and implement the perfect devices very quickly and in the dimensions specified by the customer,” says the project manager. “We also make the most of being able to order pre-configured parts via the item website.” Initially, BioFluidix was still having its components machined by an intermediary supplier, but soon realised this additional step was unnecessary. item offers profiles with high-precision cut-offs directly via its Online Shop. These keep to all tolerances, meaning BioFluidix can manufacture the devices as soon as they receive the parts. Profiles are selected and designed using the item Engineeringtool. BioFluidix integrates the 3D data for the appropriate configuration into its own CAD environment and orders the prefabricated construction kits directly through the website. “It’s easy and convenient to purchase the parts via the Online Shop instead of sending an order by e-mail and having to specify parts lists and tolerances, and, in some cases, negotiate prices,” says the project manager. Orders are placed with item through an online account that has been configured perfectly for BioFluidix. All conditions and agreements are stored there, which means orders can be processed quickly and reliably. As a result, item can supply a smart solution for all design variants. The entire process takes only a few days – from the initial order until the prefabricated components arrive. Since BioFluidix takes a “build-to-order” approach to production and does not keep warehouse stock, it is crucial that components are delivered on time. “In item, we have found a partner that delivers orders quickly and reliably,” says the CTO of BioFluidix. “For instance, there have been no break-downs or complaints in the many years we’ve been working together.”

High functionality and aesthetic appeal

The huge building kit system and its wide variety of compatible components give item a clear competitive edge. The profiles in Line X are also suitable for special application areas with particular requirements. Their largely unbroken surfaces, for example, offer a major advantage for applications in near-cleanroom conditions, as no dirt can penetrate the profiles and the surfaces are easy to clean. Covered grooves stop particles from accumulating in nooks and crannies. “In addition to functionality and quality, we also pay close attention to aesthetics when designing our systems,” says the CTO. “The clean contours of the profiles and the timeless design of the item components speak for themselves more than anything else.” BioFluidix is currently developing a new microfluidics device for which it also plans to use item profiles – meaning this successful collaboration is set to continue in the future.

Length: 9,104 characters including spaces

Date: 20 August 2020

Caption 1: BioFluidix uses a wide range of item components to construct the BioSpot workstation. 

Caption 2: The BioSpot workstation combines various dispensing technologies on a single automated platform. Depending on customer requirements, the devices are built to unique specifications and vary in length – which is no problem, thanks to the flexibility of the item building kit system.

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