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    Home : Application Briefs : Analyze the Path of a Liquid-Handling Robot

Analyze the Path of a Liquid-Handling Robot

Application Briefs
 
Liquid-handling robots are becoming valuable tools for almost any researcher or technician working in a biological or chemical laboratory. Traditional fluid-handling techniques are manual, labor-intensive, and time-consuming. They impair productivity, cost-efficiency, and throughput. In the past five years, liquid-handling robots are being used more because they drastically improve workflows. Moreover, they allow for efficient and repeatable processing.

Two major factors in both the design and programming of a liquid-handling robot are the positions at which the robot needs to stop and the trajectory to move from position to position. A common mistake made by individuals with limited experience in robotics or control theory is fine tuning each of the robot's axes independently to desired position and speed criteria instead of tuning each axis with respect to the others. Lack of coordination between the axes could result in tainting of samples, as well as costly damage to the equipment.

The challenge: To verify the path of a liquid dispensing robot as it dispenses fluid to a sequence of wells on a microtiter plate.

The engineer uses MapleSim to:

  • Design an accurate model of the liquid handling system
  • Import the data path in Maple to analyze how accurately the path is being followed
  • Create an animation to visualize and interpret the results
The analysis shows that the initial tuning of the handler is not calibrated properly. Independently, each axis follows the desired path, but when all paths are to be followed simultaneously, the overall accuracy is not acceptable. Now that the problem has been identified, the engineer can go back and retune the controller before the robot is used in a live setting, thus avoiding contaminated tests and costly repairs.
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