Automation is becoming more and more popular in labs of all kinds. While automation can be a great way to increase accuracy, efficiency and throughput, it is important to make sure that you are choosing the right liquid handler for your lab. Let’s take a look at the different types of manual and automated liquid handling systems available and how to choose the best one for your lab.

Types of Liquid Handlers

Liquid handler choices come in a variety of shapes and sizes. From benchtop models to automated liquid handlers that can carry out entire protocols by themselves, there are many options available. The most common types of lab liquid handlers include manual pipettes, multi-channel pipettes, automated pipetting robots, and automated liquid handling workstations. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages depending on your application.

Manual Pipettes

Manual pipettes are the most basic type of liquid handler available. They are typically used for small volumes (1-1000 μL) and work by manually drawing up the desired volume into a syringe or microcapillary tip before dispensing it into another container or sample plate. Manual pipettes are accurate but require manual operation which can be time consuming if large numbers of samples need to be processed quickly.

Multi-Channel Pipettes

Multi-channel pipettes are similar to manual pipettes except that they have multiple channels which allow them to process several samples at once. This makes them ideal for applications where multiple samples need to be processed quickly such as ELISAs and PCR reactions. Multi-channel pipettes provide increased accuracy compared to manual pipettes since they do not rely on direct manual manipulation, however they still require some degree of user input which can lead to human error if not performed correctly.

Automated Pipetting Robots

Automated pipetting robots offer an even greater level of automation than multi-channel pipettes but come with a higher cost associated with them. These machines use robotic arms with precision tips attached to them which enable them to accurately move liquids from one container or sample plate into another without any user interaction required.

This makes them ideal for high throughput applications such as drug screening or protein crystallization studies where hundreds or thousands of samples need to be processed quickly with minimal user input required. However, these liquid handling robots tend to be expensive so it is important to consider whether or not the extra cost justifies the increase in accuracy over manual or multi-channel methods before investing in one for your lab.


No matter what type of automated liquid handling system you choose for your lab, it is important that you carefully consider your application needs before making a purchase decision so that you get the most out of your investment. With all of the options available today, there is sure to be a solution that fits both your budget and workflow requirements! Whether you decide on a manual or automated system, taking into account factors such as speed, accuracy, cost and throughput will help ensure successful automation in your lab environment!


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