Pilot line for the production of „LabDisks“
The Institut für Mikroanalysesysteme of the Hahn-Schickard-Gesellschaft für angewandte Forschung e.V. (Institute for Microanalysis Systems of the Hahn-Schickard Association for Applied Research, a registered association) in Freiburg, Germany, developed the “LabDisk” together with the local Albert Ludwig University: A centrifugal microfluidic technology platform for quick tests. The centerpiece is a disposable plastic disk the size of a CD. On it are all necessary reagents – in solid or liquid form in aluminum-coated plastic bags (“stick-packs”), or in dried form as cryo pellets. The reagents are released by the rotation of the disk in the “player”, they mix with the test sample, and are distributed through very fine channels into reaction chambers. As a result, in 60 to 90 minutes, for example, infectious diseases such as malaria or multi-resistant germs can be detected.
Until 2015 Hahn-Schickard could only produce test elements in small batches up to 100 pieces. A pilot line, for which Harro Höfliger supplied two machines, now provides more capacity for small series. The Pro-Fill module is based on the flexible automated platform Vario-Flex: A pipetting station doses up to 16 dryable reagents as well as magnetic particles onto the pre-structured disks. After the drying process and the loading of cryo pellets, the test elements are tightly sealed with adhesive-coated or thermal sealing films in the Pro-Seal module.
Feeding other types of disks, programming new coordinates, and loading different reagents – it all works very easily.
Head of the Lab-on-a-Chip Prototyping and Production Department, Hahn-Schickard, Freiburg
Variable and scalable lab-on-a-chip production
Dominique Kosse, head of the Lab-on-a-Chip Prototyping and Production Department, responsible for the implementation of microfluidic concepts in test samples and small series, sees the Lab-Disk pilot line as a technological boost for the market readiness of customer products: “Scalable batch sizes of 1,000 to 10,000 items are a typical size for clinical testing and validation for our customers. Up until now we could not meet their needs.” With this project, Hahn-Schickard wants to provide relief, in particular to small- and medium-sized enterprises, from having to make large capital investments.