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Microfluidics improves low-volume liquid handling where aggressive and expensive reagents and solvents are used, according to Burkert Fluid Control Systems.

Every day, new types of machines and equipment are being designed and developed and specialist microfluidic products for medical, biomedical and analytical applications are playing a key role.

Through automation and miniaturisation, these products are delivering greater efficiency in existing processes (faster sequences, higher throughput, smaller sample and solvent volumes and lower costs) and enabling new processes in areas such as genetic research, chromatography and pharmaceuticals.

Extensive research and development has been undertaken over the last few years, with the objective of achieving improvements across a range of processes, such as in doping analysis, tracing in food or meat or in bio-chip analysing.

As a result, systems – particularly those in pharmaceutical and medical applications, biotechnology or biochemistry – reveal a high level of automation.

This is intended to enable higher throughput, reduce costs and eliminate the errors that occur in manual operations.

Miniaturised fluidic components have become essential in this automation evolution and are now a prerequisite in a range of new processes, according to the company.

Initially confined to micro pumps and valves, microfluidic components now include miniaturised sensors for pressure, temperature and flow control, all of which are vital to cope with the challenges of low-volume liquid handling.

This ability is important in IVD and pharmaceuticals, where increasingly expensive reagents and samples are used.

These may be small in quantity, but not in price, their cost sometimes extending to hundreds of pounds for a few millilitres.

The solvents and reagents now in use are stronger and more aggressive and are used in higher concentrations compared to the standard of just a few years ago.

As a result, highly resistant materials such as PTFE, PEEK and FFKM, as wetted parts, are required to ensure that the isolation of the media is not negated by such chemical attacks.

All of the above considerations and the fact that it is essential to design miniaturised fluidic components that facilitate adaptation and/or integration into different applications, mean that it is important to include the microfluidic supplier at the development stage of any new equipment processes.

From the customer’s point of view, highly integrated systems are easier to assemble and their individual combination in specific manifolds with optimised fluid channel design, valve components, sensors and control electronics offers a high level of functionality.

This starts with simple, functionally integrated manifolds and leads on to highly sophisticated and customer-defined control systems.

System solutions offer economic advantages in terms of the total cost of ownership.

They also provide a functional guarantee from a single supplier and technical benefits such as the reduction of internal volumes and fluidic interfaces (hence, the risk of contamination is reduced) and an optimised interaction between functional units such as sensors, pumps, valves and controllers.

The integrative approach and material know-how of a system supplier also eases dealing with technical challenges, such as the use of aggressive solvents including Pyridine, THF, Dichloromethane and Acetonitrile.

Microfluidic components that make up the customised systems approach are characterised by their size (width per station of 4.5mm) and their performance, with dosing rates down to a few nanolitres.

As a result, they meet the demanding requirements of cost-conscious miniaturisation.

Burkert claims that they also provide two other essential operating qualities: reliable, continuous operation and modular flexibility.

Microfluidic components offer a number of key benefits, including freedom from wear and tear, short response times, low power consumption and an operating life of up to 108 valve cycles.

As regards modular flexibility, this recognises that devices constructed using microfluidic components must perform varying tasks with frequently similar sub-functions, such as dosing or mixing, in their overall function.

The logical requirements in the design of microfluidic components are: a variety of body types; the interchanging of components; modular systems with standard centre spacings; and the facility for additional application-specific developments.

The Burkert microfluidics brochure highlights how automation and miniaturisation are coming together in highly integrated, customised fluidic systems that provide more advantages than standard solutions in critical medical, biomedical and analytical fluid control applications.

These systems are improving established processes substantially, not only by means of higher speed and improved throughput, but also through reduced costs, as smaller sample and solvent volumes are required.

Burkert Fluid Control Systems

Burkert Fluid Control Systems has been manufacturing products and systems for over 60 years that can be used wherever fluid media and gases need to be measured, controlled and regulated.

Burkert Fluid Control Systems has been manufacturing products and systems for over 60 years that can be used wherever fluid media and gases need to be measured, controlled and regulated.Whether the application is filling, level, flow, pressure or temperature we have a solution and a uniquely comprehensive range of products to handle it, including solenoid, process and analytical valves, pneumatic actuation, sensors and controllers.

For Burkert it is not enough to simply offer individual products.Our aim is to provide complete system and application solutions that meet the specific needs of our customers.Tell us what you need and our engineers will find an appropriate solution using our vast experience and a wide range of services such as advice and engineering, installation, testing, and after-sales support.

Burkert’s global presence offers our customers an additional advantage.Products and systems are constantly developed and optimised according to international standards.Through this process synergy effects evolve which ensure technological leadership and competitive advantage

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