GB2354842A - Preventing interference in 'pick and place' robot systems - Google Patents

Preventing interference in 'pick and place' robot systems Download PDF

Info

Publication number
GB2354842A
GB2354842A GB9923101A GB9923101A GB2354842A GB 2354842 A GB2354842 A GB 2354842A GB 9923101 A GB9923101 A GB 9923101A GB 9923101 A GB9923101 A GB 9923101A GB 2354842 A GB2354842 A GB 2354842A
Authority
GB
Grant status
Application
Patent type
Prior art keywords
transfer
transfer units
units
transfer unit
substances
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Granted
Application number
GB9923101A
Other versions
GB9923101D0 (en )
GB2354842B (en )
Inventor
David Bancroft
Markus Kietzmann
Current Assignee (The listed assignees may be inaccurate. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the list.)
* GPC AG
GPC AG
Original Assignee
Gpc Ag
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date

Links

Classifications

    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B82NANOTECHNOLOGY
    • B82YSPECIFIC USES OR APPLICATIONS OF NANOSTRUCTURES; MEASUREMENT OR ANALYSIS OF NANOSTRUCTURES; MANUFACTURE OR TREATMENT OF NANOSTRUCTURES
    • B82Y30/00Nanotechnology for materials or surface science, e.g. nanocomposites
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B25HAND TOOLS; PORTABLE POWER-DRIVEN TOOLS; MANIPULATORS
    • B25JMANIPULATORS; CHAMBERS PROVIDED WITH MANIPULATION DEVICES
    • B25J9/00Programme-controlled manipulators
    • B25J9/16Programme controls
    • B25J9/1674Programme controls characterised by safety, monitoring, diagnostic
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B01PHYSICAL OR CHEMICAL PROCESSES OR APPARATUS IN GENERAL
    • B01JCHEMICAL OR PHYSICAL PROCESSES, e.g. CATALYSIS OR COLLOID CHEMISTRY; THEIR RELEVANT APPARATUS
    • B01J2219/00Chemical, physical or physico-chemical processes in general; Their relevant apparatus
    • B01J2219/00274Sequential or parallel reactions; Apparatus and devices for combinatorial chemistry or for making arrays; Chemical library technology
    • B01J2219/00277Apparatus
    • B01J2219/00279Features relating to reactor vessels
    • B01J2219/00306Reactor vessels in a multiple arrangement
    • B01J2219/00313Reactor vessels in a multiple arrangement the reactor vessels being formed by arrays of wells in blocks
    • B01J2219/00315Microtiter plates
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B01PHYSICAL OR CHEMICAL PROCESSES OR APPARATUS IN GENERAL
    • B01JCHEMICAL OR PHYSICAL PROCESSES, e.g. CATALYSIS OR COLLOID CHEMISTRY; THEIR RELEVANT APPARATUS
    • B01J2219/00Chemical, physical or physico-chemical processes in general; Their relevant apparatus
    • B01J2219/00274Sequential or parallel reactions; Apparatus and devices for combinatorial chemistry or for making arrays; Chemical library technology
    • B01J2219/00277Apparatus
    • B01J2219/00279Features relating to reactor vessels
    • B01J2219/00306Reactor vessels in a multiple arrangement
    • B01J2219/00313Reactor vessels in a multiple arrangement the reactor vessels being formed by arrays of wells in blocks
    • B01J2219/00315Microtiter plates
    • B01J2219/00317Microwell devices, i.e. having large numbers of wells
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B01PHYSICAL OR CHEMICAL PROCESSES OR APPARATUS IN GENERAL
    • B01JCHEMICAL OR PHYSICAL PROCESSES, e.g. CATALYSIS OR COLLOID CHEMISTRY; THEIR RELEVANT APPARATUS
    • B01J2219/00Chemical, physical or physico-chemical processes in general; Their relevant apparatus
    • B01J2219/00274Sequential or parallel reactions; Apparatus and devices for combinatorial chemistry or for making arrays; Chemical library technology
    • B01J2219/00277Apparatus
    • B01J2219/00351Means for dispensing and evacuation of reagents
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B01PHYSICAL OR CHEMICAL PROCESSES OR APPARATUS IN GENERAL
    • B01JCHEMICAL OR PHYSICAL PROCESSES, e.g. CATALYSIS OR COLLOID CHEMISTRY; THEIR RELEVANT APPARATUS
    • B01J2219/00Chemical, physical or physico-chemical processes in general; Their relevant apparatus
    • B01J2219/00274Sequential or parallel reactions; Apparatus and devices for combinatorial chemistry or for making arrays; Chemical library technology
    • B01J2219/00277Apparatus
    • B01J2219/00497Features relating to the solid phase supports
    • B01J2219/00527Sheets
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B01PHYSICAL OR CHEMICAL PROCESSES OR APPARATUS IN GENERAL
    • B01JCHEMICAL OR PHYSICAL PROCESSES, e.g. CATALYSIS OR COLLOID CHEMISTRY; THEIR RELEVANT APPARATUS
    • B01J2219/00Chemical, physical or physico-chemical processes in general; Their relevant apparatus
    • B01J2219/00274Sequential or parallel reactions; Apparatus and devices for combinatorial chemistry or for making arrays; Chemical library technology
    • B01J2219/00277Apparatus
    • B01J2219/00497Features relating to the solid phase supports
    • B01J2219/00527Sheets
    • B01J2219/00531Sheets essentially square
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B01PHYSICAL OR CHEMICAL PROCESSES OR APPARATUS IN GENERAL
    • B01JCHEMICAL OR PHYSICAL PROCESSES, e.g. CATALYSIS OR COLLOID CHEMISTRY; THEIR RELEVANT APPARATUS
    • B01J2219/00Chemical, physical or physico-chemical processes in general; Their relevant apparatus
    • B01J2219/00274Sequential or parallel reactions; Apparatus and devices for combinatorial chemistry or for making arrays; Chemical library technology
    • B01J2219/00583Features relative to the processes being carried out
    • B01J2219/00585Parallel processes
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B01PHYSICAL OR CHEMICAL PROCESSES OR APPARATUS IN GENERAL
    • B01JCHEMICAL OR PHYSICAL PROCESSES, e.g. CATALYSIS OR COLLOID CHEMISTRY; THEIR RELEVANT APPARATUS
    • B01J2219/00Chemical, physical or physico-chemical processes in general; Their relevant apparatus
    • B01J2219/00274Sequential or parallel reactions; Apparatus and devices for combinatorial chemistry or for making arrays; Chemical library technology
    • B01J2219/00583Features relative to the processes being carried out
    • B01J2219/0059Sequential processes
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B01PHYSICAL OR CHEMICAL PROCESSES OR APPARATUS IN GENERAL
    • B01JCHEMICAL OR PHYSICAL PROCESSES, e.g. CATALYSIS OR COLLOID CHEMISTRY; THEIR RELEVANT APPARATUS
    • B01J2219/00Chemical, physical or physico-chemical processes in general; Their relevant apparatus
    • B01J2219/00274Sequential or parallel reactions; Apparatus and devices for combinatorial chemistry or for making arrays; Chemical library technology
    • B01J2219/00583Features relative to the processes being carried out
    • B01J2219/00596Solid-phase processes
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B01PHYSICAL OR CHEMICAL PROCESSES OR APPARATUS IN GENERAL
    • B01JCHEMICAL OR PHYSICAL PROCESSES, e.g. CATALYSIS OR COLLOID CHEMISTRY; THEIR RELEVANT APPARATUS
    • B01J2219/00Chemical, physical or physico-chemical processes in general; Their relevant apparatus
    • B01J2219/00274Sequential or parallel reactions; Apparatus and devices for combinatorial chemistry or for making arrays; Chemical library technology
    • B01J2219/00583Features relative to the processes being carried out
    • B01J2219/00603Making arrays on substantially continuous surfaces
    • B01J2219/00605Making arrays on substantially continuous surfaces the compounds being directly bound or immobilised to solid supports
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B01PHYSICAL OR CHEMICAL PROCESSES OR APPARATUS IN GENERAL
    • B01JCHEMICAL OR PHYSICAL PROCESSES, e.g. CATALYSIS OR COLLOID CHEMISTRY; THEIR RELEVANT APPARATUS
    • B01J2219/00Chemical, physical or physico-chemical processes in general; Their relevant apparatus
    • B01J2219/00274Sequential or parallel reactions; Apparatus and devices for combinatorial chemistry or for making arrays; Chemical library technology
    • B01J2219/00583Features relative to the processes being carried out
    • B01J2219/00603Making arrays on substantially continuous surfaces
    • B01J2219/00605Making arrays on substantially continuous surfaces the compounds being directly bound or immobilised to solid supports
    • B01J2219/0061The surface being organic
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B01PHYSICAL OR CHEMICAL PROCESSES OR APPARATUS IN GENERAL
    • B01JCHEMICAL OR PHYSICAL PROCESSES, e.g. CATALYSIS OR COLLOID CHEMISTRY; THEIR RELEVANT APPARATUS
    • B01J2219/00Chemical, physical or physico-chemical processes in general; Their relevant apparatus
    • B01J2219/00274Sequential or parallel reactions; Apparatus and devices for combinatorial chemistry or for making arrays; Chemical library technology
    • B01J2219/00583Features relative to the processes being carried out
    • B01J2219/00603Making arrays on substantially continuous surfaces
    • B01J2219/00605Making arrays on substantially continuous surfaces the compounds being directly bound or immobilised to solid supports
    • B01J2219/00614Delimitation of the attachment areas
    • B01J2219/00621Delimitation of the attachment areas by physical means, e.g. trenches, raised areas
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B01PHYSICAL OR CHEMICAL PROCESSES OR APPARATUS IN GENERAL
    • B01JCHEMICAL OR PHYSICAL PROCESSES, e.g. CATALYSIS OR COLLOID CHEMISTRY; THEIR RELEVANT APPARATUS
    • B01J2219/00Chemical, physical or physico-chemical processes in general; Their relevant apparatus
    • B01J2219/00274Sequential or parallel reactions; Apparatus and devices for combinatorial chemistry or for making arrays; Chemical library technology
    • B01J2219/00583Features relative to the processes being carried out
    • B01J2219/00603Making arrays on substantially continuous surfaces
    • B01J2219/00639Making arrays on substantially continuous surfaces the compounds being trapped in or bound to a porous medium
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B01PHYSICAL OR CHEMICAL PROCESSES OR APPARATUS IN GENERAL
    • B01JCHEMICAL OR PHYSICAL PROCESSES, e.g. CATALYSIS OR COLLOID CHEMISTRY; THEIR RELEVANT APPARATUS
    • B01J2219/00Chemical, physical or physico-chemical processes in general; Their relevant apparatus
    • B01J2219/00274Sequential or parallel reactions; Apparatus and devices for combinatorial chemistry or for making arrays; Chemical library technology
    • B01J2219/00583Features relative to the processes being carried out
    • B01J2219/00603Making arrays on substantially continuous surfaces
    • B01J2219/00659Two-dimensional arrays
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B01PHYSICAL OR CHEMICAL PROCESSES OR APPARATUS IN GENERAL
    • B01JCHEMICAL OR PHYSICAL PROCESSES, e.g. CATALYSIS OR COLLOID CHEMISTRY; THEIR RELEVANT APPARATUS
    • B01J2219/00Chemical, physical or physico-chemical processes in general; Their relevant apparatus
    • B01J2219/00274Sequential or parallel reactions; Apparatus and devices for combinatorial chemistry or for making arrays; Chemical library technology
    • B01J2219/00583Features relative to the processes being carried out
    • B01J2219/00603Making arrays on substantially continuous surfaces
    • B01J2219/00677Ex-situ synthesis followed by deposition on the substrate
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B01PHYSICAL OR CHEMICAL PROCESSES OR APPARATUS IN GENERAL
    • B01JCHEMICAL OR PHYSICAL PROCESSES, e.g. CATALYSIS OR COLLOID CHEMISTRY; THEIR RELEVANT APPARATUS
    • B01J2219/00Chemical, physical or physico-chemical processes in general; Their relevant apparatus
    • B01J2219/00274Sequential or parallel reactions; Apparatus and devices for combinatorial chemistry or for making arrays; Chemical library technology
    • B01J2219/0068Means for controlling the apparatus of the process
    • B01J2219/00686Automatic
    • B01J2219/00689Automatic using computers
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B01PHYSICAL OR CHEMICAL PROCESSES OR APPARATUS IN GENERAL
    • B01JCHEMICAL OR PHYSICAL PROCESSES, e.g. CATALYSIS OR COLLOID CHEMISTRY; THEIR RELEVANT APPARATUS
    • B01J2219/00Chemical, physical or physico-chemical processes in general; Their relevant apparatus
    • B01J2219/00274Sequential or parallel reactions; Apparatus and devices for combinatorial chemistry or for making arrays; Chemical library technology
    • B01J2219/0068Means for controlling the apparatus of the process
    • B01J2219/00686Automatic
    • B01J2219/00691Automatic using robots
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B01PHYSICAL OR CHEMICAL PROCESSES OR APPARATUS IN GENERAL
    • B01JCHEMICAL OR PHYSICAL PROCESSES, e.g. CATALYSIS OR COLLOID CHEMISTRY; THEIR RELEVANT APPARATUS
    • B01J2219/00Chemical, physical or physico-chemical processes in general; Their relevant apparatus
    • B01J2219/00274Sequential or parallel reactions; Apparatus and devices for combinatorial chemistry or for making arrays; Chemical library technology
    • B01J2219/0068Means for controlling the apparatus of the process
    • B01J2219/00695Synthesis control routines, e.g. using computer programs
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C40COMBINATORIAL CHEMISTRY
    • C40BCOMBINATORIAL CHEMISTRY; LIBRARIES, e.g. CHEMICAL LIBRARIES, IN SILICO LIBRARIES
    • C40B60/00Apparatus specially adapted for use in combinatorial chemistry or with libraries
    • C40B60/14Apparatus specially adapted for use in combinatorial chemistry or with libraries for creating libraries
    • GPHYSICS
    • G05CONTROLLING; REGULATING
    • G05BCONTROL OR REGULATING SYSTEMS IN GENERAL; FUNCTIONAL ELEMENTS OF SUCH SYSTEMS; MONITORING OR TESTING ARRANGEMENTS FOR SUCH SYSTEMS OR ELEMENTS
    • G05B2219/00Program-control systems
    • G05B2219/30Nc systems
    • G05B2219/40Robotics, robotics mapping to robotics vision
    • G05B2219/40293Gantry, portal
    • GPHYSICS
    • G05CONTROLLING; REGULATING
    • G05BCONTROL OR REGULATING SYSTEMS IN GENERAL; FUNCTIONAL ELEMENTS OF SUCH SYSTEMS; MONITORING OR TESTING ARRANGEMENTS FOR SUCH SYSTEMS OR ELEMENTS
    • G05B2219/00Program-control systems
    • G05B2219/30Nc systems
    • G05B2219/45Nc applications
    • G05B2219/45063Pick and place manipulator

Abstract

Interference, eg collisions, between transfer units in a pick and place robot system, such as the shown gantry system for transferring samples from a common sample point SP to high-density arrays RA of biologically active substances are prevented by controlling the transfer units TU1, TU2 so that they are not at the sample point at the same time. As shown, the units move respectively in the X-direction by means of linear motors LM1x, LM2x on thrust rod TR1x, in the Y-direction by means of linear motors LM1y, LM2y on rods TR1y, TR2y, and in the Z-direction by means of linear motors LM1z, LM2z on rods TR1z, TR2z. A particular sequence of operation, wherein one transfer unit is picking up a sample while the other is depositing a sample is described (Figures 3, 4) In an alternative embodiment (Figures 5-9), the array RA is in the common central area and there is a separate sample point (SP1, SP2) at each side. In a further embodiment (Figs 10, 11), printed circuit boards on a conveyor passing through the centre of the system are fed with components by both transfer units. The method may also be applied to arm type multi-axis robots.

Description

2354842 V"ROVED PLANT The present invention relates to an improved plant

for rapid pick and place operations, enabling automated systems that return to at least one approximately fixed position to run faster than the rate of conventional systems. The invention utilises, a novel combination of robotic design, linear motor technology, and control software. The present invention further relates to a system and method for the rapid production of high- density arrays of biologically active substances.

Efficient automated systems are essential in many production processes, particularly where rapid yet accurate positioning is required for pickand-place applications. For example the creation of high-density arrays of biologically active substances.

The generation of high-density arrays of biologically active substances has become an important process to assist many fields of biological research including molecular genetics and biology. Typically, a small amount of a biologically active object or substance, for example, nucleic. acids, proteins, chemical compounds, viruses or prokaryotic/eukaryotic cells, is transferred to a defined region on a solid carrier using an automated system. The use of an automated system allows very small regions (or spots) to be defined and generated. In this way, arrays of a multiplicity of biologically, biochemically or chemically active objects or substances can be generated at densities far greater than in the forinat in which the biologically, biochemically or chemically active substances were stored. The substances can then be more efficiently

2 investigated in this high-density array format by a variety of physical, chemical or biological means. Such means include for example, fluorescent scanning, calorimetric reaction, ligand/anti-ligand reaction, nucleic acid hybridisation or cellular phenotypes.

This approach has rapidly grown in importance and has generated a significant need for the production of many such arrays. Indeed, many research groups, academic institutions and commercial companies generate such arrays including for example, the RZPD (Germany), Clontech (USA), Research Genetics (USA) and Eurogentech (France).

These arrays are typically produced using a gantry robotic system carrying a transfer unit that samples (picks) one or more substances from a container and then deposits (places) said one or more substances at predefined positions on an appropriate carrier placed on the worksurface of the robot. It is advantageous to produce many replicas of the arrays during this process, and hence the substance stored in the container may be sampled many times during the production run.

Workers skilled in the art have developed automated systems that have progressively increased the speed of these pick-and place systems for the production of biological arrays. For example, Ross et al (1992. HighDensity Gridded YAC Filters: their Potential as Genome Mapping Tools. In Techniques for the Analysis of Complex Genomes; Academic Press. Pp 137153) described a high-density arraying robot that transferred 96 biological samples in parallel from a microtitre-plate container to a nylon filter substrate using 96 transfer pins.

3 An important development was the use of quadruple density microtitre plates comprising 384 wells, compared to a standard 96 wells plate and a corresponding set of 384 pins to transfer objects or substances held in the microtitre plates (Meier-Ewert et al, 1993; Nature 254, 221-225). Recently, microtitre plates comprising 1536 wells have been produced (Greiner, Germany). However, certain biological systems (for example mammalian cell cultures) cannot be satisfactorily stored, processed or analysed at such densities, and for some applications it is necessary to use greater volumes that can be held within 1536-well (-10gl volume per well) or even 384-well (-60td per well) microtitre plates.

As well known in the art, additional robotic developments have been made to further increase the speed of producing arrays of biologically, biochemically or chemically active objects and/or substances. These include systems that can array over 860,000 spots in around three hours (Maier et al, 1996; In Automation Technologies for Genome Characterisation; Ed. Beugelsdijk; John Wiley & Sons pp 65-88), and the commercially available "Qbot" (Genetix, UK). However, the increase in speed has been achieved in these systems simply by increasing the average velocity of robotic motion while utilising simple pintransfer techniques that requires the work-tool carrying the transfer-pins to return to and to resample (pick) objects or substances from the microtitre plate before each deposition (placing).

In attempting to circumvent the problem of frequent resampling of simple pin transfer systems, other transfer systems have been developed and utilised in array production. Highly accurate pipetting systems such as the Hydra 96 (Robbins Scientific, USA) or the Hamilton 96 (Hamilton, USA) have been used. Transfer based on a pipetting approach generally means that the transfer head does not need to return to the container to resample, since sufficient 4 biologically active substance to produce all replicas can be sampled and held in the pipetting unit. However, these systems suffer the disadvantages of being limited in the positional accuracy of the syringes, a relatively large minimal volume of deposition and the comparative reliability/sensitivity of the transfer unit. Alternatively, micropipetting devices such as those described by Schober and co-workers (1993; Biotechniques 15 324-329) and produced by Microdrop (Germany), GiSM (Germany) and Canberra Packard (USA) typically have far smaller minimal transfer volumes. However, as yet, no reliable and large-scale robotic system based on a micro-pipetting transfer system has been produced. Further, the unreliability and cost of such micro-pipetting systems is prohibitive for many array-production facilities.

An important development by Shalon and co-workers (1996; Genome Res. 6 639-645 and US-A-5 807 522) was the 'split-pin' approach in which a microchannel was machined within a transfer pin. On sampling the biologically active substance, capillary action maintains a small volume of substance within the channel. This volume of substance is sufficient to provide multiple depositions to a carrier without the need for frequent sampling by the pin. However, these pins suffer from considerable substance carry-over and contamination problems since the micro-channel has been shown to be difficult to clean and sterilise between uses. Furthermore, the pin-to-pin variability in transfer volume requires very expensive machining and quality control before use in array production. Indeed, such split-pins are usually only utilised in applications that require a small number of pins, such as 16 to 24.

Transfer systems other than simple pin-transfer have been developed for array productions including those described by Cartesian Technologies(USA) Genelogic (US-A-5 843 767) and Genetic MicroSystems (Rose, 1998; JALA 3 No. 3). However, these systems typically have complicated engineering or fluidic systems, reducing their applicability for high-throughput array production.

Despite the development of these novel transfer techniques, the vast majority of biological arrays are still produced using simple-pin transfer. The reliability, cost and reproducibility of simple-pin transfer systems to produce large numbers of arrays of biologically active substances have far outweighed the disadvantage of resampling (picking) the objects or substances before each deposition (placing).

Claims (51)

  1. The present invention provides a system for rapid pick and place
    operations as deftned in Claim 1 hereinafter, or in Claim 2 hereinafter.
    The system may include the features of any one or more of dependent Claims 3 to 23.
    The present invention also provides a method for rapidly picking and placing objects and/or substances as defmed in Claim 25 hereinafter, or in Claim 26 hereinafter.
    The method may include the features of any one or more of dependent Claims 27 to 47 hereinafter.
    The present invention also provides a computer program product as defined in Claim 50 hereinafter.
    The present invention also provides electronic distribution of a computer program product as defined in Claim 51 hereinafter.
    6 The present invention may provide a system to significantly increase the speed of pick and place applications, particularly the production of highdensity arrays of biologically active substances. An advantage of the present invention may be provide low-cost and reliable simple-pin transfer to effect the transfer, and that any increase in cost of the improved system is significantly less than the improvement in production rate of the arrays.
    In the following preferred embodiments of the present invention will be described with reference to the drawings and examples.
    Figure 1 shows a general arrangement of one embodiment of the invention that provides for improved production of high-density arrays of biologically active substances. A multi-axis gantry robot has access over a work surface (WS) that comprises replica arrays (RAl to RA24), a sampling position at a position distinct from the arrays (SP) and a cleaning unit (CU). Biologically active substances are stored in containers held in a plate hotel (PH), which can be automatically accessed using the grabbing units (GU1 and GU2) of the respective transfer units (TU1 and TU2). Using simple-pin transfer, the transfer units sample (pick) substances from the containers and deposit (place) them onto the replica array carriers. The motion of the transfer units is effect by linear magnetic motors (LMnn) generating thrust using magnetic flux means and running on bearing means (TRnn).
    Figure 2 illustrates a side elevation of the embodiment shown by Figure 1. The transfer of biologically active substances from microtitre containers held at the sampling position to the replica arrays is effected using transfer pins (TP1 and TP2) carried by the transfer units (TU1 and TU2), respectively.
    7 Figure 3 represents a simultaneous action of the two transfer units (TUI and TU2) according to one embodiment of the invention.
    Figure 4 shows an order for production of replica arrays that utilises the dual transfer units of the invention. A first transfer unit initially deposits (places) samples on an array marked "l-l" and a second transfer unit first deposits (places) samples on an array marked "2-1 ". The first transfer unit then deposits (places) samples onto an array marked "1-2" and the second transfer unit then deposits (places) samples onto an array marked "2-2", etc. The order of array production is such that the two transfer units travel approximately similar distances.
    Figure 5 depicts a general arrangement of one embodiment of the invention that provides for improved production of high-density arrays of biologically active substances. A multi-axis gantry robot has access over a work surface (WS) that comprises replica arrays (RA1 to RA24), two sampling positions at positions distinct from the arrays (SP1 and SP2) and two cleaning units (CU1 and CU2). Biologically active substances are stored in microtitre plates containers held in a plate hotel (PH), which can be automatically accessed using the grabbing units (GUI and GU2) of the respective transfer units (TU1 and TU2). The transfer units sample (pick) substances from the microtitre plate containers and deposit (place) them onto the replica arrays. The motion of the transfer units is effected by linear magnetic motors (LMnn) running on thrust-rods and bearing arrangements (TRnn).
    Figure 6 represents a side elevation of the embodiment shown in Figure 5. The transfer of biologically active substances from microtitre plate containers held at the sampling positions to the replica arrays is effected using transfer pins (TP1 and TP2) carried by the transfer units (TU1 and TU2), respectively.
    8 Figure 7 shows a simultaneous action of the two transfer units (TU1 and TU2) according to one embodiment of the invention.
    Figure 8 illustrates an order for production of replica arrays that utilises the dual transfer units of the invention. A first transfer unit first deposits (places) samples on an array marked "l-24" and a second transfer unit first deposits (places) samples on an array marked "24-1 ". The first transfer unit then deposits (places) samples onto an array marked "2-23" and the second transfer unit then deposits (places) samples onto an array marked "23-2", etc. The order of array production is such that the two transfer units travel approximately similar distances.
    Figure 9 illustrates an arrangement for arraying different biologically active substances onto different regions of an array by utilising two transfer units. The region number is shown in the top left of each region, while the transfer unit that deposits (places) substances is shown together with the microtitre plate container number from which the biological substances were sampled (picked).
    Figure 10 shows an arrangement for a gantry robot with two transfer units (TU1 and TU2) that move simultaneously to transfer electronic components from two sampling position (SP1 and SP2) respectively onto printed circuit boards (PCBs) moved into and out of the system by production line (PL).
    Figure 11 represents one stage of the pick and place cycle shown by a side elevation of the system shown in Figure 10. The first transfer unit (TUI) picks a component delivered to sampling position (SPI.) by component-reel (CR1) as the second transfer unit (TU2) places a component into PCB1.
    9 Example I This example describes a robot with increased speed for the production of highdensity arrays of biologically active substances, using a single sampling position.
    The general arrangement of an improved spotting robot for the production of high-density arrays is shown in Figure 1. The arrangement generally comprises a large work surface (WS) on which replica arrays (RAl to RA24) are produced by accurate positioning of pin transfer units (TU1 and TU2) which respectively sample (pick) biological material which can be held in 384-well microtitre plate containers at sampling position (SP). The sampling position is distinctly positioned from the replica arrays. The first transfer unit (TUl) is positioned using a three axis gantry robot consisting of linear magnetic motor units (Linear Drives Ltd UK) - one for each dimension of motion - (LMlx, LMly and LMlz), each running on a bearing and magnetic thrust rod arrangement (TRlx, TRly and TR1z). The second transfer unit (TU2) is positioned using three linear magnetic motor units (LM2x, LM2y and LM2z). Linear motors (LM2y and LM2z) run on separate bearing and thrust rod arrangements (TR2y and TR2z), while linear motor (LM2x) runs on TRlx, the same bearing and thrust rod arrangement as linear motor (LMix). It should be recognised, that a second pair of major drive motors (X axis) may be utilised on a further parallel trust-rod and bearing arrangement (TR2x) in order to provide for further speed and positional accuracy of each transfer unit.
    An advantageous feature of linear magnetic motors such as those supplied by Linear Drives Ltd (Essex, UK) is that more than one motor unit can travel on the same thrust-rod and bearing arrangement. The positions of the multiple motor units are recorded and controlled using an encoder communicating to an appropriate multi-axis servo-controller. The use of such multi-motor linear drive technology enables both transfer units to move within the same workenvelope over the replica arrays. However, it will be recognised by a person skilled in the art following this disclosure of invention that similar solutions may be effected using other linear motion robotics. These include for example, independent worm-drive or belt linear motors configured in the X-axis, each positioning a separate transfer unit. Said two linear motors positioned next to or above/below of each other, or positioned on either side of the work surface.
    Instead of gantry robots two appropriate multiaxis arm robots (Becknian, USA; Mitsubishi, Japan) may also be used to effect the motion of the two transfer units over the work surface.
    Samples for transfer are stored in 384-well microtitre plate containers held in a plate hotel (PH) positioned to one side of the system. Individual plates can be automatically accessed in the plate hotel and placed on the sampling positions (SP) by the grabbing units (GU1 and GU2) of the respective transfer units.
    Figure 6 displays a side view of the invention. When all samples have been transferred to all replica arrays from a given microtitre plate, the 2 dimensional array of 384 transfer pins (TRI and TP2) carried by each transfer unit are sequentially cleaned in the cleaning unit (CU). The microtitre -plate is then replaced in the plate hotel and a further microtitre plate is automatically accessed. To minimise overall running time, one transfer unit can be replacing a microtitre plate while the other is being cleaned.
    The invention provides for an improved speed of array production by following a spotting cycle of pick and place movements using the two transfer units I I simultaneously. By the use of both transfer units simultaneously, almost twice the overall spotting speed can be achieved from a single arraying system.
    First, the desired microtitre plate containing biologically active substances to be arrayed is automatically accessed from the plate hotel and placed into the sampling position using the grabbing units of a transfer unit.
    Second, the spotting cycle begins with the first transfer unit (TUl) positioned above the sample point (Figure 7a).
    Third, the first transfer unit (TUI.) samples (picks) from the sampling position (SP) by dipping pins (TPl) into the wells of the microtitre plate (Figure 7b) and then the first transfer unit (TU1) moves to a position above that to which the substances are to be arrayed (Figure 7c).
    Fourth, as the first transfer unit (TU1) deposits (places) the objects or substances carried by pins (TPI.) onto the first replica array carrier, the pins (TP2) of the second transfer unit (TU2) sample (pick) from the microtitre plate container held at the second sampling position (SP2); see Figure 7d. The second transfer unit (TU2) then moves to a position above that to which the samples are to be arrayed as the first transfer unit (TUI) moves back to a position above the first sampling position (SP1); see Figure 7e.
    Fifth, the second transfer unit (TU2) then places the samples on an array as the first transfer unit (TUl) samples (picks) further biological substances from the microtitre plate (Figure 7f). The first transfer unit (TUl) then moves to a position above the next replica array while the second transfer unit (TU2) moves back to a position above the second sampling position (SP2); see Figure 7g. Finally, as the first transfer unit (TUl) deposits (places) the substances 12 carried by pins (TPl) onto this replica array, the pins (TP2) of the second transfer unit (TU2) sample from the microtitre plate held at the second sampling position (SP2); see Figure 7h.
    This basic cycle is repeated until all samples in the microtitre plate have been transferred to all replica array carriers. The pins of each transfer unit are cleaned using a cleaning unit (CU), and the microtitre plate can then be automatically exchanged with others held in the plate hotel to provide for further biological substances to be arrayed without user intervention. Such arrays may be generated at densities between I and 10,000 substances per square centimetre and be arrayed on various substrate carriers (Maier, E. et al 1997 Drug Discovery Today 2, 315-324). Said carriers may for example, be microtitre plates, porous or non- porous surfaces or growth medium. The use of a system as characterised by the invention provides for 24 replica arrays carrying over 55,000 biologically active substances to be made in around 3 hours.
    The optimum speed and reliability of array production using the design of the invention is achieved by using appropriate software to control the simultaneous motion of the dual transfer units.
    First, it is advantageous that the order in which the replica arrays are accessed by the two transfer units is such that each transfer unit travels substantially similar distances. For example, Figure 4 shows one such order of access for the two transfer units when accessing all 24 replica arrays. Methods by which such patterns and how they can be programmed into appropriate control software such that they dictate the motion of the transfer units are well known in the art.
    13 Second, although the two transfer units travel approximately similar distances for each move, it is advantageous to independently control the speed and ti i of motion for each transfer unit such that the start and finish of motion occur at effectively the same time. For example, by programming a multi- axis/multi-coordinate system servo controller such as the Delta Tau PMAC 2 (Delta Tau, USA), appropriate check flags reporting the start and finish of synchronous motion can be provided. Further, the required motion profile of a given transfer unit can be calculated so that total travel time is essentially identical for each transfer unit. For example, total motion-travel times can be calculated by an appropriate program in the servo-controller and then used to set the acceleration and speed profiles for each transfer unit using the appropriate commands of the servo-controller. The servo controller then ensures that these profiles are matched by automatically increasing or decreasing the appropriate gains and velocities for the appropriate motor such that the transfer units start and stop their motion substantially simultaneously, and that the overall motion profile of each transfer unit is matched. It is preferred that the servo controller is programmed to control a 6dimensional vector move, where each dimension is an axis of motion for one of the two transfer units.
    Third, it is required that the transfer units or Y-axes are prevented from colliding. This cannot be made by physical means since a feature of the invention is that both transfer units can travel within the same work envelope over the sampling position. Therefore, collision-prevention must be controlled using the system software. For example, by using the 'PLCO' program of a Delta Tau PMAC servo controller, the actual positions of the two transfer units and/or axes can be actively monitored. Using this program feature, the actual positions of all axes are constantly compared, and the system can instantaneously respond or be halted by the program automatically issuing an 14 appropriate command if the axes come within a pre-defined distance of each other.
    Example 2 This example refers to a spotting robot with increased speed for the production of high-density arrays of biologically active substances, using two sampling positions.
    The general arrangement of an improved spotting robot for the production of high-density arrays is shown in Figure 5. This example essentially corresponds to Example 1 described above except that the pin transfer units (TUl and TU2), respectively, sample biological material held in 384well microtitre plate containers at individual sampling positions (SP1 and SP2). The sampling positions are distinctly positioned from each other and from the replica arrays. Individual plates can be automatically accessed from the plate hotel (PH) and placed on either of the sampling positions (SP1 or SP2) by the grabbing units (GU1 and GU2) of the respective transfer units.
    Figure 6 displays a side view of this embodiment of the present invention. When all samples have been transferred to all replica arrays from two given microtitre plates, the 2 dimensional array of 384 transfer pins (TP1 and TP2) carried by each transfer unit are cleaned in the respective cleaning unit (CU1 and CU2). The microtitre plate is then replaced in the plate hotel and a further microtitre plate automatically accessed.
    The invention provides for an improved speed of array production by following a cycle of spotting (pick and place) movements using the two transfer units simultaneously. By the use of both transfer units simultaneously, an increase in the overall spotting speed can be achieved from a single arraying system.
    First, two desired microtitre plates containing biologically active substances to be arrayed are automatically accessed from the plate hotel and placed into each of the two sampling positions using the grabbing units of the respective transfer units.
    Second, the spotting cycle begins with both transfer units positioned above their respective sampling positions (Figure 7a).
    Third, the first transfer unit (TUI) samples (picks) from the first sampling position (SPI) by dipping pins (TP1) into the wells of the microtitre plate (Figure 7b) and then the first transfer unit (TUI) moves to a position above that to which the substances are to be arrayed (Figure 7c).
    Fourth, as the first transfer unit (TU1) deposits (places) the substances carried by pins (TPl) onto the first replica array, the pins (TP2) of the second transfer unit (TU2) sample (pick) from the microtitre plate held at the second sampling position (SP2); see Figure 7d. The second transfer unit (TU2) then moves to a position above that to which the samples are to be deposited (placed) as the first transfer unti (TUI) moves back to a position above the first sampling position (SP1); see Figure 7e.
    Fifth, the second transfer unit (TU2) then deposits (places) the samples on an array as the first transfer unit (TUl) samples (picks) further biological substances from the microtitre plate (Figure 7f). The first transfer unti (TUI.) then moves to a position above the next replica array while the second transfer unit (TU2) moves back to a position above the second sampling position (SP2); 16 see Figure 7g. Finally, as the first transfer unit (TUl) deposits (places) the substances carried by the pins (TPl) onto this replica array, the pins (TP2) of the second transfer unit (TU2) are dipped into the microtitre plate held at the second sampling position (SP2); see Figure 7h.
    This basic cycle is repeated until all samples in both microtitre plates have been transferred on all replica arrays. The pins of each transfer unit are cleaned using cleaning units (CU1 and CU2), respectively, and the microtitre plates can then be automatically exchanged with others from the plate hotel to provide for further biological substances to be transferred without user intervention.
    As described in Example 1, the optimum speed and reliability of array production using the design of the invention is achieved by using appropriate software to control the simultaneous motion of the dual transfer units. A corresponding order of access for the two transfer units when accessing all 24 replica arrays for this embodiment of the invention is shown in Figure 8. Following disclosure in Example 1, similar timing and anti-collision control software can be incorporated into this embodiment of the invention.
    Controlling for any variability in the positional accuracy between the two transfer units enables high-precision positioning of either of the transfer units. This may be achieved in a number of ways depending on the transfer application.
    Those applications in which transfer is made by a single point (for example a single pin or electrical wire), each point can be positioncalibrated and the variation in positional accuracy between the points on the two transfer units can be compensated by the control software. For example, accurate physical measurements of the pointing-position may be made and entered into the 17 control software such that any variation between the two points is compensated in the overall motion of the transfer unit. Alternatively and preferably, the position of each point is calculated using automated vision-calibration systems (Krishnaswamy and Agapakis, 1997; In Automation Technologies for Genome Characterisation; Ed. Beugelsdijk; John Wiley & Sons pp 89-106). The automatically determined calibration values are then used within the motion control software to compensate for positional variability between the points.
    The application described in this example however, utilises the parallel and simultaneous transfer of 384 substances using 384 transfer-pins. In such cases, positional variation between the transfer units is more difficult to compensate by mechanical means beyond a certain positional tolerance. This is because the two-dimensional arrangement of the pinarray means that there may be variation in both the plane and rotation of each unit. Furthermore, within an array each transfer pin has an individual pointing-accuracy.
    Including adjustment means or additional axes into the robotic system to effect modification to the plane and rotation may compensate the first sources of variation. However the second source of variation cannot be effected by a simple software-hardware calibration. In this case, it is advantageous to program the system so that each transfer unit transfers different substances to a different region of each replica array. For example, two transfer heads may reliably produce replica arrays where each array comprises 6 separate spotting regions; each carrying biological samples from 4 microtitre plates. Regions 1 to 3 (carrying samples from microtitre plates 1 to 12) are arrayed by a first transfer unit, while regions 4 to 6 (carrying samples from microtitre plates 13 to 24) are arrayed by a second transfer unit. Variation in rotation and plane of the two transfer units are allowed for by programming narrow strips between each region free from samples, and utilising spring loaded transfer-pins 18 respectively. Figure 9 shows an example replica array, whereby each transfer unit arrays a different set of substances to different regions of the replica array.
    Example 3 This example relates to an iinproved automated insertion of electronic components into printed circuit boards.
    The general arrangement of an improved system for the automated insertion of electronic components into printed circuits boards (PCBs) is shown in Figure 10. This embodiment of the invention generally comprises a production line or transport unit (PL) on which replica printed circuit boards (PCB1 to PC135) are moved into and out of the system. Two distinct sampling positions (SP1 and SP2) from which electronic components are automatically delivered by independent transport units. For example, resistors stored within a plastic component-reel are delivered to a first sampling position (SPl), while diodes are likewise delivered to a second sampling position (SP2). Two transfer units (TU1 and TU2) that can be independently positioned and comprise appropriate work-tools, collect (pick) electronic components from the respective sampling positions and insert (place) them into the replica PCBs. The independent motion, positioning and control of two transfer units are effected by linear magnetic motors (Linear Drives, UK) or by other linear or arm robots, as described above.
    The transfer units (TU1 and TU2) are utilised simultaneously in a manner similar to that disclosed in Example 1. An electronic component is delivered to the first sampling position (SPI) by component reel (CR1), and is collected (picked) by the first transfer unit (TUI) as the second transfer unit (TU2) inserts the component previously collected (picked) from the second sampling 19 position (SP2) into the desired location of PCB 1 (Figure 11). The first transfer unit (TUI) then inserts (places) the collected (picked) component into PCB1 as the second transfer unit (TU2) collects (picks) a further component delivered to the second sampling position (SP2) by the second component reel (CR2). When all required components of the types delivered by both component reels (CR1 and CR2) have been inserted (placed) into PCB1, PCB2 is automatically positioned within the system by the production line (PL), and the cycle is repeated.
    The control software and control of positional variability between transfer units as disclosed in Example 1 will be applicable to this embodiment of the invention.
    Claims 1. A system for rapid pick and place operations, comprising:
    (a) a multi-axis robot comprising at least two transfer units having access over a work surface; and (b) at least one sampling position for objects and/or substances to be transferred being accessible for each of said transfer units, wherein said transfer units do not interfere with each other when in operation.
  2. 2. A system for rapid pick and place operations, comprising:
    (a) at least two multi-axis robot units having access over a work surface, wherein each of said multi-axis robots comprises at least one transfer unit; and (b) at least one sampling position for objects and/or substances to be transferred being accessible for each of said transfer units, wherein said transfer units do not interfere with each other when in operation.
  3. 3. The system of claim 1 or 2 further comprising control means for effecting movement of said multi-axis robot(s).
  4. 4. The system of claim 3, wherein said control means are adapted to effect independent movement of said multi-axis robot(s) with respect to all axis.
  5. 5. The system of any of claim 3 or 4, wherein said control means is adapted to effect a first of said transfer units to pick while a second of said transfer units is effected to place and vice versa.
  6. 6. The system of any of claims 3 to 5, wherein said transfer units and/or multi-axis robots are controlled to travel substantially the same distances 21 for a given step in a Pick and place cycle.
  7. 7. The system of any of claims 3 to 6, wherein said control means is adapted to effect substantially simultaneous movement of said transfer units and/or said multi-axis robot(s) so that the overall motion profiles thereof substantially match with one another.
  8. 8. The system of any of claims 3 to 7, wherein said control means is adapted to effect placing of said objects and/or substances to be transferred such that each set of substances in one respective placing region is generated by only one respective transfer unit, wherein relative positional errors between said transfer units are miniunised.
  9. 9. The system of any of claims 2 to 8, wherein said transfer units are moved by at least two interleaved multi-axis gantry robots or at least two armrobots.
  10. 10. The system of any of claims 1 to 9, wherein said transfer units are moved by means of at least one linear motor within a multi-axis gantry robot.
  11. 11. The system of claim 10, wherein said transfer units are moved by at least two separate linear motors running on common bearing means.
  12. 12. The system of any of claims 1 to 11, wherein said transfer units are moved by means of linear magnetic motors generating thrust using magnetic flux means and running on bearing means, wherein one or more of said bearing means can be provided in common for said transfer units or separately.
  13. 13. The system of any of claims 10 to 12, wherein each of said transfer units 22 are moved by at least two separate linear magnetic motors generating thrust using the same magnetic flux means and running on common bearing means.
  14. 14. The system of any of claims 1 to 13, wherein said system transfers objects and/or substances which are biologically, biochemically or chemically active.
  15. 15. The system of claim 14, wherein said biologically, biochemically or chemically active objects and/or substances are chosen from the groupcomprising nucleic acids, analogs of nucleic acids, proteins, peptides, analogs of proteins and/or peptides, small-molecules, viruses, prokaryotic cells and eukaryotic cells.
  16. 16. The system of any of claims 1 to 15, wherein said transfer unit comprises at least one pipette, micropipetting device, pin and/or pipette array, micropipetting device array or pin array.
  17. 17. The system of any of claims 1 to 16, wherein each transfer unit comprises at least one grabbing means.
  18. 18. The system of any of claims I to 17, wherein each of said at least one sampling position comprises at least one container.
  19. 19. The system of any of claims 1 to 18, wherein each of said at least one sampling position comprises at least one multiwell container.
  20. 20. The system of claims 18 or 19, wherein said container or multiwell container is designed to be held in container or multiwell container storage 23 means accessible to said multi-axis robot.
  21. 21. The system of any of claims 1 to 20, wherein said work surface comprises at least one deposition position for depositing thereon said ob ects and/or j substances, at least one sampling position and/or at least one cleaning unit.
  22. 22. The system of claim 21, wherein at said deposition position regions of transferred objects and/or substances are arranged at densities of 1 to 100, preferably 100 to 500, more preferably 500 to 1000, most preferably more than 1000 regions per square centimetre.
  23. 23. The system of any of claims 1 to 22 which is located in a conditioning chamber and/or room.
  24. 24. A system for rapid pick and place operation substantially as hereinbefore described with reference to, and/or as illustrated in, any one or more of the Figures of the accompanying drawings.
  25. 25. A method for rapidly picking and placing objects and/or substances, comprising the steps of:
    (a) providing a multi-axis robot comprising at least two transfer units having access over a work surface; (b) providing at least one sampling position for said ob ects and/or substances to be transferred being accessible to each of said transfer units; and (c) moving said transfer units independently from one another, wherein said transfer units do not interfere with each other when in operation.
    24
  26. 26. A method for rapidly picking and placing objects and/or substances, comprising the steps of:
    (a) providing at least two multi-axis robots having access over a work surface, wherein each of said multi-axis robots comprises at least one transfer unit; (b) providing at least one sampling position for said objects and/or substances to be transferred being accessible to each of said transfer units; and (c) moving said transfer units independently from one another, wherein said transfer units do not interfere with each other when in operation.
  27. 27. The method of claim 25 or 26, wherein said multi-axis robot(s) are controlled to move independently from one another with respect to all axis.
  28. 28. The method of any of claims 26 to 27, wherein a first of said transfer units is effected to pick while a second of said transfer units is effected to place and vice versa.
  29. 29. The method of any of claims 25 to 28, wherein said transfer units and/or said multi-axis robots are controlled to travel substantially the same distances for a given step in a picking and placing cycle.
  30. 30. The method of any of claims 25 to 29, wherein said simultaneous movement of said respective transfer units and/or said multi-axis robot(s) is effected so that the overall motion profiles thereof substantially match with one another.
  31. 3 1. The method of any of claims 26 to 30, wherein said transfer units are moved by at least two interleaved multi-axis gantry robots or at least two arm- robots.
  32. 32. The method of any of claims 25 to 3 1, wherein said transfer units are moved by means of at least one linear motor within a multi-axis gantry robot.
  33. 33. The method of claim 32, wherein said transfer units are moved by at least two separate linear motors running on common bearing means.
  34. 34. The method of any of claims 25 to 33, wherein said transfer units are moved by means of linear magnetic motors generating thrust using magnetic flux means and running on bearing means, wherein one or more of said bearing means can be provided in common for said transfer units or separately.
  35. 35. The method of any of claims 32 to 34, wherein each of said transfer units are moved by two separate linear magnetic motors generating thrust using the same magnetic flux means and running on common bearing means.
  36. 36. The method of any of claims 25 to 35, wherein the placing of said objects and/or substances to be transferred is effected such that each set of substances in one respective placing region is generated by only one respective transfer unit, wherein relative positional errors between said transfer units are minimized.
  37. 37. The method of claims 25 to 36, wherein said system transfers objects and/or substances which are biologically, biochemically or chemically active.
  38. 38. The method of claim 37, wherein said biologically, biochemically or chemically active substances are chosen from the group comprising nucleic acids, analogs of nucleic acids, proteins, peptides, analogs of proteins and/or 26 peptides, small-molecules, viruses, prokaryotic cells and eukaryotic cells.
  39. 39. The method of any of claims 25 to 38, wherein said transfer unit is provided with at least one pipette, micropipetting device, pin and/or pipette array, micropipetting device array or pin array.
  40. 40. The method of any of claims 25 to 39, wherein each transfer unit comprises at least one grabbing means.
  41. 41. The method of any of claims 25 to 40, wherein said at least one sampli g position comprises at least one container.
  42. 42. The method of claims 25 to 41, wherein said at least one sampling positions is provided with at least one multiwell container.
  43. 43. The method of claims 41 or 42, wherein said container or muldwell. container is held in a container or multiwell container storage means.
  44. 44. The method of any of claims 25 to 43, wherein said work surface is provided with at least one deposition position for depositing thereon objects and/or substances, at least one sampling position and/or at least one cleaning unit.
  45. 45. The method of claim 44, wherein at said deposition position distinct regions of transferred objects and/or substances are arranged at densities of 1 to 100, preferably 100 to 500, more preferably 500 to 1000, most preferably more than 1000 regions per square centimetre.
  46. 46. The method of claim 45, wherein each deposition position is visited 27 multiple times during the production of said arrangement, each time carrying a further sample of objects and/or substances.
  47. 47. The method of any of claims 25 to 46 further comprising the step of controlling the climate.
  48. 48. A method for rapidly prick and placing objects and/or substances, substantially as hereinbefore described with reference to, and/or illustrated in, any one or more of the Figures of the accompanying drawings.
  49. 49. A computer program product directly loadable into the internal memory of a digital computer, comprising software code portions for performing the steps of a method according to any of Claims 25 to 48 when said product is run on a computer.
  50. 50. A computer program product stored on a computer usable medium, comprising: computer readable program means for causing a computer to control operation of a multi-axis robot comprising at least two transfer units having access over a work surface; computer readable program means for causing the computer to control provision of at least one sampling position for said objects and/or substances to be transferred being accessible to each of said transfer units; and computer readable program means for causing the computer to control moving said transfer units independently from one another, wherein said transfer units do not interfere with each other when in operation.
  51. 51. Electronic distribution of a software program according to Claim 49 or 50.
GB9923101A 1999-10-01 1999-10-01 Pick and place robot system Expired - Fee Related GB2354842B (en)

Priority Applications (1)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
GB9923101A GB2354842B (en) 1999-10-01 1999-10-01 Pick and place robot system

Applications Claiming Priority (1)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
GB9923101A GB2354842B (en) 1999-10-01 1999-10-01 Pick and place robot system

Publications (3)

Publication Number Publication Date
GB9923101D0 GB9923101D0 (en) 1999-12-01
GB2354842A true true GB2354842A (en) 2001-04-04
GB2354842B GB2354842B (en) 2002-06-19

Family

ID=10861854

Family Applications (1)

Application Number Title Priority Date Filing Date
GB9923101A Expired - Fee Related GB2354842B (en) 1999-10-01 1999-10-01 Pick and place robot system

Country Status (1)

Country Link
GB (1) GB2354842B (en)

Cited By (2)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
WO2003015912A2 (en) * 2001-08-21 2003-02-27 Van Andel Research Institute Multiplexed cartesian-based split-platter microarrayer and method of production of microarrays
US20110233175A1 (en) * 2008-09-01 2011-09-29 Nederlandse Organisatie Voor Toegepast- Natuurwetenschappelijk Onderzoek Tno Pick-and-place machine

Citations (6)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
EP0189573A2 (en) * 1984-12-31 1986-08-06 Westinghouse Electric Corporation System for optical monitoring of machine positions
US4824633A (en) * 1986-09-26 1989-04-25 Hitachi, Ltd. Method and apparatus for controlling refuelling machine of reactor
US4890241A (en) * 1987-10-26 1989-12-26 Megamation Incorporated Robotic system
GB2225132A (en) * 1988-10-04 1990-05-23 Gec Electrical Projects "Robot systems"
US5002448A (en) * 1987-01-20 1991-03-26 Yamaha Hatsudoki Kabushiki Kaisha Circuit board assembling device
US5247608A (en) * 1991-04-01 1993-09-21 At&T Bell Laboratories Method and apparatus for achieving dynamic path control of multiple robots

Patent Citations (6)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
EP0189573A2 (en) * 1984-12-31 1986-08-06 Westinghouse Electric Corporation System for optical monitoring of machine positions
US4824633A (en) * 1986-09-26 1989-04-25 Hitachi, Ltd. Method and apparatus for controlling refuelling machine of reactor
US5002448A (en) * 1987-01-20 1991-03-26 Yamaha Hatsudoki Kabushiki Kaisha Circuit board assembling device
US4890241A (en) * 1987-10-26 1989-12-26 Megamation Incorporated Robotic system
GB2225132A (en) * 1988-10-04 1990-05-23 Gec Electrical Projects "Robot systems"
US5247608A (en) * 1991-04-01 1993-09-21 At&T Bell Laboratories Method and apparatus for achieving dynamic path control of multiple robots

Cited By (3)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
WO2003015912A2 (en) * 2001-08-21 2003-02-27 Van Andel Research Institute Multiplexed cartesian-based split-platter microarrayer and method of production of microarrays
WO2003015912A3 (en) * 2001-08-21 2003-07-03 Brian A Haab Multiplexed cartesian-based split-platter microarrayer and method of production of microarrays
US20110233175A1 (en) * 2008-09-01 2011-09-29 Nederlandse Organisatie Voor Toegepast- Natuurwetenschappelijk Onderzoek Tno Pick-and-place machine

Also Published As

Publication number Publication date Type
GB9923101D0 (en) 1999-12-01 grant
GB2354842B (en) 2002-06-19 grant

Similar Documents

Publication Publication Date Title
US5776674A (en) Chemical biochemical and biological processing in thin films
US6428752B1 (en) Cleaning deposit devices that form microarrays and the like
US5326691A (en) Micro-libraries and methods of making and manipulating them methods for generating and analyzing micro-libraries
US5955373A (en) Environmentally controlled system for processing chemical products
US6929944B2 (en) Analysis using a distributed sample
Schena DNA microarrays: a practical approach
Gillmor et al. Hydrophilic/hydrophobic patterned surfaces as templates for DNA arrays
US6365349B1 (en) Apparatus and methods for arraying solution onto a solid support
US8361713B2 (en) System and apparatus for sequential processing of analytes
US6309891B1 (en) Capillary printing systems
EP0317286A2 (en) Magnetic separation device and methods for use in heterogeneous assays
US5667667A (en) Electrochemical treatment of surfaces
US6132685A (en) High throughput microfluidic systems and methods
Khan et al. DNA microarray technology: the anticipated impact on the study of human disease
US6268131B1 (en) Mass spectrometric methods for sequencing nucleic acids
Kitano Foundations of systems biology
Lemieux et al. Overview of DNA chip technology
Nagai et al. Development of a microchamber array for picoliter PCR
US20020187509A1 (en) Methods for detecting interaction between a test moiety and a plurality of target moieties
US7833719B2 (en) Apparatus and methods for parallel processing of micro-volume liquid reactions
US6653124B1 (en) Array-based microenvironment for cell culturing, cell monitoring and drug-target validation
US20090042281A1 (en) Compound profiling devices, systems, and related methods
US5916526A (en) Compartmentalized multi-well container
Ronaghi et al. Real-time DNA sequencing using detection of pyrophosphate release
US20030044777A1 (en) Flowthrough devices for multiple discrete binding reactions

Legal Events

Date Code Title Description
PCNP Patent ceased through non-payment of renewal fee

Effective date: 20051001