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Motor Technology Options for Handheld Electronic Pipettes

March 31, 2022

Pipettes are essential laboratory tools that facilitate the transfer of liquid samples from one test receptacle to another. Though pipettes have existed for over a century, modern-day iterations share little with older designs; this is largely due to the shifting nature of laboratory procedures towards utilizing motorized tools and equipment. The inclusion of miniature electric motors within the pipette is an excellent example of this trend.

What Mini Motor Options Exist for Handheld Electronic Pipettes

Both stepper and brush DC motors are small and lightweight, which makes them an ideal selection for pipetting applications. Let’s explore these motor technologies more in detail:

Stepper MotorsStepper motors, especially linear stepper motors or digital linear actuators (DLA), are ideal solutions for electronic pipettes. The linear movement required for operating the device is provided by the built-in lead screw interfacing directly with the pipette’s piston. These motors are easily controlled because of the motor’s incremental rotation at each current pulse, and accuracy and repeatability are assured because of the motor’s linear travel accuracy. No additional accessories are required for controlling the motor.
Brush DC Motors. Because a coreless brush DC motor’s rotor is composed only of a coil and a shaft, it doesn’t experience any iron losses; this also improves the efficiency and acceleration of the motor, especially in comparison to iron core motors. As electronic pipettes are battery-powered, this increase in efficiency leads to usage over longer periods on a single charge. Keep in mind that, unlike stepper motors, a brush DC motor does require additional components like encoders for the conversion of rotational motion into linear motion and control of the motor.

The Benefits of Using Mini Motors in Electronic Pipettes

There are several benefits realized using electric miniature motors in electronic pipettes. Three key advantages include:

Improved Accuracy and RepeatabilityMini motors in electronic pipettes facilitate the accuracy and precision in dispensing the liquid samples; the typical resolution is 1 microliter per increment, with inaccuracy below 1%. These motors are also key in ensuring repeatability so that identical volumes of liquid are dispensed during each manipulation.
Enhanced User ComfortabilityElectronic pipettes require fewer hand movements than traditional pipettes. In fact, the user only needs to click a button to fill, empty, and (sometimes) eject the tip! This results in improved user comfort and less risk of repetitive injury strain.
Increased Productivity. Mechanical pipettes simply can’t perform as quickly as electronic pipettes, due to the latter’s built-in automation. This means that the number of samples processed over a given amount of time by electronic pipettes is higher

Want to explore Portescap’s miniature motor technologies for electronic pipettes further? Check out those solutions here!