We’ve all heard the saying, “Intel Inside.” The Intel Corporation started the “Intel Inside” marketing campaign in 1991, and it still holds power today. That logo communicated to the customer that the Intel brand of microprocessors were the “brains” of the personal computer you were buying. This type of marketing is referred to as Ingredient Branding.
Several other companies have since followed the same advertising strategy – NutraSweet® with Diet Pepsi; Gore-Tex® with The North Face outerwear; Microban® for antimicrobial surfaces; Techron® with Chevron gasoline. The list can go on. The key to a successful Ingredient Brand strategy is combining quality and well-known technology to add value to your end-user product. The quality makes the difference.
Speaking of quality and technology, let me introduce you to BioDot. BioDot was founded in 1994 to meet the growing demands in the medical diagnostic test manufacturing space for automated ultra-low volume, precision, non-contact dispensing. This is where BioDot's Discrete Droplet Dispensing™ technology was born and nearly 30 years and 25+ patents later has generated the industry standard liquid dispense instrumentation for lateral flow diagnostic test strip manufacturing.
The fundamental core of BioDot’s patented dispense technology is how we perform dispense droplet formation. Our Discrete Droplet Dispensing™ technology allows you to tune your instrument to dispense an exact desired volume as an individual droplet. For example, if 100nL was the volume of interest, we would not dispense 5 drops of 20nLs each to "build" a 100nL droplet, we would dispense a single drop of exactly 100nL. Now you might be thinking to yourself, "But 100nL is 100nL whether it's made from 1 discrete 100nL drop or 5 20nL droplets." Of course, but what if an assay optimally performs with a 90nL volume of reagent instead? If a dispenser can only build droplets in increments of 20nL you'll have to settle for 80nL or 100nL total dispense volume.
Is that level of inaccuracy acceptable for a successful test reaction? Maybe. Maybe not. But wouldn’t you rather hit 90nL on the money regardless? That's why having the ability to tune a discrete droplet to a precise volume is a critical functionality for test optimization. On top of improved accuracy, dispensing a target volume as a single droplet instead of multiple droplets is often faster as well. While speed and accuracy are often in direct opposition to one another, it's a special feat when a single technology can optimize both simultaneously.
Now as useful as the ability to dispense discrete single droplets across the nanoliter range is, some applications demand even lower volumes. For that reason, we’ve developed Discrete Droplet Dispensing™ technology to cover the picoliter volume range too. In fact, BioDot's Rainmaker™ Dispensers can create droplets as small as 25pL. For comparison, the lower size limit of an object that can be seen by the naked human eye is ~40µm (microns) in diameter while a 25pL liquid droplet is ~36µm across. In other words, the Rainmaker dispenser can dispense liquid droplets so small they’re only visible under a microscope
As I briefly touched upon earlier, our core business has long been in the diagnostics manufacturing industry, developing, selling, and supporting our dispensing technologies. BioDot’s branded XYZ motion platforms have been used in diagnostic production facilities for applications ranging from lateral flow to biochips and biosensors. Our products are at the core of billions of diagnostics tests for infectious diseases like COVID-19, HIV, and the ever-growing demand for glucose monitoring test strips. In addition
to supporting leading diagnostic manufacturing partners, we have disrupted the Cytogenetics life sciences by offering an automated solution for FISH (Fluorescent-In-Situ-Hybridization) and karyotyping (KT). Our CellWriter™S platform miniaturizes the process, reducing laboratory needs for expensive probe by 10-fold to 20-fold. Decreased probe use saves clinical diagnostic labs upwards of $100,000/year.
Most recently, BioDot has entered the general life sciences space. This should come as no surprise, given that reagent and sample volumes for assays in the sciences are miniaturizing. As the volumes fall below 1µL, traditional liquid handling companies like Tecan, Hamilton, Agilent, and Eppendorf struggle to dispense without sacrificing quality.
For applications like low volume PCR, micro-ELISA, Direct Titration, Protein Crystallography, Single-Cell Proteomics/Sequencing, Microarray/Plate Array, and more, non-contact, low volume dispensing is a growing trend (or should I say shrinking trend?) in the life sciences. Let’s look at an example for Low Volume PCR. If a total reaction volume is currently at 50µL, it will use approximately 0.5µL of Taq (DNA polymerase). If you want to reduce the total volume used 20µL, you will also need to dispense 0.2µL of Taq.
A hand pipette instrument generally cannot dispense lower than 0.2µL, and that requires some finesse from the technician. Now translate that skill to an automated liquid handler, where there is no technician tilting the tube to ensure the dispense is made in the desired location and at the designated volume. A somewhat difficult, but doable step in a manual PCR workflow would be a significant struggle for traditional liquid handling robotics that can’t reliably pipette much below 1uL. For BioDot dispensing 0.2µL is a cake walk.
This is where BioDot’s core competency of dispensing small volumes is so useful. We initially started by focusing on small volumes in the diagnostics manufacturing sphere because life science applications didn’t need ultra-low volume dispensing at the time. That need is now here and growing exponentially. As life science applications miniaturize, sub 1uL dispensing technology must be incorporated as “part” of the overall scientific solution.
Now that you know what BioDot can do let’s circle back to the initial concepts of “Ingredient Branding” and “Intel Inside”. When laboratory instrumentation companies are pushing the boundaries of automated life science application workflows, such as packing as many unique assay targets in the smallest microarray chip possible, isolating single cells for downstream genomic analysis, or simply miniaturizing an assay as much as possible to conserve costly reagents and samples they need a class leading integrated liquid dispenser that will reliably and quickly deliver highly accurate, discrete fluid droplets. They need the life science version of the “Intel Inside” to be their small volume liquid dispensing engine. Or simply put, they need an Engine for Science™. So regardless of whether your need is to dispense nL volumes, pL volumes, aqueous solutions, high viscosity fluids, biologics, small molecules, or single cells in suspension what better company to partner with than BioDot to provide your Engine for Science™?
And while a great engine is a must for a great vehicle you always need additional pieces to drive and ensure everything is working properly. So as we engage with you to understand your scientific needs, we can guide you through other challenges such as the verification of volumes. Because, after all, how would you verify a 25 picoliter dot, when it’s smaller than the naked eye can see? Or, what if there is a need for in-process drop verification? How about motion control for your dispense head with high precision positional resolution and vision for fiducial finding? What about dispensing software or training for your global support staff? With more than 6,000+ instruments installed globally and nearly 30 years of experience in automated Discrete Droplete Dispensing™, BioDot has you covered to get the absolute best performance from your Engine for Science™.
About the Author
Debbie has 26 years in supporting global Life Science customers through automation consultation, applications development and first in class customer care. She is an industrial engineer with an MBA and an emphasis in Global Marketing, as well as holding a certification in Contract Law. Debbie has holistic familiarity with all scientific application areas with knowledge of global best practices used in laboratories around the world.
Debbie joined BioDot in 2020. From 2017 to 2020, as President and CCO, Debbie led the commercial strategy for BioSoft Integrators. BioSoft offers Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS) to life science, clinical and manufacturing operation laboratories & is the preferred provider of High Performance Computing (HPC) solutions for global PacBio NGS customers. Through Debbie's leadership from 2014 to 2017 as VP of Robotic Operations at Hamilton Robotics, her team of 250+ outperformed Industry Growth Targets YoY in selling automated liquid handling systems, while vaulting industry partnerships with the top 20 Life Science innovators, and launched 20+ new products to clinical and RUO customers. 2013/14, Bowers was VP of Business Development at Invetech, a Danaher company, who specialized in product development for clinical diagnostics, life science and consumer product companies like Haemonetics, Coca Cola and Bio-Rad. From 2000 - 2012, Debbie acquired in-depth knowledge in all areas of liquid handling automation, detection, automated sample storage and retrieval systems and the consumables and modules required to automate complete workflows for life science applications in her many roles at Tecan US. At Tecan, she was responsible for sales, marketing, applications, custom solutions, product development and worked with every facet of customer type and scientific application. Early engineering, project management and technical sales roles provided Debbie with expertise in micro and macro filtration when working for Pall Gelman Sciences and Baker Hughes Process Equipment Company.