The growing use of microfluidics in laboratories and hospitals

The growing use of microfluidics in laboratories and hospitals

Can you explain how Bartels Mikrotechnik’s experience benefits clients looking for rapid entry into microfluidic applications?

Bartels Mikrotechnik has more than 26 years of experience in the microfluidic industry. During this time, we have done everything for our clients from using existing components in building systems to over-customizing them and creating our own products. This gave us an insight into the industry and technology.

Today, we have our own manufacturing and engineering team working on new microfluidic approaches. Thanks to our extensive partner network, we can offer our clients complete systems with many possible applications. We support our customers every step of the way – from the first idea to the final product.

What is the “Microfluidic SolutionMaker” approach?

We offer a complete, application-oriented, adaptable system for liquid handling. We use our own and partner components to build a complete system. In addition, we identify the problem and develop an application-oriented solution. Finally, our systems are customizable and allow for maximum flexibility through a modular design.

All the components we sell are connected to our mp-Multiboard2 electronic. In this way, the user has a single software interface to control the system. Bartels Mikrotechnik uses existing components to quickly build fully functional systems. We are a microfluidic SolutionMaker.

Image credit: Bartels Mikrotechnik GmbH

How does this approach differ from some of Bartels Mikrotechnik’s industry rivals?

One of our biggest advantages is that we can easily integrate components from different suppliers into our systems. We have an extensive network that we work closely with. All components are thoroughly tested and then integrated into our system to be controlled by one software. This makes it easier for our clients to add new features to their systems.

Plus, if we realize that the perfect component for an app doesn’t exist yet, we have an entire engineering team working to develop it. Thus the mp-bt bubble trap was created.

What is cell analysis and sorting and how is it used?

During cell analysis, individual cells are made visible by microfluidics and evaluation units, mostly by radiation, optics, etc. These cells are then analyzed in individual cases; so personalized medicine is possible. For example, bone cancer varies between patients and chemotherapy can be tailored using cell analysis to meet specific requirements.

Cell sorting is the homogenization of cell mixtures for various research, diagnostic and therapeutic applications.

Can you explain what role droplet formation plays in this area?

In microfluidics, droplet formation is a fundamental but highly complex topic. The goal is to create droplets of a specific size depending on the application. Droplet formation in microfluidics is based on the use of two immiscible phases. They are the continuous phase (oil, the medium in which the droplets flow) and the dispersed phase (water, droplet).

Droplet generation is often a technology that is essential for proper cell sorting and analysis.

Can you explain what Bartels Mikrotechnik micropumps are and how they are used?

Bartels’ mp6 series micropumps are miniaturized double-diaphragm pumps. Each micropump drives two piezoelectric actuators. Due to the space-saving and energy-saving design, they are cost-effective even in large quantities.

Thanks to the materials used, micropumps are remarkably versatile. Variable flow settings guarantee a wide range of possible applications. The mp6 micropumps can support liquids, gases and mixtures.

Mp6 micropumps are used in life sciences, diagnostic, medical and Point-of-Care testing applications. In addition, you can use our micropump for industrial applications such as process control or gas detection.

Image credit: Bartels Mikrotechnik GmbH

What distinguishes Bartels Mikrotechnik micropumps from similar technology?

The mp6 micropumps are very small and light. Therefore, they can also be easily integrated into handheld devices. They can also support liquids and gases and can easily switch between them.

As we are a pump manufacturer, we can also offer our customers a competitive price. In addition, we are able to provide large quantities even in a short period of time.

How is point-of-care microfluidic testing used and what are the benefits of detecting this pathogen?

Particularly exciting for the field of microfluidics is Point-of-Care testing for pathogens such as MRSA or COVID-19. There are various options here to perform these tests quickly and thoroughly without sending samples to central laboratories.

In addition, the system can also be efficiently and cheaply transferred to other viruses or pathogens. Thus, the transition between COVID-19 and MRSA is feasible.

The main advantage over simple rapid tests is that the viral load can also be determined. It can therefore test whether antigens are present and in what quantity. Antibodies may also be tested; thus, unrecognized and survived disease or immune status can be visualized and quantitatively classified.

How has the use of such systems changed as a result of the COVID pandemic?

One significant change is that Point-of-Care systems are now more widely recognized. Since the start of Covid, almost everyone has learned about different types of Point-of-Care and laboratory tests. This increased the importance of this topic in society in general.

At the same time, the need for POC equipment has skyrocketed and many laboratories have had to expand their resources and testing capabilities. This benefited their suppliers.

Image credit: Bartels Mikrotechnik GmbH

How are VOC sensors used to identify liquids?

In an industrial environment, one of the many reasons for the presence of VOCs in the air can be leaks. For example, the leakage of a coolant such as the widely used hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) can have very harmful effects. HFCs are powerful greenhouse gases and dangerous to the environment. You can use air quality measurement systems to ensure safety in industrial workplaces.

Alternatively, you can deliver gas samples to sensor units to monitor VOC concentration. This form of VOC detection can also be used in process or exhaust control production lines in the automotive industry.

Any liquid evaporates, which is something VOC sensors can detect. For example, it is possible to measure the level of ethanol in a liquid during the fermentation process by measuring the gas phase above the liquid, since the level of ethanol above the liquid depends on the level of ethanol in it.

The user can easily combine our active microfluidic components to create a VOC detection system. The mp6 micropump actively transports air samples to the VOC sensor, after which the sensor measures the amount of VOC in the sample. This data can be easily tracked in our software. Since the mp6 actively feeds air to the sensor, it allows for a more accurate reading than passive systems.

What are the advantages of testing air over a liquid rather than the liquid itself?

By sensing evaporation above the sample, the risk of contamination is reduced because there is no direct contact with the reagent or sample. Thanks to this, less emphasis is placed on using compatible materials and the user does not even have to clean the system before moving on to the next sample. This saves time and money.

There is also no loss of reagent or sample as there is no need to feed the reagent through the system for measurement. Instead, evaporation above it, which would otherwise go to waste, can be used.

What industries will benefit the most from this product?

Several processes and quality controls can benefit from this approach. Our primary industries would be pharmaceuticals and food and beverage, but the same system can easily be adapted to almost any application.

About Florian Siemenroth

Florian Siemenroth studied nano engineering and mechanical engineering. After several years working in research and development in the mikroEngineering team at Bartels Mikrotechnik, he is now responsible for product management in the microComponents division.

About Bartels Mikrotechnik GmbH

For more than 25 years, Bartels Mikrotechnik has been a globally active manufacturer and provider of development services in the field of microfluidics. Together with our partners, we help our customers find the right microfluidic solution for their applications.

Bartels, a microfluidic SolutionMaker, offers a complete, application-oriented, modular fluid handling system. With our evaluation kits and mpSmart, the user can test our mp6 micropump directly in their app with everything pre-prepared. We also have an extensive partner network that allows us to offer high-quality, tested components to complement the microfluidic system.

Our microComponents business unit offers a wide range of microfluidic components. Bartels Mikrotechnik manufactures and distributes microfluidic products – especially for miniaturized and portable applications. Our key products are micropumps that pump small volumes of gases and liquids. They are used in various ways in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and medical technology.

In microengineering, our team is constantly working on new solutions for new markets. We let new components mature to the patent stage and work on the transition from individual applications to series production. Our goal is to create complete worlds of products for the global market.

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