Figure 1: Adding quick disconnects to fluidics designs improves the serviceability of an
instrument and maximizes “up time.”
design world-class fluid handling systems
for diagnostic instruments.
1. Ensure material and media
compatibility — Material compatibility
between connectors or other fluid handling
components and the fluids used in the test
setting is often overlooked, and a mismatch
can be the root cause of costly maintenance
due to leaks, contamination, or corrosion.
In IVD applications, consider any cleaning
solutions or other chemicals (e.g., bleach,
hydrogen peroxide, or isopropyl alcohol)
that may be flushed through the fluid lines
or wiped on the exterior. Some high-end
applications involving stronger acids or solvents may require components to be made
of engineered polymers such as PEEK or
PVDF to maintain compatibility (Figure 1).
2. Specify non-spill or “dry break”
valved connection points — Connectors
with integral valves create a cleaner and safer
connection, eliminating the need for clamps
or secondary shutoff valves and enhancing the
overall perception of the instrument. Valved
connectors prevent spills upon disconnection
and also prevent the entry of air into the
system. There are many styles of valves with
varying flow rates and pressure drops.
For example, adding non-spill, quick
disconnects to the critical assemblies of
high-volume chemistry analyzers ensures
easy access for serviceability. By using non-spill connections to pumps and other critical
components, lab technicians can easily replace components without fear of damaging
sensitive electrical assemblies (Figure 2).
3. Track reagent batches at the point
of use — Connectors with radio frequency
identification (RFID) capabilities help facilitate
safe and efficient fluid connections while avoiding harmful and expensive mistakes, reducing
liability and improving process management.
Intelligent RFID-enabled coupling applications
include real-time reagent inventory monitoring,
batch identification, brand and product protection, and expiration date tracking.
These types of couplings are currently
being used with clinical diagnostic lab
equipment. Thanks to the RFID-enabled
connection, labs can track the amounts of
reagents used on each piece of equipment
to confirm appropriate inventory levels and
ensure the availability of sufficient reagent
to complete the testing cycle. In addition,
the couplings confirm that the right reagent
is being used with the diagnostic equipment, which eliminates errors and mitigates
equipment downtime due to the use of “off
brand” consumable products.
4. Connect multiple fluid lines
at once — Consolidating multiple fluid
lines into a single connection can greatly
improve serviceability and prevent miscon-nections. Lines can include dissimilar fluids
or gases and use either pressure or vacuum
to drive fluid through an instrument.
Multi-line connections on waste containers
are particularly valuable in providing the
necessary supply, empty, and vacuum lines
all in a single interface. New technology
even allows electrical lines to be integrated
into a hybrid connection point where flu-
ids and data can be hooked up in a single
quick operation (Figure 3).
As an example, flow cytometry — routinely used in the diagnosis of health disorders, especially blood cancers — uses large
volumes of reagents and requires secure
connections to ensure proper reagent de-
Figure 2: Non-spill connectors should be
used when even drops of liquid pose a
problem. These types of connectors effec-
tively eliminate spills, enhance operator
safety, and prevent air inclusions into