Types of Robots in Laboratory Automation: A Look at HF-i Solutions

Laboratory automation is a game-changer that revolutionizes the way tasks are done in a lab. By utilizing robots and advanced technologies, laboratories can streamline processes and achieve better accuracy, efficiency, and speed. 

These robots come in various types, each with distinct advantages and limitations tailored to specific applications.

Here, we’ll explore the advantages and disadvantages of each robot type to help you understand how HF-i can help you achieve your laboratory automation objectives.

  • Co-bots
    Co-bots are collaborative robots that work alongside humans and assist with tasks such as pipetting, mixing, or loading samples. They are safe, flexible, and easy to program, and have advantages such as increased productivity, accuracy, and safety.

    However, they may require more supervision and maintenance, have limited capabilities, and can pose ethical and legal issues. They need to operate at slower speeds when compared to caged industrial robots.

    HF-i uses co-bots for collaborative tasks requiring manual dexterity, flexibility, or feedback.

  • 6 axis robots
    6-axis robots are robotic arms with six degrees of freedom, enabling them to move in any direction and orientation. They are versatile and precise, capable of handling complex tasks such as sample preparation and liquid handling.

    The advantages of these robots include high precision, speed, and repeatability, and they can handle different types of samples with ease. Industrial versions are extremely reliable, although they may be more expensive, bulky, and difficult to program than other robots.

    HF-i uses industrial-grade 6-axis robots to perform complex tasks that require high-speed movements, versatility, and precision, such as sample preparation, liquid handling, or instrument integration.

  • Scara robots
    Scara robots are robotic arms with four degrees of freedom, making them fast, accurate, and reliable. They can handle heavy loads and tough environments. Scara robots excel in simple tasks, handle large sample volumes with minimal waste, and have a longer reach on the horizontal plane. However, they may have limited flexibility and difficulty handling unstable objects.

    HF-i uses industrial-grade scara robots to perform simple tasks that require high speed and accuracy such as plate handling, dispensing, or sorting, where a larger surface area is required, and four degrees of freedom are sufficient.

  • Cartesian Robots (XYZ) robots
    Cartesian Robots (XYZ) robots are robotic systems that move along the X, Y, and Z axes, making them ideal for basic laboratory tasks. They are simple, easy to maintain, cost-effective, and can be integrated with other devices and software. While they may lack versatility and have limited functionality, they excel in repetitive tasks requiring precise positioning.

    HF-I uses industrial XYZ Cartesian robots
    to perform basic tasks that require low cost and high efficiency, high sample throughput such as pipetting, diluting, weighing, or washing.

  • Large Gantry robots
    Large Gantry robots are highly stable, scalable, and powerful robotic systems that move over a large area or volume. They are ideal for tasks such as sample storage, retrieval, or transportation, and can handle multiple samples simultaneously without human intervention.
    Although they require more space and infrastructure than other robots, they can cover a large workspace with high stability and scalability.

    HF-i uses large industrial gantry robots for handling sample storage, large numbers of samples in batches, and moving trays of samples between workstations.

  • Robots on tracks
    Robots on tracks are mobile and autonomous robotic systems with wheels or tracks that move along a predefined path or path. They are useful for tasks like sample delivery, collection, and distribution.
    However, they may have lower accuracy and stability compared to other robots and may pose safety issues related to collision avoidance and emergency stop mechanisms.

    HF-i uses industrial robots on tracks
    for handling heavy samples that need to move long distances between machines or where space and the number of connected machines require it.

HF-i combines different types of robots to create hybrid solutions that optimise laboratory automation. For example, a Cartesian robot (XYZ), a collaborative robot, and a Scara robot can be combined to perform high-precision and high-flexibility tasks safely and efficiently.

HF-i’s Approach: HF-i offers customized laboratory automation solutions by combining different types of robots tailored to each customer’s needs. These robots optimize sample handling, automate assays, and manage inventory.

HF-i also integrates other technologies such as vision systems, sensors, software, LIMS, and cloud computing to create smart and connected laboratory automation solutions. Customers can rely on HF-i’s expertise for efficient and reliable laboratory processes.