Two levels of automation are commonly used in handling liquids for molecular newborn screening: highly automated and semi-automated. Highly automated liquid handling requires little to no intervention until the method set up is complete. In semi-automated liquid handling, a combination of manual and automated levels, instruments are used on the front end of a method to add reagents but all other steps are completed manually.


View examples of semi-automated instruments.

  • ​Used when processing a small (<500) to medium (>500) daily number of specimens  
  • Used for adding reagents directly into plate wells
  • Does not work when mixing is required
  • Instrument used to assist technician with addition of reagents, however other instruments are often used to complete the method
  • No specialty positions on deck available (instrument cannot include barcode readers, heated peltier, plate shakers or plate hotels)
  • Cannot be used for selective choosing of specimens (aspirating or dispensing to one specimen at a time, i.e. "cherry picking")
  • Technician must be present while instrument(s) is running
  • Small footprint
  • Cheaper than highly-automated instruments


View examples of highly-automated instruments.

  • ​Used when processing a medium to large daily number of specimens
  • Used for adding reagents directly into plate, washing specimens, mixing specimens, and removing buffers from specimens
  • Level of automation is flexible.  Methods can be written to any level of user assistance; from zero user assistance needed, technician can walk away upon starting the method; or partial assistance with one or more step(s) completed with technician assistance
  • Many specialty positions available. Common positions found in NBS labs include: barcode readers, heated peltier, plate shakers and plate/tip hotels
  • Medium to large footprint
  • More expensive than semi-automated instruments