DIY integration of a Hamamatsu FDSS to a High-Throughput Screening System; a problem solving and design-for-manufacture exercise, and supporting case for the value of in-house prototyping ability

Recorded On: 02/07/2018

A perception exists in the life sciences field that the creation, implementation, integration, modification and maintenance of instrumentation are tasks exclusively to be outsourced to dedicated vendors. At the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) we believe that readily available solutions can be quick and cost-effective, but if the science or the scientist dictates a new tool that doesn’t yet exist, the ability to quickly design and produce real, usable instruments can tremendously accelerate progress. This value is proven by our in-house integration of a Hamamatsu FDSS7000EX Functional Drug Screening System to an existing single-arm High Throughput Robotic Platform, and further integration of an Ion Field Tip Charger plasma pin tool cleaning system to that FDSS. This project demonstrates that the process of problem solving is of enormous importance to the outcome. Good design involves engineering, but not exclusively so; time spent at the very beginning to “consider what bears consideration” is always time well spent, and it’s often the least expensive time billed to the project. “A designer is an emerging synthesis of artist, inventor, mechanic, objective economist and evolutionary strategist” – R. Buckminster Fuller This quote encapsulates the concept that problem solving for life sciences is an open-ended, inquisitive process in which diverse disciplines spanning engineering and sociology must be given consideration, equally.

Eric Wallgren

National Institutes of Health - National Center For Advancing Translational Sciences

Eric Wallgren is an art school graduate who grew up in a house with a small machine shop in the basement.  He has worked as a mechanical and industrial designer and prototyper,  primarily in life sciences instrumentation, photovoltaic/renewable energy and powersports for about twenty years, before which he received an informal mechanical education while working as a bicycle mechanic.  In addition to his position as Instrumentation Lead at NCATS he also is owner/driver/crew  of Area 51 Racing, competing in the SCCA P2 class, and proprietor of MMW Engineering a small machine and fabrication shop.

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