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Need help for designing chem. robots
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george_D
science forum beginner


Joined: 26 Mar 2006
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Sun Mar 26, 2006 6:07 am    Post subject: Need help for designing chem. robots Reply with quote

Hi!

My name is George. I'm not a chemist, but I've worked for a
startup bioengineering company for 5 years and I've taken general
chem.

I'm a computer engineer by profession, specializing in robotics used
in chem. labs. In fact my job at the bio company was to build 4
robotic DNA synthesizers.

For some time I've wanted to design a number of small, table top, and
low cost robots for the chem. industry. At this point it's mostly
just a hobby, but if it works out I'd like to start a business. I
think I've got some good ideas, but my problem is that I still
don't have a good idea of what chemists really need. I'm hoping
that some of you can guide me and give me some advise.

There is a good local college (that's where I took chem.) near me and
I'm getting some help from the chem. teachers there. And I think I
can get assess to there lab to do some experiments.

I've heard of the terms; QC assays, combinatorial chemistry, general
synthesis, but I only have a vague idea of what they are. Other than
that, think what I need to know from chemists is; "As a robotics
engineer, what could I do to make your job a lot easer?"

Thanks George
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David Stranz
science forum beginner


Joined: 15 Jul 2005
Posts: 30

PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2006 2:29 am    Post subject: Re: Need help for designing chem. robots Reply with quote

"george_D" <georgedorian@comcast.net> wrote in
news:1143353233.476864.46820@i40g2000cwc.googlegroups.com:

Quote:
Hi!

My name is George. I'm not a chemist, but I've worked for a
startup bioengineering company for 5 years and I've taken
general chem.

I'm a computer engineer by profession, specializing in robotics
used in chem. labs. In fact my job at the bio company was to
build 4 robotic DNA synthesizers.

For some time I've wanted to design a number of small, table
top, and low cost robots for the chem. industry. At this point
it's mostly just a hobby, but if it works out I'd like to start
a business. I think I've got some good ideas, but my problem is
that I still don't have a good idea of what chemists really
need. I'm hoping that some of you can guide me and give me some
advise.

There is a good local college (that's where I took chem.) near
me and I'm getting some help from the chem. teachers there. And
I think I can get assess to there lab to do some experiments.

I've heard of the terms; QC assays, combinatorial chemistry,
general synthesis, but I only have a vague idea of what they
are. Other than that, think what I need to know from chemists
is; "As a robotics engineer, what could I do to make your job a
lot easer?"

Thanks George



Of the three terms you mention in your last paragraph, all of them
have been addressed by the major makers of laboratory automation
instruments. Googling for "laboratory automation" gets you about
26 million hits.

Don't mean to rain on your parade, but unless you find an really
innovative niche that no one has thought of before, chances are
good that there's a major manufacturer already making an instrument
in that area (or who holds patents on one). There is a huge amount
of activity in this area already, since most of the major
pharmaceutical companies are investing heavily in lab automation to
enable high-throughput drug screening and testing. The instrument
vendors are very agressive in meeting those needs.

You will have trouble making anything in the "small, table top, and
low cost" category that is sophisticated enough to meet many
industrial needs. Zymark was an early manufacturer of lab robots,
and they were barely able to make a profit - all of their income
went back into R&D, and they spent a huge amount of effort
customizing their robot installations for specific customer needs,
typically at an engineering cost that netted them no profit. They
eventually got bought. Other companies including Hewlett-Packard
and Perkin-Elmer tried to get into the general-purpose lab robot
market, failed to make any money, and exited or sold it off.

Unfortunately as well, local colleges are probably not a good place
to learn what the industry needs, as faculty typically do not have
the "real-world" perspective (unless of course, it is a college
specializing in technical education for people destined for
industrial jobs). Better would be for you to find contacts in
chemical and industrial labs (like the bioengineering company).

Regards,

David
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Jim111
science forum beginner


Joined: 06 Jan 2006
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2006 5:09 am    Post subject: Re: Need help for designing chem. robots Reply with quote

george_D wrote:
Quote:
Hi!

My name is George. I'm not a chemist, but I've worked for a
startup bioengineering company for 5 years and I've taken general
chem.

I'm a computer engineer by profession, specializing in robotics used
in chem. labs. In fact my job at the bio company was to build 4
robotic DNA synthesizers.

For some time I've wanted to design a number of small, table top, and
low cost robots for the chem. industry. At this point it's mostly
just a hobby, but if it works out I'd like to start a business. I
think I've got some good ideas, but my problem is that I still
don't have a good idea of what chemists really need. I'm hoping
that some of you can guide me and give me some advise.

There is a good local college (that's where I took chem.) near me and
I'm getting some help from the chem. teachers there. And I think I
can get assess to there lab to do some experiments.

I've heard of the terms; QC assays, combinatorial chemistry, general
synthesis, but I only have a vague idea of what they are. Other than
that, think what I need to know from chemists is; "As a robotics
engineer, what could I do to make your job a lot easer?"

Thanks George

Hi George--


After reading David Stranz' reply, I'd have to agree with him, but --
one thing I would like to see, that I haven't seen, is a robot to make
standards. We have a similar apparatus that is used to automatically
inject into analytical instrumentation (an autosampler).

What I would like to see is something to manipulate different sizes of
syringes to measure out accurate amounts of liquids into an ampule or
vial, and then clean the syringe after dispensing the liquid.

I hate making standards.

Jim
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Andrew Tweddle
science forum beginner


Joined: 08 May 2005
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2006 9:03 am    Post subject: Re: Need help for designing chem. robots Reply with quote

george_D wrote:

Quote:
Hi!

My name is George. I'm not a chemist, but I've worked for a
startup bioengineering company for 5 years and I've taken general
chem.

I'm a computer engineer by profession, specializing in robotics used
in chem. labs. In fact my job at the bio company was to build 4
robotic DNA synthesizers.

For some time I've wanted to design a number of small, table top, and
low cost robots for the chem. industry. At this point it's mostly
just a hobby, but if it works out I'd like to start a business. I
think I've got some good ideas, but my problem is that I still
don't have a good idea of what chemists really need. I'm hoping
that some of you can guide me and give me some advise.

There is a good local college (that's where I took chem.) near me and
I'm getting some help from the chem. teachers there. And I think I
can get assess to there lab to do some experiments.

I've heard of the terms; QC assays, combinatorial chemistry, general
synthesis, but I only have a vague idea of what they are. Other than
that, think what I need to know from chemists is; "As a robotics
engineer, what could I do to make your job a lot easer?"

Thanks George

There are some inspiring examples OT. Craig Venter and the PRISMA DNA

sequencer that was conceived as a laser reading the glass plates from
DNA analysis. If you have some good insight then you could come up with
a similarly revolutionary idea.
How about reading a DNA Gel plate slide with a desktop scanner?
Thinking OT, a GC in an IC or HPLC in an IC so the instrument becomes
hand held instead of bench size. But again this requires a lot more work
than just better mechanics. A team including Analog and digital IC
designers, programmers some chemists to think about the handling of the
target molecules , mechanisms for analyzing them etc. Not impossible
just very difficult.
On a simpler scale the extension of ion selective analysis for
industrial process control is always interesting as not every ion has
been covered? I think?
Since you are already in the DNA synthesis business how about extending
this to bigger molecules /DNA sequences like a whole genome ? and
dealing with the folding of the molecule. This sort of stuff would be
useful to any of the companies that work in the field and maybe
especially useful to those making new lifeforms. I have also wondered
about how you attack the problem of DNA analysis with computer software
instead of the cut and miss methods which seem to be the current go. ie.
find a mouse with disease X and compare him to his brother and find the
difference.
Applying existing techniques to a low cost market like xray diffraction
analysis for metal identification to scrap metal recovery. a similar
idea for plastic identification for all that plastic recovery that is
currently done by low paid workers identifying the plastics by looking
at the recycle code. When I was a kid I used to visit one of my dads
orchardist mates and I was always constantly fascinated by the fruit
sorting machines which basically just sorted by using conveyor belts and
rotating the apples pears etc until they popped out the chute for the
appropriate size. A similar idea for plastic recycling would be rather
useful.

Andrew
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Marvin
science forum Guru Wannabe


Joined: 24 Mar 2005
Posts: 224

PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2006 3:13 pm    Post subject: Re: Need help for designing chem. robots Reply with quote

Andrew Tweddle wrote:
Quote:
george_D wrote:

Hi!

My name is George. I'm not a chemist, but I've worked for a
startup bioengineering company for 5 years and I've taken general
chem.

I'm a computer engineer by profession, specializing in robotics used
in chem. labs. In fact my job at the bio company was to build 4
robotic DNA synthesizers.

For some time I've wanted to design a number of small, table top, and
low cost robots for the chem. industry. At this point it's mostly
just a hobby, but if it works out I'd like to start a business. I
think I've got some good ideas, but my problem is that I still
don't have a good idea of what chemists really need. I'm hoping
that some of you can guide me and give me some advise.

There is a good local college (that's where I took chem.) near me and
I'm getting some help from the chem. teachers there. And I think I
can get assess to there lab to do some experiments.

I've heard of the terms; QC assays, combinatorial chemistry, general
synthesis, but I only have a vague idea of what they are. Other than
that, think what I need to know from chemists is; "As a robotics
engineer, what could I do to make your job a lot easer?"

Thanks George

There are some inspiring examples OT. Craig Venter and the PRISMA DNA
sequencer that was conceived as a laser reading the glass plates from
DNA analysis. If you have some good insight then you could come up with
a similarly revolutionary idea.
How about reading a DNA Gel plate slide with a desktop scanner?
Thinking OT, a GC in an IC or HPLC in an IC so the instrument becomes
hand held instead of bench size. But again this requires a lot more work
than just better mechanics. A team including Analog and digital IC
designers, programmers some chemists to think about the handling of the
target molecules , mechanisms for analyzing them etc. Not impossible
just very difficult.
On a simpler scale the extension of ion selective analysis for
industrial process control is always interesting as not every ion has
been covered? I think?
Since you are already in the DNA synthesis business how about extending
this to bigger molecules /DNA sequences like a whole genome ? and
dealing with the folding of the molecule. This sort of stuff would be
useful to any of the companies that work in the field and maybe
especially useful to those making new lifeforms. I have also wondered
about how you attack the problem of DNA analysis with computer software
instead of the cut and miss methods which seem to be the current go. ie.
find a mouse with disease X and compare him to his brother and find the
difference.
Applying existing techniques to a low cost market like xray diffraction
analysis for metal identification to scrap metal recovery. a similar
idea for plastic identification for all that plastic recovery that is
currently done by low paid workers identifying the plastics by looking
at the recycle code. When I was a kid I used to visit one of my dads
orchardist mates and I was always constantly fascinated by the fruit
sorting machines which basically just sorted by using conveyor belts and
rotating the apples pears etc until they popped out the chute for the
appropriate size. A similar idea for plastic recycling would be rather
useful.

Andrew
Near IR analysis is used to sort plastics. I don't know how

much it is used, but NIR sorting can be very fast.
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Andrew Tweddle
science forum beginner


Joined: 08 May 2005
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2006 2:34 am    Post subject: Re: Need help for designing chem. robots Reply with quote

Marvin wrote:

Quote:
Near IR analysis is used to sort plastics. I don't know how much it is
used, but NIR sorting can be very fast.

I didn't know that. Thank you!

Andrew
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David Stranz
science forum beginner


Joined: 15 Jul 2005
Posts: 30

PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2006 3:04 pm    Post subject: Re: Need help for designing chem. robots Reply with quote

Andrew Tweddle <sarason_not_me@alphalink.com.au> wrote in
news:444c390c_2@news.chariot.net.au:

Quote:
Marvin wrote:

Near IR analysis is used to sort plastics. I don't know how
much it is used, but NIR sorting can be very fast.

I didn't know that. Thank you!

Andrew


I believe it was Warren Vidrine whom I heard give a related talk on
process NIR, probably 10 or more years ago. He described an online
NIR process for monitoring the thickness of an extruded polymer film
(kitchen wrap or something like that), where the process could be
controlled in real time and the film was being extruded at m/s rates.

As for the flatbed scanner for gels, it's been done too.
http://www.silkscientific.com/

David
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Marvin
science forum Guru Wannabe


Joined: 24 Mar 2005
Posts: 224

PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2006 5:57 pm    Post subject: Re: Need help for designing chem. robots Reply with quote

David Stranz wrote:

Quote:
I believe it was Warren Vidrine whom I heard give a related talk on
process NIR, probably 10 or more years ago. He described an online
NIR process for monitoring the thickness of an extruded polymer film
(kitchen wrap or something like that), where the process could be
controlled in real time and the film was being extruded at m/s rates.

As for the flatbed scanner for gels, it's been done too.
http://www.silkscientific.com/

David

Before NIR was applied to foods by Karl Norris, GE got a
U.S. patent on using NIR to monitor dampness in paper being
made in a paper-making machine. NIR can be rapid because a
tungsten lamp emits huge amounts of radiation in the NIR
wavelengths. A filter system has a lot of signal to work with.
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