ENGS 89/90 Reports

Project Advisor

Minh Q Phan

Instructor

Solomon Diamond and Rafe Steinhauer

Document Type

Report

Publication Date

2021

Abstract

Significance & Problem Statement: Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the pharmaceutical industry is under increasing pressure to get high quality antibodies for vaccine production in the hopes of saving millions of lives. To accomplish this, the bioprocessing industry has transitioned to automated processing of samples. IDEX, the company behind the Tridex Protein Analyzer, hopes to extend Tridex's capabilities to automated sample processing to expand into this market segment. This is because, despite a fast readout of protein concentration, manual sampling of proteins into the Tridex can be a tedious and time consuming process. However, the Tridex machine lacks a compatible autosampler that would expedite this process; third-party autosamplers often introduce inefficiencies in the sampling process by way of incompatible software. Additionally, without an autosampler developed in-house, IDEX cannot offer full satisfactory customer support to the Tridex users, preventing the company from further expanding the Tridex sales in the bioprocessing industry.

Objectives: In this project, we strived to create protocols and software that can be used by IDEX for their autosampler design. Our main objectives for this technology were to provide seamless communication between the autosampler and Tridex unit through a tailored software; achieving low cross contamination between samples by designing appropriate cleaning and operation protocols; providing ease of use through automated operation of the autosampler and panels for the design of a straightforward user interface; and time savings through synchronization of the autosampler operational cycle and the Tridex analysis cycle.

Innovation: There are many high-quality autosamplers currently available in the market. Therefore, our main innovation in this project is not to create brand new technology to substitute what is already the gold-standard in the industry, but to creatively integrate the autosampling system into the protein analyser. This will be achieved through a robust microfluidics system using IDEX valves, pumps and tubing; a tailored communication system between the autosampler and analyser units; thoroughly tested protocols; and a focus on creating a highly specific product that is easy to use. Other than the clear technical advantages, the innovation also makes sense from a business perspective, allowing IDEX to branch out into a new market segment, control costs, have higher profits, control the software, and offer full customer support for the Tridex users.

Approach: Given that most autosamplers on the market are already of high quality and design, we have focused, instead, on a simplified product and seamless communication protocol with Tridex. We have built an open-source autosampler design from which we were able to test and design our operations and cleaning protocols. Tests included a beta Tridex unit sent to us by IDEX for cross contamination measurements. Software was developed based on an open-source Python program to control the movement of the autosampler, which was adapted to include IDEX fluidic parts, run our designed protocols, and communicate with the Tridex unit. We also mapped the user journey to pre-design an intuitive user interface for the autosampler and that incorporates the IDEX brand.

Level of Access

Restricted: Campus/Dartmouth Community Only Access

Restricted

Available to Dartmouth community via local IP address.

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