Microplate Sealers Information

A microplate sealer is a device that creates a protective seal on a microplate to protect and contain samples. 

Microplates are rectangular trays containing sample wells. Microplates are a standardized configuration for easy integration into laboratory diagnostic instruments. They can hold six to hundreds or thousands of individual samples. 

A microplate sealer establishes a barrier on the top of the sample wells to prevent contamination or spillage, and to enable storage. Barriers include caps, strip caps, mats, and films, which attach with adhesive or heat. 

Types 

These devices are typical moderately-sized and mounted on a desktop or workbench. Microplate sealers are classified by parameters of operation. 

Automatic or Manual 

Manual microplate sealers require the operator to position the microplate. He or she may also need to apply the compressing force to apply the seal with an ergonomic handle. An alternative device is the plate sealing roller. They are fine for low volume sealing applications. 

Automatic sealers are electromechanical in nature. They align microplates, apply the barrier, and dispense the sealed microplate. They are optimal for high volume or automated microplate processing. Semi-automatic models exist as well.

 

Video credit: Alan Katz / CC BY 3.0

Adhesive or Thermal 

Thermal sealers apply heat to the seal of the microplate via a hot platen. The temperature of the platen and length of application are often adjustable to accommodate different types of seals. A film or foil is overlaid on the rims of the sample wells while the platen welds or binds the film or foil. Thermal seals are typically more durable than adhesive sealers

Adhesive sealers distribute even, forceful pressure to the rims of the wells to stick a seal with a layer of pressure sensitive adhesive. 

Types of Seals 

Base materials include aluminum, mylar, silicon, polyester, polyolefin, polypropylene, and rayon. Most adhesives are acrylate. Seals have certain features that make them appropriate for certain applications, such as peelable, gas permeable, optically clear, solvent resistant, permanent, and pierceable, among others. 

  • Mats: an elastomer mat with underside protrusions that cap the openings of sample wells
  • Strip: an elastomer mat with only one row of well protection
  • Film or foil: thin layers of barrier materials that adhere to the topography of the sample well rims, some films can be used along with mats
  • Lids/covers: offer protection against contamination and evaporation; can facilitate microplate stacking and storage; not typically applied with a sealer 

Specifications 

  • Microplate dimensions: maximum size of compatible microplates
  • Microplate seals: compatible seal types
  • Air: a clean, dry air supply at a particular psi
  • Sealer size: weight and dimensions of the sealer
  • Sealing temperature: value or range of temperatures the sealer can use to apply seales
  • Temperature resolution: interval between temperature settings
  • Cycle time: process time to apply seal to a plate
  • Warm-up/cool-down: time to get the sealer up to operating temperature, and time it takes to cool down to ambient temperature after use
  • Environmental: suitable ambient temperatures and relatively humidity 

Features 

  • Auto-off: the sealer turns off after a predetermined period of inactivity or if the sealer overheats
  • Auto load: the sealer automatically loads the next consumable seal material into the device
  • Foot pedal: the sealer can be initiated by foot control
  • LCD/LED: an LCD user interface or LED indicator provides feedback to the operator
  • Programmable: settings can be saved to reduce set up time
  • Interconnectivity: the sealer can link to other devices, such as by RS-232 or WiFi
  • Stacking: processed microplates are stacked and stored by the device