October 1, 2011 (Vol. 31, No. 17)

Dedicated to Making Our World a Better Place by Delivering Innovative Laboratory Automation

Douglas Scientific is dedicated to making our world a better place by delivering innovative laboratory automation. Our vision is to see Array Tape™ become a ubiquitous media for high-throughput laboratory processing, driving more data at a lower cost. “With Array Tape, you get a 10-fold increase in throughput, while at the same time reducing costs by 80–90%,” says Dan Malmstrom, president and COO at Douglas Scientific. “That’s a disruptive paradigm for biotechnology.”

A continuous inline Tape technology similar to Array Tape was invented to improve electronics manufacturing by efficiently delivering microchips in assembly lines. The inventor, Jim May, saw the potential for his innovative medium in the emerging biotechnology market.

In 2004, May approached Douglas Machine to develop a processing platform optimized for biotech applications in Tape. As a leader in automated packaging systems since 1964, Douglas Machine’s engineers used their experience and expertise to develop the highly automated, modular Array Tape platform. Today, as a wholly owned subsidiary of Douglas Machine, Douglas Scientific provides the Array Tape platform to world leaders in the bioscience industry.

Markets Served

Agricultural biotechnology companies are at the forefront of adopting new high-throughput technologies. They use Array Tape for SNP genotyping to improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of molecular plant breeding and product development.

Array Tape helps agricultural biotechnology companies quickly respond to worldwide challenges including exponential population growth, changing weather patterns, and severe food shortages. “We want to help our clients discover and deploy seeds that can grow in different parts of the world under changing global weather conditions,” says Malmstrom.

The next opportunity for Douglas Scientific is to introduce Array Tape to pharmaceutical, animal health, and other bioscience markets using high-throughput screening. For example, a soon to be released application platform for homogeneous ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) in Array Tape will make this solution attractive to many others in the biotech world.

“ELISA is a costly and labor-intensive process that can benefit from automation. When transformed into a homogeneous protocol, it’s a perfect application for Array Tape,” says Craig McLain, vp of market applications.

Upcoming product launches open the door for high-throughput qPCR and multiplexing in Array Tape.


The Array Tape platform, manufactured and sold by Douglas Scientific, provides an inline, modular, and highly automated system. The continuous reel-to-reel process flow is achieved with indexing holes that run along the edge of the Array Tape, accurately positioning and continuously feeding reaction wells through the Nexar (liquid-handling and Tape-sealing) and Araya (fluorescent scanning) instruments. The Soellex™ provides large batch thermal cycling of up to 230,000 samples in a single process run.

The Array Tape platform requires a much smaller laboratory footprint and eliminates manual handling and complex robotics required for microplate-based platforms. This walk-away automation improves laboratory efficiency, freeing laboratory personnel for more important work. Unique barcodes ensure accurate identification of individual samples during and after processing.

Researchers confirm Array Tape’s benefits when compared to microplate-based technology. On average, SNP genotyping laboratories are able to increase throughput to 400 arrays (384-well format) per system in an eight-hour day. Specifically, laboratories report reagent dispense and fluorescent reading are twice as fast in the Nexar and Araya instruments compared to microplate-based platforms. For PCR processing in Array Tape, one Soellex thermal cycler handles up to 230,000 samples in a single run, which replaces 18 water baths or 150 block heaters required for microplates.

These differences result in environmental and business savings. Array Tape is a cost-effective consumable. Seven times more plastic is needed to manufacture a 384-well microplate than a 384-well array in Tape. This reduction in plastic combined with the efficiency of the embossing process used to manufacture Array Tape means a 384-well array in Tape costs a small fraction of a 384-well microplate. Furthermore, customizing unique well sizes, geometries, and configurations is much less expensive in Array Tape than in microplates.

Array Tape reduces reagent storage, handling, and disposal costs by 70 to 90% due to smaller sample volumes. The Soellex thermal cycler uses 11 times less energy than 18 waterbaths. Moreover, the continuous, inline Array Tape Platform is a walk-away operation that can lower labor costs by an estimated 60%.

The highly automated Array Tape Platform with miniaturized reaction wells allows laboratories to cut project timelines as well as the cost of labor and reagents. Furthermore, the simplified workflow reduces manual handling of analytical material and frees skilled labor for more productive work.

Douglas Scientific

3600 Minnesota Street

Alexandria, MN 56308

Phone 320.762.6888

Website www.douglasscientific.com

Date Founded 2004

Number of Employees 68

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