Scalable solutions for large laboratories
MetaSytems installations grow with demand and are prepared to serve large routine laboratories.
Like for many other fields of work, scalability is also increasing in importance for professional laboratory imaging tasks. Improving technologies come with higher demands, growing case numbers, and increasing cost pressure. From their very beginning, MetaSystems solutions were configured to grow with the user's requirements. Nowadays, modern multi-user installations of MetaSystems imaging devices can be precisely tailored to any given situation, and they bear the intrinsic potential for natural growth whenever circumstances change.
The robust and secure SlideFeeder x80 has been designed and put into practice by MetaSystems, and it is built especially for use with Metafer systems in a high-throughput environment. The robotic system consists of a motorized, rotating feeder module delivering samples to the microscope stage. Slides are mounted in robust metal frames stored in magazines. The magazines can be removed for exchanging the slides and comfortably be populated on the bench. A standard slide frame holds 5 regular microscopy slides, and a magazine has space for 16 frames (80 slides). The SlideFeeder x80 grows with demand, with a minimum capacity of 80 slides (1 magazine) to the maximum of 800 slides (10 magazines). Slide frames for microwell plates and for samples larger or smaller than the standard slides are available.
Due to intelligent sensor technology the SlideFeeder x80 detects if a magazine is present, and it also determines the number of frames in the magazines. Therefore, magazines can be exchanged even while Metafer is scanning. Thus, in routine labs all Metafer systems equipped with the SlideFeeder x80 can be used as a fulltime image server – 24 hours per day, and 7 days a week.
In large routine labs, case data usually are collected from many different sources. Thanks to Neon, the innovative case and image management platform of MetaSystems, it is very easy to keep track of the many information snippets that belong to a single case. However, it still remains important to reliably identify case related items outside the computer, for instance the slides for microscopy. The use of bar code labels has been established as the preferred method to achieve this goal. The MetaSystems bar code reader, available as option for the SlideFeeder x80, reliably reads linear, stacked and matrix bar codes in approx. 40 different formats. Bar code content can be sent directly to Metafer (for use as slide designations, for example) and to Neon. Single digits of the codes can be re-translated to plain language based on lookup tables consigned to the Neon database.
Setting up smart scanning sequences (consisting of several coactive, single imaging applications) is one of the core skills of a Metafer system. However, if the workflow includes changing from a low-power objective to a high-power immersion oil lens, applying immersion oil between the two scans is needed. To eliminate any human interaction, MetaSystems offers the AutoOiler, an automated module that dispenses immersion oil onto slides by means of a PC-controlled micro pump. Immersion oil is taken from a reservoir that can be easily refilled. The intelligent control software supports scripts which can be used to precisely define where the nozzle should stop and supply the oil. Thus, oil can be spread on the slide exactly as intended. Even slides with several discrete search windows can be efficiently supplied with immersion oil, without any spilling or wasting of oil.