This page is part of Hamilton's Automated Liquid Handling Guide.

What is Instrument Calibration?

No matter the size or complexity of an instrument, every mechanical system is built within a known manufacturing tolerance, making every system unique in their subtle differences.

When an application is sensitive to instrument variability, calibration is required to tune the accuracy of the instrument (more info). The process involves teaching the instrument the location of critical datums within the instrument’s field of movement. Once these datums are taught, the system can use this information to extrapolate the accurate location of any other position in the field of movement.

Why is XYZ Calibration Critical for Liquid Handling and Pipetting?

Instruments with onboard pipetting are often asked to transfer liquid from one location to the next. Accurate movements of the X and Y axis are required to hit the center of the desired well on a 384, 1536, or 3,456 well plate. Accurate movements in the Z axis (vertical movement) are critical when dispensing from a set height or when using liquid-level detection to predict the volume in a well.

Automating XYZ Calibration with ZEUS Pipetting Channel

Many instrument designers are incorporating Hamilton’s ZEUS pipetting channels with integrated Z-axis with closed-loop control and 0.1 mm resolution to automate XYZ calibration. After designing one or more stepped calibration features into the deck of their instrument, engineers can use ZEUS’s search-bottom function to determine the height of the calibration feature. The instrument can then make small movements along the X-axis until the search-bottom function finds the edge of the step. Then the instrument moves along the Z-axis until again the search-bottom function finds the edge of the step feature. At the end of the routine, the instrument is calibrated in X, Y, and Z.

Additional Resources for Automated Liquid Handling

Learn about all of Hamilton Company's Automated Liquid Handling solutions
Check out the homepage of our Automated Liquid Handling Guide
Read our recommendations for Step by Step Automated Liquid Handler Setup
The team at Hamilton gives recommendations for Best Practices for Liquid Handling Activities
Want to "own" the guide? Click for a PDF Downloadable Liquid Handling Guide
Hamilton Robotics highlights 10 Important Considerations for Accurate Automated Pipetting
Check this out to The Importance of Z-axis Control for Accurate Pipetting
Read our advice on Addressing Challenges of Automated Pipetting