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Publication numberUS3883306 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateMay 13, 1975
Filing dateNov 23, 1973
Priority dateNov 23, 1972
Also published asDE2358298A1, DE2358298B2
Publication numberUS 3883306 A, US 3883306A, US-A-3883306, US3883306 A, US3883306A
InventorsWiden John Ake
Original AssigneeAga Ab
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Automatic analyzing arrangement
US 3883306 A
Abstract
An arrangement for conveying receptacle holders along a predetermined path to different treatment stations in an automatic analyzing apparatus includes a location along the path wherein a predetermined rotation is imparted to the holder. The arrangement preferably comprises a pair of L-shaped slide bars located on opposite sides of the path of travel which support the holders and prevent rotation thereof except in a location where the side walls of the bars are recessed. Cooperating gearing on the holder and on one of the slide bars provides rotation of the holder as the holder is conveyed along the path.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent 1 91 1111 3,883,306

Widen 1451 May 13, 1975 [5 AUTOMATIC ANALYZING 3,636,777 1 1972 Frank et al. .4 23 259 ARRANGEMENT 3,708,264 l/l973 Jottier 23/259 3,753,657 8/[973 Downing et al 23/259 [75] Inventor: John Ake Wi n, T y. Sweden 3,8l4,582 6/1974 Rohrbaugh et a1. 23/230 R [73] Assignee: AGA Aktiebolag, Lidingo, Sweden I Primary Examiner-R. E. Serwm i Flled: 1973 Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Larson, Taylor & Hinds [2]] Appl. No: 4l8,l75

[57] ABSTRACT An arrangement for conveying receptacle holders [30] Foreign Application Priority Data No 23 1972 Sweden H 15259172 along a predetermined path to different treatment stations in an automatic analyzing apparatus includes a location along the path wherein a predetermined rota {ii} lifiiliJJJJJJJJJJJjJjJiJiijjjjj:'aain ifififd 1 13 1 53 hhh h hhhhhhh to hhhhhh The Phhh- [58] Field of Search llllllllllll U 23/259 253 R 230 erably COiTlPIIISCS a pan of L-shaped slide bars located gig/29 on oppos1te sides of the path of travel whlch support the holders and prevent rotation thereof except in a [56] Reterences cued lgcation vvhere the side wlallsholldthe badrs are recesses. ooperatmg geanng on t e 0 er an on one 0 t e UNITED STATES PATENTS slide bars provides rotation of the holder as the holder v 1 i i is conveyed along the 3,297,l34 l/l967 Pastuszak 1 H 198/33 3.570.555 3/1971 Gilson 23 259 9 Claims, 5 Drawing Figures 20 22 WITHDRAWAL DEVICE ANALYZER AUTOMATIC ANALYZING ARRANGEMENT FIELD OF THE INVENTION The present invention relates to automatic chemical analyzing systems and, more particularly. to an arrangement for conveying receptacle holders along a predetermined path to different treatment stations.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION A number of automated systems have been provided for performing chemical reactions and analyzing the results. Such systems characteristically include a series of receptacle holders or carriers, for test tubes and the like. which are moved by a conveyor past a series of different treatment stations. Individual of these treatment stations may. for example, provide filling of the test tubes with sample liquid and reagent, heating or other treatment of the sample liquid and reagent within the test tubes, withdrawal of the sample liquid and reagent from the test tubes and washing of the test tubes, each during a predetermined part of the programmed operating cycle of the conveyor.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION Among other advantages of the arrangement of the present invention. the time necessary for conveying a selected receptacle from the active area of a first treatment station to the active area of a second treatment station is varied. In this way, it is possible to vary the reaction time for the chemical reaction which occurs when a particular reagent is added to the same liquid.

According to the invention, an arrangement is provided wherein provision is made for rotating the receptacle holder at a selected point along the path of travel thereof in accordance with a predetermined analyzing program. The angle of rotation is made equal to the angle formed between a radial line from the center of the holder and a first receptacle and a radial line from the center of the holder and a further receptacle. The arrangement also includes devices for supplying liquid to at least one receptacle of the holder and for removing the liquid after the reaction in question is complete. as well as some form of analyzer for the recovered liquid.

In accordance with a preferred embodiment thereof, the invention includes a pair of rails or bars along which the holders are conveyed and which normally prevent rotation of the holders. Recesses in the bars at a predetermined location therealong permit rotation of the holders at that location through the cooperative action ofa toothed gear track on one of the bars and corresponding gearing on the holder.

Other features and advantages of the invention will be set forth in. or apparent from, the detailed description of a preferred embodiment thereof found hereinbelow.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. I is a highly schematic plan view of an automatic analyzing arrangement according to the invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a portion of the arrangement shown in FIG. I, with certain parts omitted for purposes of clarity;

FIG. 3 is a plan view of the embodiment of FIG. 2 showing two holders in different rotational positions:

FIG. 4 is a vertical section of the holder of FIG. 2', and

FIG. 5 is a highly schematic representation of another embodiment of the holder of the invention.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS Referring to FIG. 1, a schematic representation is presented of an automatic analyzing arrangement incorporating the invention. The arrangement includes a plurality of holders 10 for carrying a plurality of receptacles. generally denoted I2, the holders I0, in the spe' cific embodiment shown, being designed to hold four receptacles specifically designed a, b, c and a. The receptacles 12 can be simple test tubes while the holders 10 are preferably of one of the forms described below and illustrated in FIGS. 2 to 4 and FIG. 5. It will be understood that the number of receptacles 12 as well as their arrangement in the holders 10 is merely exemplary and. as will be apparent from the description hereinbelow, the number of receptacles 12 can be any number greater than one, within practical limits.

Holders I0 move along a path which is indicated by broken lines 14, the holders I0 being conveyed on path 14 by suitable means (not shown in FIG. 1 so that each holder 10 returns to a predetermined reference point or station along the path after a selected time interval.

With a holder 10 at a first reference position, denoted I, sample liquid and reagent may be supplied to one or more of the receptacles I2 therein by means of a dispensing device indicated at 16. The dispensing device 16 may comprise a series of pipettes connected to pumps (not shown) or can take any of a number of other conventional forms characteristically used in connection with automatic analyzing machines.

In the embodiment under consideration, the path 14 is provided, at a further point or station II, with an arrangement (not shown) for turning or rotating a holder I0 about the vertical axis of the holder, this rotation being indicated in FIG. 1 by arrow 18. In a specific example, rotation of a holder I0 is provided at station II. Further. in this specific example, the length of path 14 relative to the speed at which holders 10 are conveyed is such that a holder 10 will return to starting position after 6 minutes, the times during which a holder 10, starting at station I, will pass each of the other stations being indicated by the designations l min.. 2 min. and so forth, as illustrated.

Under these conditions, if it is desired that the time of treatment of a particular mixture of sample liquid and reagent be 20 minutes, the mixture can be supplied to the receptacle at a station I, the holder 10 conveyed along path 14 so that station II is passed four times. and, when the holder I0 again reaches station III. the liquid withdrawn from the receptacle. As illustrated. station I" may include a suitable withdrawal device, indicated at 20, for removing the liquid from a receptacle I2, and an analyzer. which is indicated at 20 and which can be a photometer or another conventional analyzing device, for analyzing the result of the reaction. With the operating cycle set forth above, a time of 20 minutes will elapse between the time the sample fluid and reagent is supplied to receptacle and the time the holder 10 reaches station III for the fourth time.

It will be understood that sample fluid and reagent can be successively supplied to receptacles a to d each time the corresponding holder I0 passes station I.

Under this mode of operation. the arrangement of FIG. I operates as a one channel analyzing apparatus providing a reaction time of 20 minutes. and liquid is supplied every time the corresponding holder I passes station I. viz., every sixth minute.

Under another mode of operation of the arrangement of FIG. 1, sample liquid is supplied simultaneously to two receptacles of a holder I0. e.g.. to holders a and b. Further. the holder I0 is rotated 180 at station II. If the holder I0 is conveyed along path 14 so that station II is passed twice. holder 10 reaches station IV after Ill minutes whereupon the reaction product can then be withdrawn for analysis as set forth above. Under these conditions. the arrangement functions as a two channel analyzing apparatus. each channel having a 10 minute reaction time.

In accordance with a further operating mode. sample liquid and reagent is supplied to each of the receptacles a to d at station I, and the result of the reaction is ob tained when the hold reaches station V after 5 minutes. In this mode. the arrangement thus operates as a four channel analyzing apparatus.

It is noted that other combinations can also be employed. For example, operation can be provided with two channels having a 5 minute reaction time and one channel having a minute reaction time, if the holder 10 is rotated at suitable positions along path 14 under the control of a suitable operating program. If the number of holders 10 in the path 14 is uneven and if each holder 10 is moved a distance equal to the distance between every second holder. further combinations can be provided. In addition. the analyzing arrangement can be made up of separate units so that a variation in the reaction time can be obtained by adding or removing one or more of the units.

In accordance with a further modification, station V can be provided with a cleaning set-up (not shown) for cleaning the receptacles l2 and drying them with air. The cleaning setup would, of course. be controlled so that cleaning is limited to those receptacles for which analysis has been completed. It is possible to omit cleaning ofthe receptacles where the receptacles are of a disposable type.

Although the operation of the arrangement of FIG. I has been explained relative to a single holder 10, it is obvious that a relatively large number of such holders can be utilized. The chieflimitation on this number. for a given path 14. is the amount of space required to permit rotation ofa holder. which is determined by the distance between adjacent holders as well as the particular size and design of the individual holders. Further. with the proviso that rotation of the holders not take place at or near a station where liquid is supplied because of possible interference with the supply pipettes, rotation of a holder can be provided at any position along path 14 and, further. where desired. a holder can be rotated at several different stations.

Referring to FIGS. 2 to 4, there is illustrated a preferred embodiment of a holder, a conveyor for the holder and a station for providing rotation of the holder. The conveyor forming path 14 of FIG. 1 includes first and second spaced slide bars 24 and 26 each of L-shaped cross section. A holder I0 rides along the upper surface of the horizontal. inwardly extending flanges of the slide bars 24 and 26. The upper portion 10a ofholder 10 includes apertures 10b in which receptacles 12 are received and is of substantially square shape so that rotation thereof is prevented due to the relative size thereof as compared with the spacing between bars 24 and 26. Holder ]0 further comprises a toothed gear portion 104 which is located beneath the upper portion 10a and which serves a purpose described hereinbelow.

The vertical flanges of bars 24 and 26 include recesses 28 at an area corresponding to station II of FIG. I. Rotation of holder 14 is permitted at this position along conveyor path 14 and to this end, a gear track 30 comprising a series of gear teeth is located on bar 24 adja cent and beneath recess 28. Gear track 30 cooperates with the teeth 1012 on holder 10 to provide rotation of holder 10 when holder is conveyed along path 14 in the direction of arrow 31 (compare the two holders in FIG. 3), a counter clockwise rotation being provided in the specific embodiment under consideration. As is perhaps best seen from FIG. 4, rotation of holder 10 takes place about a central vertical shaft 32 which extends upwardly through, and is affixed to. the upper portion of holder 10.

An endless conveyor belt 34 (not shown in FIG. 2) is utilized to move holder 10 along the path 14 formed by bars 24 and 26. Belt 34 includes holes 36 therein in which the shaft 32 of a holder 10 can be rotatably journalled.

Although the embodiment of FIGS. 2 to 4 possesses a number of important advantages, other forms of the holder. holder path and conveyor may be utilized. For example, each holder can include radially directed strips which ride in the recess formed in a guiding bar or rail of inverted U-shaped form. Such a guiding rail would normally prevent rotation of the holders but would be provided with suitable recesses for enabling rotation of the holders at a position corresponding to station II of FIG. 1. This rotation can be achieved by providing the underside of the holders with radial recesses for cooperating with a fixed guiding pin such that when the holder passes the pin the desired angular rotation of the holder is obtained.

In the embodiment of FIGS. 2 to 4, each holder is adapted to receive four receptacles. In the embodiment of the holder of FIG. 5, twelve receptacles may be received in a single holder 40. If the holder 40 is rotated 90 at station ll, sample liquid together with reagent will be supplied at position I to those three receptacles which lie along line 42. When the holder next reaches position I and hence is rotated 90", sample liquid and reagent may be supplied to those receptacles which lie along line 44. Further, by a suitable arrangement of the fluid supply device and the device for analyzing the re action, a number ofdifferent combinations of analyzing channels and reaction times can be achieved with the holder of FIG. 5. For example, in accordance with one extreme the sample liquid and reagent can be caused to pass along the path 14 twelve times before the reaction result is analyzed while. in accordance with another extreme. sample liquid and reagent is supplied simultaneously to all twelve receptacles at a station corresponding to station I and the reaction results are simultaneously read off at a station corresponding to station V. i.e., when the holder 40 has been conveyed only once around the travel path thereof. The dashed line 46 in FIG. 5 indicates how a selected group of three receptacles can be combined. Sample liquid and reagent are supplied simultaneously to the receptacles in this group and liquid is withdrawn simultaneously from the receptacles to provide analysis. By suitable design of the holders, appropriate grouping of the re ceptacles and proper control of the angles through which the holders are rotated. a great variation in the modes of operation of the basic arrangement can be provided.

It should be pointed out that the invention is not limited to the use of liquid in the receptacles and these may contain solids such as powders. More generally. it is also noted that the invention is not limited to the field of use discussed above Although the invention has been described relative to an exemplary embodiment thereof, and examples of possible variations in this embodiment have been given, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that further variations and modifications can be effected in these embodiments without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention.

I claim:

1. An arrangement for conveying receptacle holders along a predetermined path to different treatment stations in an automatic analyzing apparatus, said arrangement comprising means for conveying at least one holder along the path, means located at at least one location along the path for selectively rotating the holder relative to the path, the angle of rotation being equal to the angle formed between a radial line between the center of rotation of the holder and one receptacle of the holder and a radial line between said center of rotation of the holder and another receptacle of the holder, means for supplying a fluid to at least one receptacle, means for recovering the contents of the receptacle to which the fluid is added and means for analyzing the recovered contents.

2. An arrangement as claimed in claim 1 wherein said liquid supply means comprises a device for supplying liquid to a predetermined number of receptacles of a holder and said analyzing means comprises means for simultaneously analyzing the contents of a like number of receptacles of the holder.

3. An arrangement as claimed in claim 1 wherein each holder includes a multiple m of n receptacles and said angle of rotation is equal to l/m th of a complete revolution of the holder.

4. An arrangement as claimed in claim 1 wherein each holder includes a multiple m of n receptacles and said angle of rotation is equal to l/n th of a complete revolution of the holder.

5. An arrangement as claimed in claim 1 wherein first and second spaced slide bars are located along the path of travel of the holder on opposite sides thereof for nor mally preventing rotation of the holder, said slide bars permitting rotation of the holder at at least one location therealong.

6. An arrangement as claimed in claim 4 wherein said slide bars support the holder.

7. An arrangement as claimed in claim 6 wherein the side walls of said slide bars are recessed at said at least one location to permit rotation of the holder, said holder including gear means thereon and said arrangement including gear means at said at least one location for cooperating with gear means on said holder to provide rotation of said holder as said holder is conveyed along the path.

8. An arrangement as claimed in claim 7 wherein said slide bars are L-shaped in cross section, the horizontal leg of the L supporting the holder and the vertical leg of the L forming said side walls, said means for conveying the holder comprising endless belt means and the holder including a central shaft which is journalled for rotation in said belt means.

9. An arrangement as claimed in claim 1 wherein said conveying means comprises endless belt means for con veying the at least one holder along the path, the holder being rotatably mounted with respect to said belt means.

Patent Citations
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4039286 *Jul 16, 1976Aug 2, 1977W. C. Heraeus GmbhAutomatic chemical analysis apparatus
US4120662 *Jan 18, 1978Oct 17, 1978Cortex Research CorporationSpecimen sampling apparatus
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US6562298Apr 23, 1999May 13, 2003Abbott LaboratoriesStructure for determination of item of interest in a sample
US9339672Dec 12, 2012May 17, 2016Warren Watts Technology, LLCInitiator for fire suppressant canister
US9440101Sep 16, 2013Sep 13, 2016Warren Watts Technology, LLCFlame dispersant canister mounting system for under-microwave location
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Classifications
U.S. Classification422/64, 422/65, 422/67
International ClassificationB65G47/28, G01N35/02, G01N35/04
Cooperative ClassificationG01N35/026
European ClassificationG01N35/02E