October 6, 2020

Hamilton & CSEM’s DropWatch technology

Fast. Wide-ranging. Precise. These are the words used by Hamilton to describe their new MagPip liquid handling system. Here, we look in closer detail at this new high-throughput pipetting platform, whose precise droplet volume measurement is supported by technology developed at CSEM.

DropWatch technology

"When liquid handling meets vision technology, close cooperation is essential," says Hanspeter Romer, Head of Research and New Technologies Robotics at Hamilton. “The MagPip system is capable of pipetting smallest volumes from the sub-microliter range of 350 nanoliters up to 750 microliters and thanks to the partnership with CSEM, we are now able to analyze and quantify even the smallest droplets with unprecedented accuracy and resolution,” he adds.

Revolutionizing the world of pipetting was never going to be an easy feat, as “extending the volume range of MagPip towards the sub-microliter scale required new methods to determine volumes, as conventional gravimetric methods were no longer sufficient,” confirms Mr. Romer, Hamilton. Now, this leading liquid handling tech supplier has solved this issue by embracing a new vision-based measuring system developed at CSEM. We introduce to you: DropWatch.

An eye on the DropWatch system

By taking optical measurements of in-flight droplets based on high-speed imaging, DropWatch can record the fast dynamics of droplet dispensing, precisely measure droplet volume, and track 3D trajectories,” explains Peter Cristofolini, Senior R&D Engineer at CSEM. “Using two synchronized cameras positioned at 90 degrees to each other allows us to see each liquid dispensing event with up to 8’000 frames per second. With Hamilton’s powerful software we can reconstruct a high-resolution 3D animation of the droplet shape and its flight path, ensuring MagPip’s extremely accurate droplet volume measurement,” he adds.


DropWatch’s two FastEye cameras (fully developed by CSEM) are equipped with a powerful field-programmable gate array and embedded programmable neural network to record and analyze events in real-time. Dropwatch operators can control both cameras, set recording parameters, trigger, and inspect high-speed image sequences, thus making DropWatch a very versatile tool to analyze the fast dynamics of droplet dispensing.

Cooperation is key

Having CSEM as a cooperation partner on this project opened the door to us in finding the required vision technology. Their extensive experience in high-speed imaging systems means together we have developed an excellent piece of equipment that can precisely quantify even the smallest liquid volumes,” concludes Mr. Romer, Hamilton.