Modules for partial automation in the laboratory


In an automated production of Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products (ATMPs), tubes or bottles have to be opened or closed frequently. These often contain valuable and sensitive contents or organisms. Therefore, it must be ensured that the opening and closing of these vessels functions reliably and sterilely. At the Fraunhofer IPT, we have developed several solutions for this purpose:

© Fraunhofer IPT
© Fraunhofer IPT
© Fraunhofer IPT

Autarkic Decapper

The autarkic decapper can automatically screw on and screw off the lids of bottles or tubes. To do this, the container must initially be inserted into the decapper. The subsequent process steps are automated. The decapper consists of two grippers: The first gripper holds and rotates the container, the second gripper holds the lid and moves it to storage after unscrewing. In storage, the lids are held by suction cups located on a rotating wheel. The decapper can thus store up to seven lids.

Collaborative Decapper

The collaborative decapper opens and closes containers in interaction with a robot. This concept is suitable for plants in which a robot is already present and saves components, complexity and space compared to the stand-alone decapper. The gripper of the decapper holds and rotates the vessel, while the robot holds and then deposits the lid.

GMP-compliant decapper

This decapper is a special form of collaborative decapper and was developed with full GMP compliance and sterilizability with hydrogen peroxide in mind. For this purpose, the device consists of special motors and components, has a smooth, easy-to-clean surface and is completely sealed. For decapping, the robot grips the vessel while the lid is held and rotated by the device.


© Fraunhofer IPT

Many cells and reagents need to be stored at low temperatures to reduce metabolic processes in favor of shelf life. For this purpose, we develop solutions for the storage of laboratory vessels at 4°C, -20°C, as well as -80°C. Depending on the application, we use established cooling devices and modify them for integration into the automated production environment, or develop a completely proprietary device.

Robot gripper

© Fraunhofer IPT

The robotic grippers in the biotechnological production environment must be designed to grip a wide variety of geometries, be able to reach all positions, and be robust and easy to clean. At the Fraunhofer IPT, we develop customer-specific robot grippers and manufacture them in-house using the additive metal printing process (LPBF).


Roboterarm führt eine Probe in eine Schleuse ein.
© Fraunhofer IPT

When materials are transferred to an area with a different cleanroom grade, contamination of the sensitive areas must be avoided at all costs. For this purpose, we develop airlocks with an integrated ventilation system that prevents air from being transported to the higher cleanroom grade. Furthermore, a cooling system can be integrated to store the product gently during the airlocking process.


© Fraunhofer IPT

In laboratory automation, the variety of vessels used should be kept to a minimum in order to simplify their transport, handling and storage. In order to still be compatible with all devices and processes, we develop adapter pieces, which we additively manufacture in-house from medical and autoclavable plastic.