Well Plate Assembly

Design Challenge

Our client created a novel method of inducing injury to neurons to simulate traumatic brain injuries. He used a multi-step process to create a 96 well plate assembly with a unique silicone-lined bottom. This well plate assembly served as a rapid testing cell for drug delivery compounds, but it had one problem: the silicone sheet does not adhere to the well plate with a consistent flatness. Some wells have dimples in the silicone that introduced error into the imaging of the cells.

Design: 3-Step Tension Frame

Step 1: A press-fit frame grips the silicone.
Step 2: An island block introduces tension to the silicone.
Step 3: The die press brings the well plate in contact with the silicone.

Results: Failed Wells Reduced by 71%

To vaildate the performance of our design, we went to the UChicago Cellular Screening Center to get precise information at each well. 8 plates with the untensioned method, and 8 plates with the tension frame were created for imaging. The autmated laserfocus microscope reported variation of the silicone flatness in microns for each plate as shown below.

I conducted basic statistics of the data and created the graphic below to compare the average failures for the original and improved methods. A "failed well" is a well with variation greater than the imaging range of the microscope; our design reduced the number of failures by a factor of 3.5! This made a significant impact on our client's future research; increasing the number of usable wells is ultimately what makes the difference in discovering which drugs treat nerve injury and which drugs do do not.