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firefly®

Accelerate genomic research with innovative all-in-one, compact liquid handling

The firefly® tour is on its way to you!

The firefly impact

Innovative all-in-one liquid handling brings together multiple technologies within a single compact design for more efficient library and sample preparation workflows and maximum output. Underpinned by powerful, intuitive software, firefly unlocks the potential of automation for all to accelerate genomic research.

All-in-one

firefly simplifies your genomic liquid handling workflows, combining pipetting, dispensing, incubating, and shaking technologies within an ingenious all-in-one solution.

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Compact design

firefly’s compact, streamlined design makes intelligent use of precious laboratory footprint, allowing you to do more genomics research with less space. The best things do come in small packages.

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Peer-to-peer

firefly connects researchers and inspires bigger breakthroughs through a first-in-class peer-to-peer cloud-based network. Share custom protocols and swiftly access validated tools to deepen collaboration and accelerate innovation.

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Intuitive, powerful software

firefly sets a new standard in powerful liquid handling software. Its intuitive interface unlocks the potential of automation for all, putting you in control of your workflows without the need for complex programming.

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Field Application Scientists

Working with you to advance genomics research

SPT Labtech technologies transform the way scientists work in genomics with solutions trusted by leading academic centres, biopharmaceutical companies, and technology partners around the world. Our specialist team of application scientists work closely with you to ensure that the protocols for your applications are scientifically robust, giving you the confidence to implement new genomic liquid handling workflows.

 
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Boost efficiency and flexibility with novel dispensing technology

firefly harnesses novel dispensing technology to minimize tip use, reduce reagent dead volumes, and miniaturize protocols allowing you to maximize your research output. Use 3 or 6 dragonfly tip options in any combination for ultimate dispensing speed and flexibility.

new-standard-for-software

Setting a new standard for software

firefly sets a new standard in liquid handling software, simplifying automated workflows with a highly accessible user interface, log-in access control, and presumptive ‘intelligence’. The ability to author on any PC maximizes efficiency when in the lab, while full version management ensures a complete audit trail.

Watch firefly software demo

Shaping a new era of genomics research

Our liquid handling portfolio provides you with accurate and repeatable nanolitre to microlitre pipetting and dispensing, every time, irrespective of liquid viscosity or environmental conditions.

We harness innovative technology to streamline workflows and accelerate research. Robust, reliable, and easy to use, our products overcome tough technical challenges and enable researchers to focus on the best science.

System architecture

firefly features a 384 pipetting module and 3 or 6 dispense heads to provide flexible high performance approaches to a range of applications such as NGS library prep and PCR set up. An ingenious 2 tier moving deck system with an additional sub-deck layer for accessories packs a lot of capability into a very small footprint.

Pipetting head operates in several configurations: 384, 96, columns of 16 (384 format) and 8 (96 format) from 0.5uL to 125uL (extending to 500uL with optional adapter). Utilizes robust and proven air displacement technology with disposable tips and a range of tip types including sterile and filtered options.

Dispense heads provide either 3 or 6 positive displacement syringes for non-contact, liquid agnostic reagent dispensing. Syringes can operate completely independently for multiple reagent dispensing or in parallel (any combination) for speed.

The gripper module works in combination with the pipetting head and can move labware between the decks and sub-deck levels.

Optional application accessories provide greater walk-away capability with options for magnetic plates, cooling and heating tiles, and shakers.

The safety enclosure protects users from moving parts while protecting samples and reagents from airborne contaminants. A large interlocked door provides safe and easy access to load the system.

firefly sets a new standard in genomics liquid handling software with easy accessible user interface, secure log-in and audit trails, multiple user levels and intelligent programming. With cloud-based sharing and the ability to author on any PC, firefly software makes automation accessible to any lab user.

The graphical interface is extremely intuitive and accessible to users of all levels. Researcher scan quickly build new protocols on any Windows PC or compatible device, even in the coffee shop! Simple drag and drop enables easy protocol set up with accessible extended features for fine tuning by advanced users. Protocols can also be locked down and tailored to provide the simplest set up for any user with clear running instructions to make the system truly accessible to anyone in the lab. Powerful audit trails and user access also ensure that methods are protected and provide tools to aid compliance in regulated environments.

firefly can be programmed and protocols executed at the instrument through the integrated tablet. The software can also be installed on external Windows-based devices to enable protocol writing away from the system. Easily share protocols with the instrument via the cloud connection, network or even a USB stick providing ultimate flexibility and convenience.

firefly software provides cloud access to a user community enabling the sharing of protocols between users and access to SPT labtech validated protocols and tools.

The pipetting head has a 384 core capable of parallel pipetting up to 384 individual samples between 0.5uL and 125uL (extended to 500uL with adaptor plate in 96 format only). Disposable tips are available in other formats to support working in both 384 and 96 well labware.

Tip formats

  • 384 standard, sterile, filtered and sterile; 125uL, 50uL and 15uL
  • 96 standard, sterile, filtered and sterile; 125uL, 50uL and 15uL
  • 8 strips (96 format) standard, sterile, filtered and steril; 125uL, 50uL and 15uL
  • 16 strips (384 format) standard, sterile, filtered and steril; 125uL, 50uL and 15uL

Strip tips enable users to work with partial plates or across plates to facilitate processes such as serial dilutions

An optional adaptor plate extends the pipetting range to 500uL (96 format only)

The system is equipped with either 3 or 6 dispensing heads which can be synchronized for high throughput or controlled independently for reagent flexibility.

True positive displacement disposable syringes provide liquid class agnostic non-contact dispensing of volumes from 200nL to 4mL. Each syringe can be used as a 4mL reservoir to multi-dispense smaller volumes, dispensing to a whole 96 or 384 well plate in as little as 30 seconds.

The non-contact dispensing mechanism enables tips to be used for multiple operations per reagent and dramatically reduces tip consumption versus standard pipetting approaches. No calibration, cleaning, or maintenance is required and there is zero chance of blocking or clogging.

The pipetting head includes a gripper module capable of moving labware between the deck and sub deck layers and moving labware on and off functional modules such as shakers and heater/cooler plates as well as magnetic blocks.

The gripper can move certain accessories such as incubation adaptor plates, so a microplate being maintained below deck on a heater/cooler plate can be moved to deck on its adaptor plate to maintain temperature whilst on the deck for pipetting or dispensing, before being returned to the heater/cooler to return to active temperature control.

The gripper is capable of moving labware with pipette tips in place for increased workflow efficiency, alternatively tips can be removed before working with the gripper. It moves in tandem with the pipetting head in terms of Y and Z movement as well as having a further Z motion so that it can reach down below the pipette tips to grip labware. The grip mechanism can be trained to pick and place a wide variety of ANSI/SBS labware.

At a time of unprecedented digital change, we see unprecedented opportunity, and the organisations that move first are more likely to win. Our goal is to start the journey with you. We’ll help you understand what can be done and how best to do it. De-risking your digital transformation is the first step to success. Executing quickly to gain advantage and extract value from your technology is the second.

Igniting a brighter future of genomics liquid handling

CEO-SPT-Labtech

“We are excited to have created firefly, marking a step change towards a brighter future of genomics liquid handling. By democratizing access to intuitive, multi-functional automation, we will empower laboratories to drive even bigger genomic breakthroughs.”

— David Newble, CEO, SPT Labtech

Technical Specification

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Instrument variants firefly 3 and firefly 6 Pipetting module 384 pipetting core capable of loading 384, 96 or columns of 8 (96 format) or 16 (384 format)
Pipetting range and performance 0.5uL to 125uL, extended to 500uL with 4in1 adaptor (96 format only) <3%* cv at 1uL and above; +/- 2%* error at 1uL and above *Based on QC performance checks using aqueous reagents and specific microplates Particle sizes less than 0.032” diameter to prevent tip blockage
Tip options (NS = Non sterile, S = Sterile, FS = Filtered and sterile)
384 tips
125uL 125-384-EZ=NS/S/FS
50uL 050-384-EZ=NS/S/FS
15uL 015-384-EZ=NS/S/FS
96 tips 125uL tbc
50uL tbc
Strip tips 384 format 125uL 125-016-EZ-NS/S/FS
50uL 050-016-EZ-NS/S/F
Strip tips 96 format 125uL 125-008-EZ-NS/S/FS
50uL 050-008-EZ-NS/S/FS
4in1 adaptor option p.n. Tbc converts 384 core to 500uL core (96 only) Tips 500uL 550-096-EZ-NS/S/FS
250uL 250-096-EZ-NS/S/FS
Gripper Module Compatible with most SBS/ANSI labware Dispense Module
Dispense volume range 200nL to 4mL Bulk dispense speed
starting from
30 seconds per 96 or 384 well plate
Dead volume 30uL or 200uL recoverable dead volume depending on reservoir type Reservoir options Standard and low dead volume disposable troughs
Auto feed reservoirs
Primary SBS/ANSI plate formats 96, 384 and 1536* well labware including deepwell blocks and 96 format tubes up to 45mm in height. (*1536 is compatible with dispensing module and a limited range of pipetting options) Optional accessories Microplate cooler/heater block
Microplate shaker
Microplate cooler/heater/shaker
Dispense module reagent cooler/heater
4in1 pipetting adaptor
Dimensions (W x D x H) 660mm x 560mm x780mm Weight 100Kg
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See firefly in action

Download the firefly app

Get views of the firefly up close for yourself by downloading our augmented reality (AR) app from the Apple App Store.

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application-ready

Application ready

firefly is fully application ready with pre-validated protocols for library preparation kits NEBNext Ultra II DNA; NEBNext Ultra II FS DNA; NEBNext Ultra II RNA, and Illumina DNA Prep with a rolling program of new validated protocols in development. Accessories for heating, cooling and shaking as well as magnetic blocks extend firefly’s capabilities in your lab.

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Accurate and precise pipetting for genomics research

firefly delivers highly accurate and precise air displacement pipetting in the 0.5 ul to 125 uL range accommodating a variety of 96 or 384 well plate formats. Automated tip loading streamlines time consuming processes and flexible column loading makes it easier for researchers to manage partial plates or partitioning of plates.

FAQs about firefly

Below are our answers to the top 10 most frequent questions about firefly. You download the full FAQ document using the button below.

View Q&A document

No. This is something we've tested extremely carefully. We've got extensive data showing there aren't any issues of cross-contamination. You won't encounter splashing. The firefly dispenser uses the exact same technology as our dragonfly dispenser, which was used heavily over the past couple of years in a range of national centers in the US and across Europe.

We have been answering this common question about cross-contamination since we launched our dragonfly non-contact dispensing systems several years ago. Our dragonfly has been widely adopted during the pandemic for mastermix dispensing in sensitive qPCR and Covid-Seq protocols. It has undergone much scrutiny to prove that its dispensing doesn't result in splashing that could lead to well-to-well contamination.

The ramping times for the incubator block are rapid but designed for incubations only. The temperature can be changed automatically mid-protocol, so it can be used for different incubation temperatures (from -10C to 95C). PCR should be done off-line for now. We're developing an add-on unit for release in 2023 that will provide fully integrated thermal cycling with a hand-off to a thermocycler. We didn’t include a thermocycler initially because we found that many customers prefer to run it offline, so as not to block the instrument for 60 or 90 minutes during the thermocycling steps. Adding an onboard thermocycler would have increased the footprint of the instrument.

Yes. firefly is designed with both LIMS and integrators in mind. Depending on your workflow that could just be a simple file transfer, e.g. tracking samples via input and output files such as a CSV file, or large-scale integration with software control via the integrated robot. We're working with a number of integration companies to refine the API on an ongoing basis. Please reach out to us for more information on this, SiLA compatibility, etc. In terms of hardware, the side panels can be removed to provide robot access from either side or the front of the instrument.

We support a handheld barcode reader that enables scanning of during the loading process to track and record all elements used in a protocol. This was the preferred method suggested by most users during development. In our development roadmap, we have the option to offer fully automated barcode scanning in the future if there is a strong requirement from the market. If you have a specific use case that would warrant automated scanning, please get in touch with us to discuss this and any other elements of your applications.

Yes. The dispense side is very flexible. You have complete control over the dispense motor, which is independent for each of the syringes. You could use a single syringe to work across a plate with different volumes to get different concentrations. Or, if you want to do it faster, you can aspirate a common reagent across all 6 tips to dispense different volumes to different wells simultaneously.

The non-contact dispenser gives you a powerful way of setting up gradients or running normalizations. You can use a CSV file to deliver a different diluent volume to each well. Using this approach, you get different final volumes, with the sample volume kept constant and just the diluent volume varied. It's a very fast process - the variable diluent volume can be added in as little as 30 seconds if all 6 syringes are used, and in a little over 3 minutes if only 1 dispense syringe is used.

For 96-well plates, we typically have a dead volume of less than 2µL and less than 1µL in 384-well PCR plates. This is based on aspirating from the well in order to transfer liquid into another well. It's slightly different in the case of a bead clean-up. Here we can over-aspirate from a well and leave the well virtually dry – the aspirate would then typically be put to a waste plate, so accurate dispensing and air bubbles are not a concern in this scenario. In terms of magnetic beads, these are usually isolated part way up the well, so that virtually all the waste liquid can be removed without disturbing the beads.

This depends on your application. It can run a non-contact dispense across an entire 384-well plate in as little as 30 seconds. The 384/96 pipetting head can then perform a tip load, plus sample transfer, in around 30 seconds. Let us know about your application, so we can give you a more specific throughput estimation.

Feedback from customers has been very positive about the potential benefits of sharing and collaborating in a community of users. Users that share protocols will do so in the good faith that others will also share, and all will benefit. Only time will tell how successful this will be, but we are highly optimistic of success in this area.

There's a small wetting volume in the syringes themselves of about 15µL (including an over-aspirate as a safety margin). There's a minimum volume in the reservoirs to ensure bubble-free aspiration. For a standard reservoir, the dead volume is 130µL, of which 120µL is recoverable from the reservoir. There's also a low dead volume (LDV) reservoir with a dead volume of 70uL, of which 55uL is recoverable. These numbers represent the default settings for robust operation, but it's possible to improve them further with careful optimization.

We recommend Windows 10. The software is open license and can be installed on any Windows device that enables users to author protocols anywhere and send to the system remotely. The software can also be operated on a Mac using Parallels, so protocols can be written off-line (the instrument must be controlled by a windows device – a Windows tablet is included, or, alternatively, an external PC can be used).

Our insights explore the latest genomic liquid handling trends.