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

Maximize walkaway time with complete end-to-end automated NGS library preparation with the brand new firefly+

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.


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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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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dispensing-technology - Copyfirefly 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.

pipetting-launch - Copy (1)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.

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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


Liquid handling in LDTs

Streamline and accelerate NGS-driven Laboratory Developed Tests

Create more efficient and streamlined LDT workflows by automating repetitive and menial liquid handling tasks. With its versatility, intuitive software and dedicated service and support team, firefly allows you to work confidently at a higher throughput, reduce turnaround times and get results to patients faster.

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Maximize walkaway time with complete end-to-end automated NGS library preparation

firefly+ expands on the current liquid handling capabilities of firefly with an integrated thermocycler and additional labware capability, all while maintaining our commitment to usability and compact design.

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Book your tailored demo of firefly®

See for yourself how firefly simplifies genomic liquid handling with a personal demo tailored to your lab's workflow challenges.

Our revolutionary platform for genomics is shaping the future of NGS library prep by combining multiple technologies within a powerful all-in-one solution. A personalized demo will help you understand exactly how firefly can help you accelerate and streamline your process.

Book a 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. Utilizes robust and proven air displacement technology with disposable tips and a range of tip types including gamma irradiated 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. Disposable tips are available in other formats to support working in both 384 and 96 well labware.

Tip formats

  • 384 standard, gamma irradiated, filtered and gamma irradiated; 125uL and 50uL.
  • 96 standard, gamma irradiated, filtered and gamma irradiated; 125uL and 50uL.
  • 8 strips (96 format) standard, gamma irradiated, filtered and gamma irradiated; 125uL and 50uL.
  • 16 strips (384 format) standard, gamma irradiated, filtered and gamma irradiated; 125uL and 50uL.

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

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 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.

SPT Labtech_firefly+-2firefly+ expands on the current liquid handling capabilities of firefly with an integrated thermocycler and additional labware capability, all while maintaining our commitment to usability and compact design. firefly+ grants genomics researchers the ability to run completely automated NGS library preparation, giving even more time for critical thinking tasks like data analysis and experiment design. 

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Technical Specification

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Instrument variants firefly genomics 3 head
firefly genomics 6 head
firefly 3 head
firefly 6 head
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, <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
384 tip format Options of 50uL and 125uL gamma irradiated and non-gamma irradiated tips
Filtered tips available in 35uL and 100uL
Strips of 16 tips for 50uL and 125uL non-filtered, 35uL and 100uL filtered.
96 tip format Options of 50uL and 125uL gamma irradiated tips
Filtered tips available in 35uL and 100uL
Strips of 8 tips for 50uL and 125uL non-filtered, 35uL and 100uL filtered.
Gripper Module Compatible with most SBS/ANSI labware Dispense Module Choose from 3 or 6 independent positive displacement dispense heads
Dispense volume range 200nL to 4mL Bulk dispense speed starting from 30 seconds per 96 well plate
Dead volume 75 or 240 µL recoverable dead volume, depending on reservoir type Reservoir options Standard and low dead volume disposable troughs
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
Dispense module reagent cooler/heater
Dimensions (W x D x H) 670mm x 570mm x 800mm Weight 120Kg

Methods developed on firefly

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.


Application Area


Available in firefly cloud

In development

Library Preparation | RNA


NEBNext® Ultra™ II Directional RNA Library Prep - rRNA Depletion


Illumina Stranded mRNA Prep


Scale Biosciences' Single Cell RNA Kit >


NEBNext UltraExpress™ RNA Library Prep Kit


Watchmaker mRNA Library Prep Kit


cDNA Amplification with Takara SMART-Seq® v4


Illumina Stranded Total RNA Prep, Ligation with Ribo-Zero Plus / Ribo-Zero Plus Microbiome


mRNA-seq Preparation Protocol


NEBNext® Ultra™ II Directional RNA Library Prep - PolyA mRNA Selection


PolyA Selection using Invitrogen™ Dynabeads™


Ribosomal Depletion with Ribo-Erase


Takara SMART-Seq® v4 Ultra® Low Input RNA


Watchmaker RNA Library Prep with Polaris Depletion


Library Preparation | DNA | Whole genome

Roche KAPA EvoPlus >


PacBio SMRTbell® prep kit 3.0


Watchmaker DNA Library Preparation with Fragmentation >


NEBNext® Ultra™ II FS DNA Library Prep


Library Preparation | DNA | Small genome/ Plasmid/ amplicon

seqWell ExpressPlex Library Prep


Illumina Nextera XT DNA Library Preparation


Quantification | Library quantification

Roche KAPA Library Quantification Kits


NEBNext® Library Quant Kit for Illumina


Liquid handling verification

Artel MVS


Library Preparation | Single Cell Gene Expression

10X Genomics Chromium Next GEM Single Cell 5' HT v2 (Dual Index)


Library Preparation | DNA | Whole genome/ amplicon

Illumina DNA Prep


Library Preparation | DNA enrichment

IDT xGEN Hybridization Capture


Library Preparation | Single Cell Transcriptomics

Parse Evercode™ WT Mega v3



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Existing firefly user?

We've created a brand new product help center for existing firefly users, with user guides, how-to-videos and more to help you get the most out of your firefly system.

Product Help Center >


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.


Video library

Watch useful firefly videos like demonstrations and tutorials.

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39 mins

Webinar: Chan Zuckerberg Biohub
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10 mins

firefly Software Demo
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60 mins

The transition to automated library prep for enhanced pathogen surveillance workflows - Webinar
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13 mins

Writing a protocol on firefly
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48 mins

Webinar: Biopolymers Genomics Core Facility (BPF) at Harvard Medical School
Watch video
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62 mins

See data generated from firefly
Watch video

FAQs about firefly

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.

We' have continued to test this with firefly and have extensive data showing no evidence of cross contamination.

The on-deck heating blocks are designed for incubation only. 

An optional expansion unit, firefly+, integrates an on-deck thermocycler in 96 or 384-well format to support end-to-end automated NGS and PCR workflows.

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.

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 96-well plate in as little as 30 seconds. The 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 240µL, of which 230µL is recoverable from the reservoir. There's also a low dead volume (LDV) reservoir with a dead volume of 75uL, 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 minimum 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).

Yes, a documented verification process is available at time of purchase to record that the instrument has been correctly delivered, installed and configured. By choosing to do this with us, you can significantly reduce the start-up time required to document an install, with the confidence of fully trained firefly engineer.

Our insights explore the latest genomic liquid handling trends.