Space-Fill Design of Experiments (DOE) with Synthace and the dragonfly® discovery

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SPT Labtech dragonfly discovery dispensing
We started working together because we became aware of this customer-led interest in implementing the Synthace platform in tandem with the dragonfly discovery. The fact that our two organizations share a strong ethos of customer care and innovation has enabled the partnership to come together very quickly. Anne Hammerstein, DPhil Product Manager at SPT Labtech

What is Design of Experiments?

Design of Experiments (DOE) is a holistic approach that allows you to study the effect of multiple factors and their interactions on an assay in parallel. With so many factors playing a part, traditional one-factor-at-a-time (OFAT) methods are no longer feasible as they can require a multitude of optimization tests, costing time and resources.

design of experiments

Why DOE with Synthace?

DOE is an ideal tool for developing assays with desired traits, but executing a complex DOE design on a liquid handler requires advanced automation programming skills. Synthace removes all major barriers to entry for scientists wanting to use DOE to optimize their assays, providing an interface that seamlessly converts DOE designs into automation instructions for DOE-driven assay optimization. 

design of experiments

Rapid, automated execution of a high-dimensional space-filling Design of Experiments for assay development

In this case study, we combine the speed and accuracy of SPT Labtech’s dragonfly® discovery dispenser with the flexible planning and data aggregation capabilities of Synthace’s software platform to unlock the possibility of physically executing a 6-factor space-filling DOE to comprehensively characterize the design space for an enzymatic assay in a single rapid experiment.

Poster: dragonfly discovery DoE 2020 results


Runs in space-fill DOE

Two sets of triplicates of 384 runs and corresponding controls


Liquid handling steps

Total number of pipetting steps needed to perform the space-fill DOE


Hours taken

The DOE campaign was executed in one work day by a single user

SPT Labtech Antha case study multifactorial experiments results

Greater than 90% time savings made when using Synthace and dragonfly® discovery for planning, execution and data aggregation for a space-filling DOE. Comparison of time expected to perform a single replicate of a 384-run space-filling design of a spectrophotometric assay showed that Synthace provides a 90% time saving in execution planning and data aggregation, while the dragonfly® discovery provides a 98% time saving in liquid handling time compared with an average pipetting robot. Expected times are based on our in-house experience and liquid handling simulations in Synthace. We found that a pipetting robot was not suitable for this application due to significant evaporation effects over 14 hours of liquid handling.

The use of Synthace reduced time spent on planning the 20,745 liquid handling steps and data aggregation from the microplate reader, by 75% and 94% respectively. The dragonfly® discovery reduced liquid handling time by 98% compared with an average pipetting robot, as well as eliminating 99.9% of the number of tips needed.