The Festo Group - Life Science market
Festo is both a global player and an independent family-owned company based in Esslingen am Neckar, Germany. The company has become the global market leader in its sector over the past 60 years thanks to its innovations and problem-solving competency, as well as a unique range of industrial training and vocational education programmes. Festo has been developing components and system solutions for equipment manufacturers who specialise in the automation of laboratory processes and the manufacture of medical devices since 2004.
Due to its annual double-digit growth rate, the LifeTech business area has been a separate division of Festo since 2015 and is being continuously expanded. Since the United States is at the forefront of the global life science market, it’s there that most industry-relevant innovations and new technologies emerge. In order to participate in these developments at an early stage, Festo began setting up a development centre in Boston at the end of 2017.
In addition to standard components, the LifeTech division develops separate components with new technologies that are designed specifically for the Life Science market. In the development of customised automation solutions for its customers, Festo’s approach involves the joint development of engineering concepts together with the customer, beginning already with the very first planning phase.
Product range for laboratory automation
Festo develops intelligent, tested subsystems for the automation of liquid media and sample handling applications.
The focus is on:
- Feeding and identification of test tubes
- Opening and closing of test tubes
- Feeding of liquid media and solids
The applications involve the use of both electric and pneumatic actuators with motors, controllers and handling systems, as well as grippers, sensors and camera systems.
One example is the compact rotary gripper module EHMD, which can grip and rotate sample vials, it is unique on the market so far. It opens and closes the smallest sample vials with a volume of up to 15 millilitres without any problems.
New among the dispensing heads is the VTOI dispensing head. With its eight channels and a grid size of 9 mm, it is ideally suited for filling microtitre plates in laboratory automation. The eight channels are controlled simultaneously via only one valve. Thanks to the VAEM valve control module, this is done quickly and with high precision. The temporal resolution of the control signal is only 0.2 ms. Another plus point is the holding current reduction. This saves energy and at the same time minimises heat input.
Product range for medical technology
In the field of medical technology, Festo develops products and subsystems for medical devices.
Attention is focused on efficient open and closed-loop control of medical gases, for example:
- Flow control with compact valves for ventilation and anaesthesia devices
- Pneumatic integration solutions for surgical devices
- Closed-loop control of fluids in dental stations
One product highlight is the VYKA, a media-separated solenoid valve for precise dispensing of liquids or controlling liquid flows in manifold duct plates. The media separation ensures highest possible safety standards and chemical resistance. With a width of only 7 mm (NW 1.2 mm), VYKA controls very small, even aggressive liquid quantities (µl, ml) with high precision. The holding current reduction of the plug-in VAVE electronics prevents sensitive media from heating up. For higher flow rates, the VYKB is used.
The lightweight, compact proportional solenoid valve VPWS with a 6mm nozzle was last launched in 2021. It is predestined for applications with small installation space, for example when it comes to mixing ventilation gases in ventilation and anaesthesia systems. It is also suitable for dental drills and other compressed air-operated surgical instruments. Whenever gas flows of up to 270 l/min need to be precisely controlled.
Also new is the miniature valve VOVK. Due to its small size of only 5.9 mm width and its extremely low energy consumption, it is ideally suited for operating many switching valves side by side in the smallest space. Possible applications include in-vitro diagnostics (IVD) for small point-of-care (POC) devices. The miniature valves activate the process that ensures that the liquid reagents react with each other and the analysis process starts. Similarly, it can be used to control the flow of fluids in dialysis machines to actuate membrane switches that keep contaminated fluids separated from the system.
Festo is a global player and an independent family-owned company with headquarters in Esslingen am Neckar, Germany. Festo has set standards in industrial automation technology and technical education ever since its establishment, thereby making a contribution to sustainable development of the environment, the economy and society. The company supplies pneumatic and electrical automation technology to 300,000 customers of factory and process automation in over 35 industries. The LifeTech sector with medical technology and laboratory automation is becoming increasingly important. The products and services are available in 176 countries. With about 20,000 employees in over 250 branch offices in 61 countries worldwide, Festo achieved a turnover of around €2.84 billion in 2020. Each year around 8 % of this turnover is invested in research and development. In this learning company, 1.5 % of turnover is invested in basic and further training. Festo Didactic SE is a leading provider of technical education and training and offers its customers worldwide comprehensive digital and physical learning solutions in the industrial environment.