Robotic sample preparation
In its Rovaniemi laboratory, Labtium offers totally automated rock sample preparation as a routine method.
Several benefits are achieved though totally automated sample preparation. Consistency (accuracy/repeatability) can never be attained in manual preparation, in which a number a different people carry out the work. Even though the procedures may be well documented and regulated, individuals do not carry out tasks in exactly the same way, and human errors are always possible. In our system, the most critical aspect of the whole process, i.e. maintaining sample representativity while reducing particle and sample size, is carried out by state-of–the-art rotary splitters.
Contamination control is a vital issue in the QC of sample preparation. This, too, can be carried out more precisely and consistently in automated systems. Aspects such as loss of fines, segregation of materials by density, particle shape and size, and cross contamination from a previous sample can be controlled by sealed compartments and by optimizing the system parameters of e.g. splitters, controlled dedusting, and cleaning of the machine working surfaces.
The Labtium concept utilizes a unique glass bead blasting method in cleaning pucks and bowls. The quality of the cleaning procedure can also be monitored by the human eye – something that is not possible in flow-through type pulverizers. Clearly, the increased capacity will have positive effects on turn-around times and cost-efficiency. However, the most important benefits are improved working conditions, since sealing makes it possible to control and minimize equipment noise and exposure to mineral dust. Laboratory staff are freed from physically hard and repetitive work and can undertake more challenging and versatile work.
For the client, the benefit of robotized sample preparation is a shorter turnaround time, and better quality control in sample preparation.
Our sample preparation line includes
- sample logging into LIMS and recording of sample weight
- fine crushing of the rock sample to >70% <2mm particle size (32)
- rotary splitting of the crushed sample to a 0,6 -1,5 kg subsample and a reject (38)
- bagging and bar code labelling with sample weight and track record of the crushed reject
- pulverizing the split subsample by LM2 mills to >90% <100µm grain size, using low-chrome bowls (52)
- subsampling to a weighed vial sample with bar code labelling, and to a Fire Assay sample of 25 or 50g (704/705) if requested
- cleaning the bowl and puck with efficient glass bead blasting after the pulverizing of every sample
- dosing the Fire Assay flux to the FA-subsample (25/50g) and preparing the mixture to a crucible ready to fusion.
The maximum weight of the sample that can be prepared in the unit is 10kg. However, samples weighing >4kg are subject to an additional charge. The minimum weight of the sample is 600g. Additional vial subsample can be representatively split, e.g. for sending to a second laboratory (39). Crushed reject and vial are returned to the client or diposed (waste disposal charge 902).