Carbon Design Group

Nanopoint Microfluidics Controller

Advancing the state of the art. Building on the successful introduction of cellTRAY, a breakthrough technology in live cell imaging, Carbon helped propel Nanopoint with an iconic, easy-to-use, controller for their revolutionary biomedical research tool.

Advancing Live Cell Imaging

Nanopoint, a leading biotechnology company, developed their revolutionary cellTRAY® (also a Carbon design collaboration) technology to enable researchers to study small groups of living cells over extended periods of time. This Microfluidics Controller is a life-support system for their cellTRAY® that allows long-term live cell studies when used with their ground-breaking “bio-incubator on a slide” technology.

Delivering Life-Support on a Microscopic Level

The Microfluidics controller feeds nutrients to the cellTRAY with one set of tubes, then removes waste with another set.

The Controller regulates the temperature in the bio-incubator, manages the flow rate of nutrients, enables the controlled delivery of pharmaceutical compounds, and removes metabolic waste produced by the living cells. Based on the success of the CellTRAY, Nanopoint wanted create a highly functional and distinctive piece of laboratory equipment.The precise delivery of extremely small fluid volumes, measured in microliters per second allows researchers to extend live cell studies for several days.

Valuable Real Estate

A wide range of pump orientations were examined in order to find the solution that minimized footprint, maximized ease-of-access, and increased appeal.

In labs, bench-top space is at a premium, so the overall footprint would have to be minimized. To visually underscore Nanopoint’s progressive technology, the Microfluidics Controller needed to be strikingly unique, yet still at home in the research environment. A thorough analysis by Carbon’s industrial designers led to an inspiration that integrated the many aspirations into a single form:  stacking the pumps and tilting them on a diagonal offered a reduced footprint and created a recognizable product.

Elegantly Organized

Cable management was simplified by eliminating slack and organizing the rats’ nest of tubing into bundles. The resulting onion-shaped silhouette enhanced functionality, usability, and created visual distinction.

The tube sets responsible for the delivery of pharmaceuticals and removal of waste are an important part of the system. The set includes 28 micro-diameter tubes, 20 of which are routed to the microscope-slide-sized bio-incubator. These tubes need to be managed to eliminate complexity and maximize ease-of-use. Tube lengths must be short and uniform to standardize flow rates and the radius of their bends minimized in order to optimize functionality.

Market Success & Recognition

The product is simple, clean, and distinct. The sophisticated yet easy-to-use and understand design has helped increase adoption by avoiding the resistance such paradigm-changing, new technologies often face.

Nanopoint’s Microfluidics Controller has been embraced by bio-pharmaceutical laboratories and in-vitro fertilization clinics for its groundbreaking advancement in precision cell culture management.

The Nanopoint Microfluidics Controller has been recognized with three major design awards. (See right.)


  • Industrial Design

2009 IDEA Gold

2010 Silver Spark Award

2010 Good Design Award

  • LinkedIn
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr