Case Study

Automated Powder Dispensing for Pharma & Biotech

Case Study

Easing the bottleneck in laboratory weighing applications

Easy Automated Powder Dispensing for Pharma and Biotech Applications
Easy Automated Powder Dispensing for Pharma and Biotech Applications

Automated powder dispensing for pharma and biotech R&D can increase efficiency in high-throughput applications, such as screening and formulation. Dispensing small defined amounts of powder is an important step in most pharma R&D workflows, and is currently considered a bottleneck when carried out manually. To investigate this problem, the Enabling Technologies Consortium (ETC) conducted a benchmarking study in order to evaluate the capability of existing powder dispensing systems. 

The results of the ETC study highlighted the impressive capability of Quantos for automated powder dispensing technology. Quantos was shown to be: 


  • Accurate dispensing of the seven reference powders selected, in all locations tested, in spite of the challenging range of physical and flow characteristics.
  • Especially impressive at 2 mg, the lowest target dispense weight tested, compared to other systems.


  • Successful powder dispensing was achieved using the standard dosing head and standard parameters.
  • No set-up time or optimization of dosing parameters for different powders was necessary and no expert user is required.
  • Quantos is so easy to use that it can be employed for a range of workflows by everyone in the lab, and not just used as a specialist system. 


  • Consistently accurate and reliable results across all laboratory locations tested – glove box, fume cupboard, purge box and LEV – proving that Quantos can operate safely within any suitable containment system to minimize user exposure to the powders that need to be dispensed.
Automated Powder Dispensing in Phrama and Biotech Graphic

Although the use of liquid handling robots is well-established in pharmaceutical development, the history of automated dispensing of powders has been much more challenging. They are still often considered specialist systems – only suited to a narrow range of powder types or complex to use – requiring a trained expert operator and hours of patient set-up for each different powder type.  

This case study shows that Quantos automated powder dispensing, which has been commercially available since 2008, is suitable
for a wide range of different powder types, even those with extremes of physical characteristics. Accurate results can be achieved without set-up or optimization time for a specific powder type, or training of an expert user. Quantos can be a general walk-up application in the laboratory, easy enough for anyone to use. It also offers significant safety benefits, in terms of minimizing user exposure, and most importantly can help to alleviate the bottlenecks in pharmaceutical R&D screening and formulation workflows.

A benchmarking study by the Enabling Technologies Consortium (ETC) has demonstrated how successfully Quantos powder dispensing technology can handle seven difficult reference powders, in challenging containment system environments, at a range of dispense targets from 2–50 mg. The results were presented at Pittcon in March 2018.

In summary, Quantos is an accurate, easy to use, and safe powder dispensing system – capable of handling a wide range of powder types, and suitable for use within a variety of containment systems – which can alleviate the bottlenecks in many pharmaceutical and biotech laboratory applications.