Team:PuiChing Macau/Contribution

Determining the E.coli growth curve, comparing them when they are grown in normal LB broth and LB broth that have starch added(food waste) and proving its suitability to grow in these environments made the shaking process with a shaking incubator a paramount step. In order to increase the effectiveness of this process, the stabilization of multiple Erlenmeyer flasks has become a necessity. In the best situation, all the flasks that need to be shaken can be on the shaking table at the same time and have the same effect as it does when the process is done separately. Although there are flask fixers coming with the machine, our flasks come in different sizes that only some fit in.

At first, we just tried to wrap the containers with tissue to prevent them from breaking and it turned out that it does not work at all because they still crash into each other and spill the culture media out. This led us to brainstorm for new ideas to protect both the flasks and liquids inside and after a while, we came up with the idea of 3D modeling.

We referenced the original fixers and built 3D models of various scales using SketchUp and Maya, and 3D-printed them. This made the shaking process more productive and flexible since we can put whatever we have into the incubator and still have a suitable fixer for it. However, the self-made fixers are not the keys to every problem in the process. Even with these, the containers still collide with each other, fall off and spill out the culture media. This was out of our expectations, as when the last time we saw the wet glass fragments, we thought the reason that had induced it was the lack of fixers and we promised our mentor that this would never happen again once we made our own design. We spent a few days trying to figure out the problem and the result was that this design was not of enough height to prevent them from falling.

Hence, we modified the design from an ashtray-like one into one similar to an alcohol lamp tripod whereas the legs, longer than our original design, will be plugged in the shaking table where we drilled holes in and the ring above will trap the body of the container. As both the bottom and the top of the fixer and container are fixed, it would provide more stability to hold the containers.

Of course, every product has space for improvement. To test the design’s ultimate ability, we printed them with 2 plastic of different hardness. After tons of experiments, when the design’s legs are made of harder plastic and the ring is made of a softer and more elastic one, it provides the best situation we had ever dreamt of. It is obviously less shaky, and without the glass crashing sounds, it is carefree.

To say, the whole design not only solves all the problems but also smoothens and accelerates our process. Furthermore, it taught us to always try to improve. No matter it is the product, or ourselves.

For further information, please consider visiting the 'Results' on our website.