Fully automated coronavirus tests – production on Netstal Elion IMM

The Swiss Roche pharmaceutical group has recently reached a breakthrough in diagnosing the novel coronavirus. A test kit for the fully automatic Cobas 6800 and 8800 diagnosis systems was developed within a very short period of time. Following an expedited process, Roche obtained approval for the new quick test from the US health authority FDA. In Europe, Roche completed a self-certification process on the basis of the data used for the USA.

There are currently around 800 Cobas 6800 and 8800 diagnostic devices installed throughout the globe. These can now be used to test millions of patients per month to determine whether they have caught the virus, or are merely suffering from an ordinary cold or a case of the flu. The incredible performance of the Cobas systems means that testing capacities have been significantly increased. The larger Cobas 8800 can analyze up to 4,128 samples within a 24-hour period. Millions of tests can be made available each month to run on the cobas 6800 and cobas 8800 systems. Roche is now aiming to deliver as many tests as possible and is pushing its production capacity to the limit.

Cleanroom production of disposables on Netstal high-performance machines

Basic tools and plastic consumable materials are used to carry out the diagnostic tests. Specifically, these products include 96-well analysis plates with frames that are stacked in racks, as well as pipettes with filters manufactured in Switzerland by two customers of the KraussMaffei HighPerformance AG. The applications run in cleanrooms (ISO 8 GMP C) on medically equipped Netstal Elion machines. During the production of these materials, which will be required in even greater quantities in the coming months, ensuring maximum precision, perfect material homogeneity, high speeds and ultimate reliability is absolutely essential. KraussMaffei claimes that this demanding requirement profile can be realised with Netstal injection moulding machines. Production on the Netstal Elion is already running at full pace. At the same time, Roche has been ramping up production of Cobas 6800 and 8800 systems at its Rotkreuz plant after orders dramatically increased in recent weeks.

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Photo: Netstal Elion in clean room configuration – The production of SARS-CoV-2 test materials is running at full speed at two KraussMaffei HighPerformance AG customers.