My lab stores biological material (tissue, cells, plasma, serum) in a -130 C, liquid nitrogen freezer. The cryotubes that we use to store a samples are labelled by hand which frequently creates legibility problems.
Its my understanding we can't print out stickers to use as labels because they will degrade in the cold. The solution of putting barcodes on the tubes has been suggested but its undesirable because in addition to the cost and logistic complications; we would have to choose between thawing and refreezing all of our samples to transfer them to new tubes OR live with the nightmare of having both labeling systems in use at the same time; one which humans can read and one which humans cannot.
The ideal situation would be a small, portable machine that can physically label the tubes for us. I'm envisioning: - an adjustable clamp to hold the tube in place; ideally with sensors that would infer the shape, size, and position of the area that can be labelled. - a very-fine tipped pen attached to a motor that would mimic a printer's line-by-line printing action; this would have to take into account the shape and size of the area that can be labelled - rollers in the clamp to adjust the available space for labeling - a screen/keyboard interface that would display how the label will appear
Does anything like this exist?
Do you have any other suggestions about how to deal with the problem of legible hand-writing on cryotubes?
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