the single-cell printer

The patented single-cell printing technology, developed by cytena, enables fully automated isolation of single cells into standard microwell plate formats. The instrument uses an inkjet-like principle featuring a disposable, one-way printing cartridge.

The cell sample is pipetted into the cartridge and an external actuator is used to eject droplets out of it. The integrated optical sensor allows for determination of cell number in each droplet. A fast shutter mechanism sorts the droplets containing exactly one single-cell into the substrate. Unwanted droplets are deflected into waste.

single-cell printer

cytena’s single-cell printer is a benchtop size, automated laboratory instrument. Thanks to its intuitive and user-friendly software, it can be easily operated by each lab member without requiring special skills. The instrument setup time is less than 10 minutes. Filling e.g. a 96-well plate with single cells takes a few minutes only.

printing cartridge

cytena's disposable, one-way cartridge takes up to 80 μl of cell sample. The single-packed, sterilized cartridges can simply be loaded by hand-pipetting. Its silicon micro-fluidic chip generates free-flying picoliter droplets acting as transport vessels for the cells. One cartridge can fill many well-plates with single cells. After use, the cartridge is disposed. This innovative approach prevents cross-contamination and saves extensive cleaning steps.


The video shows a short sequence from a live experiment. The SCP instrument is used to print single CHO cells from suspension into a 96-well plate with pre-loaded medium. The video shows the instrument operating over the well plate. The system produces droplets that are all taken off in flight by a shutter system until a single cell is present in the nozzle. This single cell confined in a free-flying picoliter droplet is then deposited into the well. The printhead moves to the next well and repeats this process until a single cell is deposited.