(19)
(11)EP 2 969 166 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
14.08.2019 Bulletin 2019/33

(21)Application number: 13821412.7

(22)Date of filing:  27.12.2013
(51)Int. Cl.: 
B01F 9/00  (2006.01)
G01N 35/10  (2006.01)
B01L 9/06  (2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/US2013/078036
(87)International publication number:
WO 2014/163700 (09.10.2014 Gazette  2014/41)

(54)

METHODS AND APPARATUS TO AGITATE A LIQUID

VERFAHREN UND VORRICHTUNG ZUM SCHÜTTELN EINER FLÜSSIGKEIT

PROCÉDÉS ET APPAREIL D'AGITATION D'UN LIQUIDE


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 13.03.2013 US 201313801154

(43)Date of publication of application:
20.01.2016 Bulletin 2016/03

(60)Divisional application:
19177884.4

(73)Proprietor: ABBOTT LABORATORIES
Abbott Park, IL 60064-3500 (US)

(72)Inventor:
  • LUOMA, Robert Paul
    Colleyville, Texas 76034 (US)

(74)Representative: Modiano, Micaela Nadia et al
Modiano & Partners Thierschstrasse 11
80538 München
80538 München (DE)


(56)References cited: : 
EP-A2- 0 435 481
WO-A2-2006/119361
US-A1- 2004 134 750
WO-A1-03/020427
US-A- 6 149 872
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description

    FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE



    [0001] This disclosure relates generally to fluid analyzers and, more particularly, to methods and apparatus to agitate a liquid.

    BACKGROUND



    [0002] Automated analyzers are used to analyze samples including biological material gathered from patients for diagnostic purposes. Generally, analysis of a sample involves reacting the sample with one or more reagents in a liquid container. Some automated analyzers store reagents in containers on a carousel. When a particular reagent is needed, the carousel is rotated to move the container holding the reagent to be adjacent an aspirating/dispensing device. The carousel moves by accelerating and decelerating, which subjects the reagents to rotational forces that could cause microparticles to be suspended in the reagents. However, some of the microparticles in the container.

    [0003] In document WO 03/020427 a reagent cartridge is disclosed having a frame and multiple reagent containers. The frame includes a sidewall with detents that are configured to engage with flanges of the reagent containers to secure the reagent containers to the frame. The reagent cartridge also include a particle vial. The particle vial is inserted into a vial receptacle of the frame.

    BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



    [0004] 

    FIG. 1A illustrates an example cartridge that is holding a plurality of example containers and which is coupled to a portion of an example carousel with a first container in a first position.

    FIG. 1B illustrates the example cartridge of FIG. 1A with the first container in a second position.

    FIG. 2 is a cross-scctional view taken along the A-A line of FIG. 1A.

    FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the example cartridge and containers of FIGS. 1A and 2 decoupled from the carousel and sealed.

    FIG. 4 illustrates a plurality of seats for the example containers of the example cartridge of FIGS. 1A-3.

    FIG. 5 is an enlarged view of the lower portion of the example containers and cartridge of FIG. 2 decoupled from the example carousel.

    FIG. 6 is a perspective, cross-sectional view of a top portion of an example first container and the example cartridge taken along the B-B line of FIG. 3.

    FIG. 7 is an enlarged view of the first container of FIG. 2 in an unlocked position.

    FIG. 8 is a top, cross-sectional view of the example first container taken along the C-C- line of FIG. 1A.

    FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional view of the example first container taken along the D-D line of FIG. 3 and removed from the example cartridge.

    FIG. 10 is a side cross-sectional view of the example first container taken along the B-B line of FIG. 3 and removed from the example cartridge.

    FIG. 11 illustrates an alternative bottom wall of the example first container of FIGS. 6-9.

    FIG. 12 is a top view of the example bottom wall of FIG. 11.

    FIG. 13 is a flowchart representative of an example method disclosed herein.



    [0005] Some of the figures or some of the portions of the figures may not be to scale. Instead, to clarify multiple layers and regions, the thickness of the layers may be enlarged in the drawings. Wherever possible, the same reference numbers will be used throughout the drawing(s) and accompanying written description to refer to the same or like parts. As used in this patent, stating that any part (e.g., a layer, film, area, or plate) is in any way positioned on (e.g., positioned on, located on, disposed on, or formed on, etc.) another part, means that the referenced part is either in contact with the other part, or that the referenced part is above the other part with one or more intermediate part(s) located therebetween. Stating that any part is in contact with another part means that there is no intermediate part between the two parts.

    DETAILED DESCRIPTION



    [0006] Disclosed herein are methods and apparatus to agitate a liquid such as, for example, a liquid reagent in a container of an automatic diagnostic analyzer, which may be, for example, a clinical chemistry analyzer, an immunoassay analyzer, and/or a hematology analyzer. Some reagents used in automatic diagnostic analyzers include a liquid and microparticles, where the microparticles are to be mixed and, in some examples, substantially uniformly dispersed in the liquid. Automatic diagnostic analyzers typically rotate reagent containers or bottles about an axis and the rotation imparts forces on the contents of the containers to mix the contents. Traditional reagent bottles are cylindrical and include internal fins that are used to mix and disperse particles in the liquid of the reagent. An apparatus, according to the invention, has the features set forth in claim 1.

    [0007] The examples disclosed herein use rectangular, rounded rectangular or substantially rectangularly-shaped reagent containers. The examples disclosed herein achieve uniform mixing and dispersion of reagents such as, for example, reagents including microparticles. These disclosed examples provide greater space utilization in diagnostic systems than many known configurations. As a result, using examples described herein, analyzers can have an increased load capacity and/or smaller size, compared to many known systems. In some examples, one of the containers or bottles is about 20 millimeters (mm) deep, about 36 mm wide and about 92 mm high. Other examples may have other dimensions. Another advantage of the disclosed examples is that the example bottles can be created with fabrication techniques such as, for example, blow molding, that reduce cost compared to the fabrication techniques of many known configurations.

    [0008] In the examples disclosed herein, flat opposing sides of the example bottles create a mixing action in a liquid in the bottle in response to acceleration and deceleration of the bottles. An example bottle disclosed herein is rotated about its central longitudinal axis in an oscillating manner. In addition, the bottle is coupled to a cartridge that is rotated about a rotational axis of a carousel. The bottle and a cap include features, as disclosed herein, that provide bearing surfaces for rotation of the bottle. The bottle may be composed of a material or materials to enable one or more surfaces of the bottle to function as a disposable bearing. In some examples, the bottle may be composed of a high density polyethlyene that has excellent wear characteristics and which can withstand, for example, a 30-day on-board use period (e.g., continuous use on a diagnostic analyzer) with negligible wear. The acceleration and deceleration and the rectangular walls impart forces on the liquid in the bottle to promote mixing of the contents of the bottle. A rounded or curved bottom of the interior of the bottle also aids in mixing by creating upward motion on particles that may accumulate at the bottom of the bottle as a result of settling that occurs when the bottle is stationary. More specifically, centrifugal force created by the rotation of the bottle moves such settled particles out from the center of the bottom of the bottle and lifts the particles as the particles follow the contour of the bottle bottom. In some examples, visible confirmation of a uniform mixing is achieved in about one minute of oscillating motion. Other mixing periods and oscillation rates may be used depending on the reagent(s) used, the microparticle(s) used, the diagnostic test(s) to be conducted and/or other factors.

    [0009] Disclosed herein is an example apparatus that includes a base, a first end wall and a second end wall. The example apparatus, which is not according to claim 1, also includes a first container and a second container having a rounded rectangular cross-sectional shape and forming a rounded rectangular block i.e., a bar-shaped object having rounded edges (collectively referred to as a rounded rectangular shape). In addition, the example apparatus includes a first container support to retain the first container The example first container support includes first posts to engage a first rim of the first container to non-rotatably couple the first container to the base. Also, the example apparatus includes a second container support to retain the second container. The example second container support includes a collar to engage a groove of the second container and a ridge to engage a second rim of the second container. The example second container is selectively rotatable relative to the base.

    [0010] In some examples, the example apparatus also includes a third container support to retain a third container. The example third container support includes second posts to engage a third rim of the third container to non-rotatably couple the third container to the base.

    [0011] In some examples, the apparatus is to rotate about a first axis of rotation, and the second container is to rotate relative to the base about a second axis of rotation.

    [0012] In some examples, that are within the scope of the claims, the first container is movable between a locked position in which the first rim of the first container is engaged with the ridge to non-rotatably couple the first container to the base and an unlocked position in which the first container is raised so that the first rim is disengaged from the ridge and the groove is rotatable about the collar.

    [0013] In some examples, the apparatus includes a cover having a first aperture to access the first container and a second aperture to access the second container.

    [0014] Also disclosed herein is an example apparatus that includes a first sidewall and a second sidewall substantially parallel to the first sidewall. The example apparatus also includes a top wall coupled to the first sidewall and the second sidewall. The example apparatus further includes a bottom wall opposite the top wall and coupled to the first sidewall and the second sidewall. The bottom wall has a first side to define a cavity to hold a liquid. The example apparatus also includes a protrusion extending from the first side of the bottom wall toward the top wall.

    [0015] In some examples, the protrusion is disposed on a center of the bottom wall. Also, in some examples, the protrusion is disposed on an axis of rotation of the bottom wall. In addition, in some examples, the protrusion has an apex disposed along an axis of rotation of the bottom wall.

    [0016] In some examples, the example apparatus includes a third sidewall and a fourth sidewall opposite the third sidewall. In this example, the third sidewall and the fourth sidewall are curved.

    [0017] In some examples, the bottom wall has a first radius of curvature, and the protrusion has a second radius of curvature different than the first radius of curvature. In some examples, the first radius of curvature is oriented in a first direction and the second radius of curvature is oriented in a second direction different than the first direction.

    [0018] In some examples, the first sidewall includes a rib extending toward the second sidewall. Also, in some examples, the apparatus includes a post depending from a first side of the bottom wall. In such examples, the protrusion extends from a second side of the bottom wall. In some examples, the post defines a plurality of notches. Also, in some examples, the notches are engageable with a rotation mechanism to rotate the apparatus about an axis of rotation aligned with the concave portion, i.e., coaxial with a central axis of the concave portion.

    [0019] In some examples, the first sidewall includes a first planar portion and the second sidewall includes a second planar portion. In addition, in some examples, the example apparatus includes a third sidewall and a fourth sidewall opposite the third sidewall. In such examples, at least two of the first sidewall, second sidewall, third sidewall or fourth sidewall include a rim to engage a ridge on a carrier to hold the container in a non-rotatable position.

    [0020] Also disclosed herein is an example method that includes lifting a first container from a first position in which a rim of the first container is engaged with a ridge of a carrier and a groove of the first container is engaged with a collar of the carrier to a second position in which the rim is disengaged from the ridge and the groove is engaged with the collar. The example method also includes rotating the first container about an axis of rotation and mixing contents of the first container. In such examples, the contents are mixed by a first substantially flat sidewall of the first container and a bottom protrusion of the first_container.

    [0021] In some examples, the example method includes non-rotatably supporting a second container on the carrier while rotating the first container. In addition, in some examples, the example method includes lowering the first container to the first position to non-rotatably couple the first container to the carrier.

    [0022] Turning now to the figures, FIG. 1A is a perspective view of an example cartridge 100 coupled to a carousel 102 of a diagnostic analyzer. In the illustrated example, the carousel 102 includes a platform 104 on which the cartridge 100 is supported. The cartridge 100 may be transported to and/or placed on the platform 104 manually, by a robotic device, via a conveyer, and/or via any other device and/or technique. During operation of the example carousel 102, the platform 104 and, thus, the cartridge 100 rotates about a first axis of rotation 106 along a substantially circular path 108 defined by the carousel 102. In some examples, multiple cartridges are coupled to the platform 104.

    [0023] In some examples, the platform 104 moves periodically or aperiodically in one direction, e.g., in the direction of path 108. In other examples, the platform 104 moves in a back-and-forth (e.g., oscillating) motion. For example, the platform 104 may repeatedly move a first distance in a first direction (e.g., clockwise) and then a second distance in a second direction (e.g., counterclockwise) opposite the first direction. In some examples, the first direction is greater than the second direction such that the cartridge 100 on the platform 104 revolves about the first axis of rotation 106 via the back-and-forth motion. In some examples, after the platform 104 moves in the first direction, the platform 104 is substantially stationary for a given amount of time before moving in the second direction.

    [0024] In the illustrated example, the cartridge 100 includes a base or carrier 110, a first container 112, a second container 114 and a third container 116. In some examples, there may be other numbers of containers, including, for example, one, two, four, five, six, etc. Also, in some examples, one or more containers may be divided into a multiple compartments to increase the number of compartments on a carrier. Thus, a carrier could include three containers, and one container could have three compartments so that there are a total of five compartments on a carrier. Other combinations are possible. In the illustrated example, the carrier 110 is coupled to the platform 104 to rotate with the platform 104. The example carrier 110 includes a seat 118, a first end wall 120, a second end wall 122 and a cover 124. In the illustrated example, first ends 126, 128, 130 of the first container 112, the second container 114 and the third container 116, respectively, are coupled to the seat 118, and second ends 132, 134, 136 of the first container 112, the second container 114 and the third container 116, respectively, are coupled to the cover 124.

    [0025] In the illustrated example, the first container 112, the second container 114 and the third container 116 are arranged in the carrier 110 radially relative to the circular path 108 defined by carousel 102. In the illustrated example, the first container 112 is disposed adjacent the first end wall 120, the third container 116 is disposed adjacent the second end wall 122, and the second container 114 is disposed between the first container 112 and the second container 114. The example containers 112, 114, 116 have rounded-rectangular shapes. In other examples, the containers 112, 114, 116 have other shapes (e.g., rectangular, square, cylindrical, triangular shapes or other suitable shapes). Each of the containers 112, 114, 116 is to hold a liquid. In some examples, the liquid includes a sample to be analyzed, one or more reagents and/or solid particles (e.g., latex coated paramagnetic particles and/or other microparticles). The example cover 124 includes three apertures 138, 140, 142 to provide access to the containers 112, 114, 116. For example, the liquid may be deposited into and/or removed from the first container 112, the second container 114 and the third container 116 via the respective apertures 138, 140, 142. In some examples, the first container 112, the second container 114 and/or the third container 116 have about the same liquid volume capacity. In other examples, the first container 112, the second container 114 and/or the third container 116 have different liquid volume capacities. The first container 112, the second container 114 and/or the third container 116 may be filled with the same amount or different amounts of liquid.

    [0026] FIG. 1B is a perspective view of the example cartridge 100 as the first container 112 is rotated relative to the carrier 110 about a second axis of rotation 144. In the illustrated example, the first container 112 is coupled to the carrier 110 to enable the first container 112 to rotate with the carrier 110 about the first axis of rotation 106 and relative to the carrier 110 about a second axis of rotation 144. In some examples, the rotation of the first container 112 relative to the carrier 110 corresponds to the movement of the platform 104. In the illustrated example, as the cartridge 100 moves in the first direction with the platform 104, the first container 112 is rotated two revolutions relative to the carrier 110 in the first direction. As the cartridge 100 moves in the second direction with the platform 104, the first container 112 moves one revolution relative to the carrier 110 in the second direction. In this manner, the first container 112 moves in a back-and-forth and/or oscillating motion relative to the carrier 110. The above-noted numbers of revolutions of the first container 112 relative to the carrier 110 in the first direction and the second direction and the manner (e.g., the back-and-forth movement) in which the container moves relative to the carrier 110 are merely examples. In other examples, the first container 112 rotates relative to the carrier 110 in other manners, numbers of revolutions, directions, etc. In some examples, the first container 112 rotates fully about the second axis of rotation 144, and in some examples, the first container 112 oscillates back and forth about the second axis of rotation 144. Also, in some examples, the first container 112 moves about the second axis of rotation 144 while the carousel 102 is stationary relative to the first axis of rotation 106.

    [0027] FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of the example cartridge 100 coupled to the carousel 102 taken along the A-A line of FIG. 1A. The example cartridge 100 is removably coupled to the carousel 102 via the carrier 110. In the illustrated example, the platform 104 includes a first prong 200 and a second prong 202 to engage corresponding structures (e.g., apertures, female connectors, etc.) on the carrier 110 and hold the carrier 110 in place relative to the platform 104. In other examples, the cartridge 100 is removably coupled to the carousel 102 in other manners (e.g., via one or more clamps, clips, bolts, snaps, spring-loaded pins, and/or other mechanical fasteners).

    [0028] In the illustrated example, the first container 112, the second container 114 and the third container 116 each includes a throat 203, 205, 206 (e.g., a tube or pipe in fluid communication with one of the containers 112, 114, 116) in communication with (e.g., extending into) one of the apertures 138, 140, 142 of the cover 124. During operation of the example carousel 102, liquid may be dispensed (e.g., deposited) and/or aspirated (e.g., removed) from the containers 112, 114, 116 via the throats 203, 205, 206 (e.g., via a pipette).

    [0029] In the illustrated example, the second container 114 and the third container 116 are coupled to the carrier 110 such that the second container 114 and the third container 116 are substantially stationary relative to the carrier 110 during operation of the carousel 102 (e.g., as the platform 104 moves the cartridge 100 along the circular path 108).

    [0030] In the illustrated example, the carousel 102 includes a coupling 210 to rotate the first container 112 relative to the carrier 110 about the second axis of rotation 144. In the illustrated example, the seat 118 of the carrier 110 defines a fourth aperture 212 adjacent the first end 126 of the first container 112. In the illustrated example, the coupling 210 extends from beneath the platform 104 in the orientation of FIG. 2 through the fourth aperture 212 to engage the first container 112. As described in greater detail below in conjunction with FIG. 8, the coupling 210 lifts the first container 112 from the seat 118 to enable the first container 112 to rotate relative to the carrier 110 about the second axis of rotation 144.

    [0031] The example coupling 210 of FIG. 2 is a male connector to engage a female connector 214 disposed on the first end 126 of the example first container 112. In other examples, the male connector 210 and the female connector 214 may be reversed. In the illustrated example, the male coupling 210 includes a shaft 216 having protrusions 218, and the example female connector 214 includes a post 220 having notches 222 to receive the protrusions 218 of the shaft 216. In the illustrated example, the coupling 210 is operatively coupled to a rotation mechanism 224 (e.g., a gear). The rotation mechanism 224 is operatively coupled to a drive mechanism (e.g., a motor) (not shown) of the carousel 102.

    [0032] In some examples, as the carousel 102 rotates the platform 104 about the first axis of rotation 106, the rotation mechanism 224 and the coupling 210 are rotated about the second axis of rotation 144 to rotate the first container 112 about the second axis of rotation 144 relative to the carrier 110. Thus, in the illustrated example, the coupling 210 defines the second axis of rotation 144. In the illustrated example, the second axis of rotation 144 is substantially parallel to a longitudinal axis of the first container 112.

    [0033] FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the example cartridge 100 decoupled from the carousel 102 of FIGS. 1A-2. In the illustrated example, the carrier 110 includes a first handle 300 and a second handle 302 to facilitate grasping, holding, lifting, maneuvering and/or transporting of the cartridge 100 by a human (e.g., manually) and/or a robot. In the illustrated example, a first cap 304 is coupled to the first container 112, a second cap 306 is coupled to the second container 114 and a third cap 308 is coupled to the third container 116. The caps 304, 306, 308 substantially cover and/or seal the throats 203, 205, 206 of the containers 112, 114, 116. In some examples, the first container 112, the second container 114 and/or the third container 116 are at least partially filled with liquid before the cartridge 100 is coupled to the carousel 102. Thus, the example caps 304, 306, 308 prevent liquid from flowing out of the containers 112, 114, 116 while the cartridge 100 is being lifted, handled, maneuvered, transported, etc. As described in greater detail below, the example first cap 304 may hold the first container 112 in a locked position.

    [0034] FIG. 4 illustrates the example seat 118 of the carrier 110 of FIGS. 1A-3. In the illustrated example, the seat 118 includes a support surface 400, a first container support 402, a second container support 404 and a third container support 406. The second container 114 and the third container 116 couple to the seat 118 via the second container support 404 and the third container support 406, respectively. In the illustrated example, the second container support 404 and the third container support 406 include first protrusions 408 (e.g., ridges) and second protrusions 410 (e.g., posts). In the illustrated example, when the second container 114 and third container 116 are coupled to the seat 118, the second container 114 and the third container 116 rest on the support surface 400 and engage the first protrusions 408 and the second protrusions 410. The first protrusions 408 and the second protrusions 410 retain the second container 114 and the third container 116 and substantially prevent movement of the second container 114 and third container 116 relative to the carrier 110. In other examples, the carrier 110 employs additional and/or different protrusions, retaining members and/or devices to retain the second container 114 and/or the third container 116.

    [0035] The example first container support 402 includes a third protrusion 412 (e.g., a ridge) to retain the first container 112 and/or substantially prevent the first container 112 from rotating relative to the carrier 110 when the first container 112 is in the locked position (e.g., an non-rotatable position) (FIG. 5). In the illustrated example, the third protrusion 412 is a ridge having a rounded-rectangular cross-sectional shape corresponding to the rounded-rectangular shape of the first container 112. In the illustrated example, the third protrusion 412 is raised to a first height relative to the support surface 400 of the seat 118. The example first container support 402 also includes an annular ridge or collar 414. In the illustrated example, the fourth aperture 212 is defined by the first container support 402 and the collar 414 is disposed on the support surface 400 about the fourth aperture 212. The example collar 414 provides a bearing surface, retains, supports, stabilizes, aligns and/or orients the first container 112 during operation of the example rotation mechanism 224 and the example carousel 102. The example collar 414 is raised to a second height relative to the support surface 400 greater than the first height. As described in greater detail below in conjunction with FIG. 7, when the cartridge 100 is placed onto the platform 104, the coupling 210 of the carousel 102 engages the first container 112 and lifts the first container 112 relative to the support surface 400 of the carrier 110 to an unlocked position in which the first container 112 is free to rotate via the coupling 210.

    [0036] FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of the first end 126 of the example first container 112 when the first container 112 is in the lowered or locked position. In the illustrated example, the cartridge 100 is decoupled from the carousel 102 (e.g., during transport of the cartridge 100 to the platform 104). In the locked position, a first perimeter edge or rim 500 of the first container 112 is supported on the support surface 400 of the carrier 110. The first rim 500 of the first container 112 engages the third protrusion 412 such that the third protrusion 412 substantially prevents the first container 112 from rotating relative to the carrier 110 (e.g., the third protrusion 412 obstructs rotation of the first container 112). Thus, in the illustrated example, the first container 112 is non-rotatably coupled to the carrier 110 when the first container 112 is in the locked position. In some examples, a shape and size of the first rim 500 of the first container 112 substantially conforms to the shape of the third protrusion 412. In the illustrated example, the female connector 214 of the first container 112 is disposed in a space defined by the collar 414 (e.g., the fourth aperture 212), and the collar 414 is received in a groove 501 of the first container 112.

    [0037] The example second container 114 includes a second rim 502 and a second groove 503. In the illustrated example, the second rim 502 engages the first protrusions 408 and the second protrusions 410 of the second container support 404 to couple the second container 114 non-rotatably to the carrier 110. The example third container 116 includes a third rim 504 and a third groove 506. In the illustrated example, the first protrusions 408 and the second protrusions 410 of the third container support 406 are disposed in the third groove 506 and engaged with the third rim 504 of the third container 116 to couple the third container 116 non-rotatably to the carrier 110.

    [0038] FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view along the B-B line of FIG. 3 of the second end 132 of the first container 112 when the first container 112 is in the locked position. The example first cap 304 of FIG. 5 extends into the first aperture 138 of the cover 124 and is coupled to the throat 203 of the first container 112. The example first cap 304 includes a sealing portion 600 to cover 124 and/or seal the throat 203 of the first container 112. In the illustrated example, the first cap 304 includes a handle 602 coupled to the sealing portion 600. The handle 602 facilitates handling of the first cap 304, coupling and decoupling (e.g., removal) of the first cap 304 to the first container 112, etc.

    [0039] When the first container 112 is coupled to the carrier 110 and the first cap 304 is coupled to the first container 112, the first cap 304 engages (e.g., contacts) the cover 124 to substantially hold or retain the first container 112 in the locked position. In the illustrated example, a fourth protrusion 606 extends from the sealing portion of the first cap 304. The example fourth protrusion 606 extends radially from a circumferential surface 608 of the sealing portion 600. The example cover 124 of the example carrier 110 includes a lip 610 extending into a portion of the first aperture 138. In the orientation of FIG. 6, the first cap 304 is in a first position such that the fourth protrusion 606 is disposed underneath the lip 610. Thus, when the first cap 304 is in the first position, the fourth protrusion 606 engages the lip 610 to substantially prevent the first container 112 from moving parallel to the second axis of rotation 144 relative to the carrier 110. For example, the fourth protrusion 606 may contact the lip 610 to prevent the first container 112 from being lifted above the third protrusion 412 (FIG. 5). Thus, in the illustrated example, the first cap 304 holds the first container 112 in engagement with the third protrusion 412, thereby retaining the first container 112 in the locked position.

    [0040] Removal of the example first cap 304 enables the first container 112 to move from the lowered or locked position (FIG. 5) to a raised or unlocked position (FIG. 7) in which the first container 112 may rotate relative to the carrier 110. To remove the example first cap 304 of FIG. 6 from the first container 112, the first cap 304 is rotated until the fourth protrusion 606 is aligned in a notch or space 612 of the first aperture 138 clear of the lip 610 of the cover 124 (e.g., a slot in communication with the first aperture 138). The first cap 304 may then be removed from the first container 112 (e.g., via the handle 602). As described in greater detail below, when the first container 112 is in the unlocked position, the first container 112 can be lifted from the support surface 400 to enable rotation of the first container 112 relative to the carrier 110. The second cap 306 and the third cap 308 operate similarly to secure the second container 114 and the third container 116, respectively and to secure the position of cover 124.

    [0041] FIG. 7 illustrates the example first container 112 in the unlocked position. In the illustrated example, the cartridge 100 is coupled to the carousel 102, and the first cap 304 is removed from the first container 112. The example coupling 210 of the carrier 110 extends through the fourth aperture 212 and moves (e.g., lifts or raises) the first container 112 along the second axis of rotation 144. In the illustrated example, the coupling 210 moves the first container 112 to a third height greater than the first height of the third protrusion 412 (FIGS. 4 and 5) and less than the second height of the collar 414. When the example first container 112 is lifted to the third height, the first rim 500 of the first container 112 disengages the third protrusion 412. As a result, the first container 112 is free to rotate about the second axis of rotation 144 (e.g., the third protrusion 412 does not obstruct rotation of the first container 112). In the illustrated example, the female connector 214 remains in the space defined by the collar 414 when the first container 112 is moved to the unlocked position. In some examples, as the first container 112 rotates relative to the carrier 110, the female connector 214 of the first container 112 and the collar 414 function as a bearing.

    [0042] FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of the example first container 112 of FIGS. 1A-7 taken along the C-C line of FIG. 1A. In the illustrated example, the first container 112 includes a first sidewall 800, a second sidewall 802, a third sidewall 804 and a fourth sidewall 804. The first sidewall 800 is opposite the second sidewall 802. In the illustrated example, the first sidewall 800 includes a first rib 808 extending toward the second sidewall 802. The example second sidewall 802 includes a second rib 810 extending toward the first sidewall 800. The example first rib 808 and the example second rib 810 extend along the first sidewall 800 and the second sidewall 802, respectively, substantially parallel to the second axis of rotation 144. In the illustrated example, the first rib 808 and the second rib 810 are each disposed approximately equidistant from the third sidewall 804 and the fourth sidewall 806. The first rib 808 and the second rib 810 illustrated in FIG. 8 are merely examples. Thus, the first rib 808 and/or the second rib 810 may have other orientations, shapes, sizes, etc. in other examples. In some examples, the first sidewall 800 and/or the second sidewall 802 may include other numbers of ribs (e.g., 0, 2, 3, etc.). In addition, in some examples, one or more ribs may extend only partially down a wall, in an angled orientation relative to the second axis of rotation 144 and/or closer to one of the end walls 804, 806 than the other.

    [0043] The example first container 112 has a rounded-rectangular shape. In the illustrated example, the first sidewall 800 is substantially parallel to the second sidewall 802. The example first sidewall 800 includes a first flat or planar portion 812, and the example second sidewall 802 includes a second flat or planar portion 814 parallel to the first planar portion 812. In the illustrated example, the third sidewall 804 is opposite the fourth sidewall 806 and the third sidewall 804 and the fourth sidewall 806 are curved. In the illustrated example, the third sidewall 804 and the fourth sidewall 806 curve outwardly relative to the longitudinal axis of the first container 112. In the illustrated example, a first distance between the first sidewall 800 and the second sidewall 802 is less than a second distance between the third sidewall 804 and the fourth sidewall 806. In other examples, the first distance is greater than or equal to the second distance. In some examples, the first container 112 has a depth (e.g., a distance from an outermost point of the first sidewall 800 to an outermost point on the second sidewall 802) of about 20 millimeters and a width (e.g., a distance from an outermost point on the third sidewall 804 to an outmost point on the fourth sidewall 806) of about 36 millimeters. Other examples have other dimensions. In other examples, the first container 112 has other shapes such as, for example, rectangular, square, cylindrical, triangular and/or other suitable shape(s) or combination of shape(s).

    [0044] FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional view of the example first container 112 of FIGS. 1A-8 taken along the D-D line of FIG. 3 and removed from the cartridge 100. FIG. 10 is a cross-sectional view of the example first container 112 taken along the B-B line of FIG. 3, similar to FIG. 6, but showing the full length of the first container 112. Referring to FIG. 9, the example first container 112 includes a bottom wall 900 and a top wall 902 opposite the bottom wall 900. The example top wall 902 is coupled to the first sidewall 800, the second sidewall 802, the third sidewall 804 and the fourth sidewall 806. In the illustrated example, the top wall 902 is substantially planar. The throat 203 extends upwardly from the example top wall 902 in the orientation of FIG. 9. In the illustrated example, a height of the first container 112 excluding the throat 203 and the first cap 304 (e.g., from an outermost point of the first rim 500 to an outmost point on the top wall 902) is about 94 millimeters. Other examples may include heights.

    [0045] The example bottom wall 900 of FIG. 9 is coupled to the first sidewall 800, the second sidewall 802, the third sidewall 804 and the fourth sidewall 806. In the illustrated example, the bottom wall 900 is bowed or curved away from the top wall 902 about a first axis passing through the first sidewall 800 and the second sidewall 802. Thus, the bottom wall 900 is convex when viewed from outside of the container 112 (e.g., from the bottom exterior of the container 112) or concave when viewed from inside of the container 112. The example bottom wall 900 is also bowed or curved away from the top wall 902 about a second axis passing through the third sidewall 804 and the fourth sidewall 806. Thus, the example bottom wall 900 forms a bowl-like structure.

    [0046] In some examples, the first container 112 is at least partially filled with a reagent including solid particles (e.g., latex coated paramagnetic particles). Some of the particles in the liquid may settle and rest on the bottom wall 900 (e.g., during transport of the cartridge 100 to the carousel 102). During operation of the carousel 102, the first container 112 moves about the first axis of rotation 106 (e.g., in the back-and-forth motion) and the second axis of rotation 144 to agitate the liquid and/or disperse the particles in the liquid. For example, when the first container 112 is moved via the carousel 102, curvatures of the bottom wall 900 direct the liquid and/or the particles on or near the bottom wall 900 to move (e.g., flow) toward the top wall 902, thereby agitating the liquid and dispersing the particles. Further, movement of the sidewalls 800, 802, 804, 806, the first rib 808 and/or the second rib 810 with and/or relative to the liquid agitates the liquid and disperses the particles. In some examples, the first container 112 agitates the liquid such that the particles are substantially uniformly dispersed within the liquid during operation of the carousel 102.

    [0047] FIGS. 11-12 illustrate the first container 112 having an alternative bottom wall 1100 disclosed herein. FIG. 11 is a perspective, cross-sectional view of a lower portion of the first container 112 showing the example bottom wall 1100. In the illustrated example, the sidewalls 800, 802, 804, 806, the top wall 902 and the bottom wall 1100 define a cavity 1101 to receive and hold liquid. In the illustrated example, the bottom wall 1100 includes a basin or concave portion 1102 (when viewed from inside the container 112) extending from first sidewall 800 to the second sidewall 802 and from the third sidewall 804 to the fourth sidewall 806. The example concave portion 1102 bows outward away from the top wall 902 about a first axis 1104 and a second axis 1106 (e.g., axes perpendicular to each other and to the second axis of rotation 144). In some examples, the concave portion 1102 is a bowl-like or semispherical structure.

    [0048] The example bottom wall 1100 also includes a bulge or protrusion 1108 extending from a first side 1110 of the bottom wall 1100 toward the top wall 902 (e.g., extending into the cavity 1101). In the illustrated example, the post 220 of the female connector 214 is aligned with the protrusion 1108 and depends from a second side 1112 of the bottom wall 1100 opposite the first side 1110. In the illustrated example, the protrusion 1108 is a convexity (e.g., a rounded or curved protrusion or bulge) having a crest or apex 1114. Thus, the example bottom wall 1100 of FIG. 11 includes the concave portion 1102 and a convex portion (e.g., the example protrusion 1108). In other examples, the protrusion 1108 has other shapes (e.g., cone-shaped, pyramid -shaped, etc.). The example protrusion 1108 of FIG. 12 has a first radius of curvature and the example concave portion 1102 has a second radius of curvature. In the illustrated example, the first radius of curvature is less than the second radius of curvature. Also, in the illustrated example, the first radius of curvature and the second radius of curvature of disposed in opposite directions.

    [0049] FIG. 12 is a top view of the example bottom wall 1100 of FIG. 11. In the illustrated example, the protrusion 1108 has a substantially circular base 1200 disposed on a center 1202 of the bottom wall 1100. In the illustrated example, the center 1202 of the bottom wall 1100 is along the second axis of rotation 144. Thus, when the example first container 112 rotates about the second axis of rotation 144, the bottom wall 1100 rotates about the second axis of rotation 144. The apex 1114 of the example protrusion 1108 is also disposed on the center 1202 of the bottom wall 1100 and, thus, the apex 1114 is disposed along the second axis of rotation 144 in the illustrated example. As a result, the protrusion 1108 slopes downward from the second axis of rotation 144.

    [0050] When the example first container 112 rotates about the second axis of rotation 144, particles disposed in a liquid in the first container 112 along the second axis of rotation 144 may experience little or no centrifugal force. As a result, these particles may settle onto or near the protrusion 1108 of the bottom wall 1100. In the illustrated example, when the particles settle onto the protrusion 1108 of the bottom wall 1100, the particles slide and/or roll on the protrusion 1108 away from the apex 1114. As a result, the particles move toward the sidewalls 800, 802, 804, 806 where centrifugal force facilitates uniform dispersion of the particles in the liquid.

    [0051] A flowchart representative of an example method is shown in FIG. 13. Although the example process is described with reference to the flowchart illustrated in FIG. 13, many other methods may alternatively be used. For example, the order of execution of the blocks may be changed, and/or some of the blocks described may be changed, eliminated, or combined.

    [0052] The method of FIG. 13 begins at block 1302 by lowering the first container 112 into a first position to couple the first container 112 non-rotatably to the carrier 110. For example, the first container 112 of FIGS. 1A-12 may be lowered onto the first container support 402 of the seat 118 of the carrier 110. In some such examples, first container 112 engages a first portion of the carrier 110 and a second portion of the carrier 110 in the first position. For example, the first rim 500 engages the third protrusion 412, and the female connector 214 engages the collar 414. In some examples, the first cap 304 is coupled to the first container 112 to hold or retain the first container 112 in the first position.

    [0053] At block 1304, the second container 114 is non-rotatably supported on the carrier 110. In some examples, the second container 114 is coupled non-rotatably to the second container support 404 via the first protrusions 408 and the second protrusions 410 of the second container support 404. In some examples, the third container 116 is also non-rotatably supported on the carrier 110 via the first protrusions 408 and the second protrusions 410 of the third container support 406.

    [0054] At block 1306, the first container 112 is lifted from the first position to a second position in which the first container 112 is disengaged from the first portion of the carrier 110 while engagement with the second portion of the carrier 110 is maintained. For example, the first container 112 may be lifted to the third height from the supporting surface by the example coupling 210 of the carousel 102. When the cartridge 100 is coupled to the carousel 102, the coupling 210 extends into the fourth aperture 212 and lifts the first container 112 to the third height. When the first container 112 is lifted to the third height, the first rim 500 disengages the third protrusion 412 and the female connector 214 is disposed in the space defined by the collar 414.

    [0055] At block 1308, the first container 112 is rotated (e.g., oscillated and/or spun) about an axis of rotation. In some examples, the first container 112 is rotated about the first axis of rotation 106 with the platform 104 and about the second axis of rotation 144 via the coupling 210. At block 1310, contents of the first container 112 are mixed. For example, liquid and/or particles in the container are agitated by the planar portions of the first side-wall 800 and/or the second sidewall 802. In some examples, the contents of the first container 112 are also mixed by a bottom protrusion of the container such as, for example, the protrusion 1108 of the bottom wall 1100 of FIGS. 11 and 12. In some examples, the contents of the first container 112 are mixed such that the particles are substantially uniformly dispersed in the liquid in the first container 112.

    [0056] Although certain example methods, apparatus and articles of manufacture have been described herein, the scope of coverage of this patent is not limited thereto. On the contrary, this patent covers all methods, apparatus and articles of manufacture fairly falling within the scope of the claims of this patent.


    Claims

    1. An apparatus (100) comprising:

    a base (110);

    a first container (112);

    a second container (114);

    a first -container support (402) to retain the first -container (112), the first container support (402) comprising a collar (414) to engage a groove (501) of the first container (112) and a ridge (412) to engage a first rim (500) of the first container (112), the first container (112) being movable between a locked position in which the first rim (500) of the first container (112) engages the ridge (412) to non-rotatably couple the first container (112) to the base (110) and an unlocked position in which the first container (112) is raised so that the first rim (500) disengages from the ridge (412) and the groove (501) is rotatable about the collar (414); and

    a second container support (404) to retain the second container (114), the second container support (404) comprising first posts (410) to engage a second rim (502) of the second container (114) to non-rotatably couple the second container (114) to the base (110).


     
    2. The apparatus (100) of claim 1 further comprising a third container support (406) to retain a third container (116), the third container support (406) comprising second posts (410) to engage a third rim (504) of the third container (116) to non-rotatably couple the third container (116) to the base (110).
     
    3. The apparatus (100) of claim 1, wherein the apparatus (100) is to rotate about a first axis of rotation (106), and the first container (112) is to rotate relative to the base (110) about a second axis of rotation (144).
     
    4. The apparatus (100) of claim 1 further comprising a cover (124) having a first aperture (138) to access the first container (112) and a second aperture (140) to access the second container (114).
     
    5. The apparatus (100) of claim 1, wherein the first container (112) includes:

    a first sidewall (800);

    a second sidewall (802) parallel to the first sidewall (800);

    a top wall (902) coupled to the first sidewall (800) and the second sidewall (802);

    a bottom wall (1100) opposite the top wall (902) and coupled to the first sidewall (800) and the second sidewall (802), the bottom wall (1100) having a first side (1110) to define a cavity (1101) to hold a liquid; and

    a protrusion (1108) extending from the first side (1110) of the bottom wall (1100) toward the top wall (902).


     
    6. The apparatus (100) of claim 5, wherein at least one of:

    the protrusion (1108) is disposed on a center (1202) of the bottom wall (1100);

    the protrusion (1108) is disposed on an axis of rotation (144) of the bottom wall (1100);

    the protrusion (1108) has an apex (1114) disposed along an axis of rotation (144) of the bottom wall (1100); or

    the first sidewall (800) includes a rib (808) extending toward the second sidewall (802).


     
    7. The apparatus (100) of claim 5, wherein the first container (112) further includes:

    a third sidewall (804); and

    a fourth sidewall (806) opposite the third sidewall (804), the third sidewall (804) and the fourth sidewall (806) being curved, wherein the first sidewall (800) includes a first planar portion (812) and the second sidewall (802) includes a second planar portion (814).


     
    8. The apparatus (100) of claim 5, wherein the bottom wall (1100) has a first radius of curvature, and the protrusion (1108) has a second radius of curvature different than the first radius of curvature, and wherein the first radius of curvature is oriented in a first direction and the second radius of curvature is oriented in a second direction different than the first direction.
     
    9. The apparatus (100) of claim 5, wherein the first container (112) further includes a third post (220) depending from a second side (1112) of the bottom wall (1100), wherein the third post (220) defines notches (222), and wherein the notches (222) are engageable with a rotation mechanism (224) to rotate the first container (112) about an axis of rotation (144) aligned with the protrusion (1108).
     
    10. The apparatus (100) of claim 5, wherein the first container (112) further includes:

    a third sidewall (804); and

    a fourth sidewall (806) opposite the third sidewall (804), at least two of the first sidewall (800), second sidewall (802), third sidewall (804) or fourth sidewall (806) defining the first rim (500).


     
    11. A method comprising:

    lifting a first container (112) from a first position in which a rim (500) of the first container (112) is engaged with a ridge (412) of a carrier (110) and a groove (501) of the first container (112) is engaged with a collar (414) of the carrier (110) to a second position in which the rim (500) is disengaged from the ridge (412) and the groove (501) is engaged with the collar (414);

    rotating the first container (112) about an axis of rotation (144); and

    mixing contents of the first container (112), the contents mixed by a first flat sidewall (800) of the first container (112) and a bottom protrusion (1108) of the first container (112).


     
    12. The method of claim 11 further comprising non-rotatably supporting a second container (114) on the carrier (110) while rotating the first container (112).
     
    13. The method of claim 11 further comprising lowering the first container (112) to the first position to non-rotatably couple the first container (112) to the carrier (100).
     
    14. The method of claim 11 further comprising removing a cap (304) from the first container (112) to enable the first container (112) to move from the first position to the second position.
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Eine Vorrichtung (100), die Folgendes umfasst:

    eine Basis (110);

    einen ersten Behälter (112);

    einen zweiten Behälter (114);

    eine erste Behälterhalterung (402) zum Halten des ersten Behälters (112), wobei die erste Behälterhalterung (402) einen Ring (414) umfasst, um in eine Nut (501) des ersten Behälters (112) einzugreifen, und einen Grat (412), um in Eingriff mit einem ersten Rand (500) des ersten Behälters (112) zu stehen; wobei der erste Behälter (112) beweglich ist zwischen einer blockierten Position, in welcher der erste Rand (500) des ersten Behälters (112) in Eingriff mit dem Grat (412) steht, um den ersten Behälter (112) nicht drehbar mit der Basis (110) zu koppeln, und einer nicht blockierten Position, in welcher der erste Behälter (112) angehoben ist, so dass der erste Rand (500) vom Grat (412) getrennt ist und die Nut (501) um den Ring (414) drehbar ist; und

    eine zweite Behälterhalterung (404) zum Halten des zweiten Behälters (114), wobei die zweite Behälterhalterung (404) erste Vorsprünge (410) umfasst, um in einen zweiten Rand (502) des zweiten Behälters (114) einzugreifen, um den zweiten Behälter (114) nicht drehbar mit der Basis (110) zu koppeln.


     
    2. Die Vorrichtung (100) gemäß Anspruch 1, die weiter eine dritte Behälterhalterung (406) zum Halten eines dritten Behälters (116) umfasst, wobei die dritte Behälterhalterung (406) zweite Vorsprünge (410) umfasst, um in einen dritten Rand (504) des dritten Behälters (116) einzugreifen, um den dritten Behälter (116) nicht drehbar mit der Basis (110) zu koppeln.
     
    3. Die Vorrichtung (100) gemäß Anspruch 1, wobei die Vorrichtung (100) sich um eine erste Drehachse (106) drehen soll und der erste Behälter (112) sich relativ zur Basis (110) um eine zweite Drehachse (144) drehen soll.
     
    4. Die Vorrichtung (100) gemäß Anspruch 1, die weiter eine Abdeckung (124) umfasst, die eine erste Öffnung (138) für den Zugriff auf den ersten Behälter (112) und eine zweite Öffnung (140) für den Zugriff auf den zweiten Behälter (114) hat.
     
    5. Die Vorrichtung (100) gemäß Anspruch 1, wobei der erste Behälter (112) Folgendes einschließt:

    eine erste Seitenwand (800);

    eine zweite Seitenwand (802), parallel zu der ersten Seitenwand (800);

    eine obere Wand (902), gekoppelt mit der ersten Seitenwand (800) und mit der zweiten Seitenwand (802);

    eine Bodenwand (1100) gegenüber der oberen Wand (902) und gekoppelt mit der ersten Seitenwand (800) und mit der zweiten Seitenwand (802), wobei die Bodenwand (1100) eine erste Seite (1110) zum Bestimmen eines Hohlraums (1101) zum Halten einer Flüssigkeit hat; und

    einen Vorsprung (1108), der sich von der ersten Seite (1110) der Bodenwand (1100) zur oberen Wand (902) hin erstreckt.


     
    6. Die Vorrichtung (100) gemäß Anspruch 5, wobei mindestens eines von Folgendem zutrifft:

    der Vorsprung (1108) ist auf einer Mitte (1202) der Bodenwand (1100) angeordnet;

    der Vorsprung (1108) ist auf einer Drehachse (144) der Bodenwand (1100) angeordnet;

    der Vorsprung (1108) hat einen Scheitelpunkt (1114), der entlang einer Drehachse (144) der Bodenwand (1100) angeordnet ist; oder

    die erste Seitenwand (800) schließt eine Rippe (808) ein, die sich zur zweiten Seitenwand (802) erstreckt.


     
    7. Die Vorrichtung (100) gemäß Anspruch 5, wobei der erste Behälter (112) weiter Folgendes einschließt:

    eine dritte Seitenwand (804); und

    eine vierte Seitenwand (806) gegenüber der dritten Seitenwand (804), wobei die dritte Seitenwand (804) und die vierte Seitenwand (806) gewölbt sind, wobei die erste Seitenwand (800) einen ersten ebenen Abschnitt (812) einschließt und die zweite Seitenwand (802) einen zweiten ebenen Abschnitt (814) einschließt.


     
    8. Die Vorrichtung (100) gemäß Anspruch 5, wobei die Bodenwand (1100) einen ersten Krümmungsradius hat und der Vorsprung (1108) einen zweiten Krümmungsradius hat, der sich vom ersten Krümmungsradius unterscheidet; und wobei der erste Krümmungsradius in eine erste Richtung ausgerichtet ist und der zweite Krümmungsradius in eine zweite Richtung ausgerichtet ist, die sich von der ersten Richtung unterscheidet.
     
    9. Die Vorrichtung (100) gemäß Anspruch 5, wobei der erste Behälter (112) weiter einen dritten Vorsprung (220) einschließt, der von einer zweiten Seite (1112) der Bodenwand (1100) herabhängt, wobei der dritte Vorsprung (220) Kerben (222) bestimmt und wobei die Kerben (222) mit einem Drehmechanismus (224) in Eingriff gebracht werden können, um den ersten Behälter (112) um eine Drehachse (144) zu drehen, die mit dem Vorsprung (1108) ausgerichtet ist.
     
    10. Die Vorrichtung (100) gemäß Anspruch 5, wobei der erste Behälter (112) weiter Folgendes einschließt:

    eine dritte Seitenwand (804); und

    eine vierte Seitenwand (806) gegenüber der dritten Seitenwand (804), wobei mindestens zwei der ersten Seitenwand (800), der zweiten Seitenwand (802), der dritten Seitenwand (804) oder der vierten Seitenwand (806) den ersten Rand (500) bestimmen.


     
    11. Ein Verfahren, das Folgendes umfasst:

    das Anheben eines ersten Behälters (112) aus einer ersten Position, in der ein Rand (500) des ersten Behälters (112) mit einem Grat (412) einer Basis (110) in Eingriff steht und eine Nut (501) des ersten Behälters (112) mit einem Ring (414) der Basis (110) in Eingriff steht, in eine zweite Position, in welcher der Rand (500) vom Grat (412) getrennt ist und die Nut (501) mit dem Ring (414) in Eingriff steht;

    das Drehen des ersten Behälters (112) um eine Drehachse (144) und

    das Mischen der Inhalte des ersten Behälters (112), wobei die Inhalte von einer ersten flachen Seitenwand (800) des ersten Behälters (112) und einem unteren Vorsprung (1108) des ersten Behälters (112) gemischt werden.


     
    12. Das Verfahren gemäß Anspruch 11, das weiter das nicht drehbare Tragen eines zweiten Behälters (114) auf der Basis (110) bei gleichzeitigem Drehen des ersten Behälters (112) umfasst.
     
    13. Das Verfahren gemäß Anspruch 11, das weiter das Absenken des ersten Behälters (112) in die erste Position, um den ersten Behälter (112) nicht drehbar mit dem Träger (100) zu koppeln, umfasst.
     
    14. Das Verfahren gemäß Anspruch 11, das weiter das Abnehmen einer Kappe (304) vom ersten Behälter (112), um es dem ersten Behälter (112) zu ermöglichen, sich aus der ersten Position in die zweite Position zu bewegen, umfasst.
     


    Revendications

    1. Appareil (100) comprenant :

    une base (110) ;

    un premier récipient (112) ;

    un second récipient (114) ;

    un support de premier récipient (402) pour maintenir le premier récipient (112), le support de premier récipient (402) comprenant un collier (414) pour venir en prise avec une rainure (501) du premier récipient (112) et une arête (412) pour venir en prise avec un premier rebord (500) du premier récipient (112), le premier récipient (112) étant mobile entre une position bloquée dans laquelle le premier rebord (500) du premier récipient (112) est en prise avec l'arête (412) pour coupler de manière non rotative le premier récipient (112) à la base (110) et une position non bloquée dans laquelle le premier récipient (112) est relevé de sorte que le premier rebord (500) est dégagé de l'arête (412) et la rainure (501) peut tourner autour du collier (414) ; et

    un support de second récipient (404) pour maintenir le second récipient (114), le support de second récipient (404) comprenant des premiers montants (410) pour venir en prise avec un second rebord (502) du second récipient (114) pour coupler de manière non rotative le second récipient (114) à la base (110).


     
    2. Appareil (100) selon la revendication 1 comprenant en outre un support de troisième récipient (406) pour maintenir un troisième récipient (116), le support de troisième récipient (406) comprenant des seconds montants (410) pour venir en prise avec un troisième rebord (504) du troisième récipient (116) pour coupler de manière non rotative le troisième récipient (116) à la base (110).
     
    3. Appareil (100) selon la revendication 1 où l'appareil (100) est destiné à tourner autour d'un premier axe de rotation (106), et le premier récipient (112) est destiné à tourner par rapport à la base (110) autour d'un second axe de rotation (144).
     
    4. Appareil (100) selon la revendication 1 comprenant en outre un couvercle (124) ayant une première ouverture (138) pour l'accès au premier récipient (112) et une seconde ouverture (140) pour l'accès au second récipient (114).
     
    5. Appareil (100) selon la revendication 1, où le premier récipient (112) inclut :

    une première paroi latérale (800) ;

    une seconde paroi latérale (802) parallèle à la première paroi latérale (800) ;

    une paroi supérieure (902) couplée à la première paroi latérale (800) et à la seconde paroi latérale (802) ;

    une paroi inférieure (1100) opposée à la paroi supérieure (902) et couplée à la première paroi latérale (800) et à la seconde paroi latérale (802), la paroi inférieure (1100) ayant un premier côté (1110) pour définir une cavité (1101) pour contenir un liquide ; et

    une protubérance (1108) s'étendant depuis le premier côté (1110) de la paroi inférieure (1100) en direction de la paroi supérieure (902).


     
    6. Appareil (100) selon la revendication 5, où au moins l'une de :

    la protubérance (1108) est disposée sur un centre (1202) de la paroi inférieure (1100) ;

    la protubérance (1108) est disposée sur un axe de rotation (144) de la paroi inférieure (1100) ;

    la protubérance (1108) a un sommet (1114) disposé le long d'un axe de rotation (144) de la paroi inférieure (1100) ; ou

    la première paroi latérale (800) inclut une nervure (808) s'étendant en direction de la seconde paroi latérale (802).


     
    7. Appareil (100) selon la revendication 5, où le premier récipient (112) inclut en outre :

    une troisième paroi latérale (804) ; et

    une quatrième paroi latérale (806) opposée à la troisième paroi latérale (804), la troisième paroi latérale (804) et la quatrième paroi latérale (806) étant incurvées, où la première paroi latérale (800) inclut une première partie plane (812) et la seconde paroi latérale (802) inclut une seconde partie plane (814).


     
    8. Appareil (100) selon la revendication 5, où la paroi inférieure (1100) a un premier rayon de courbure, et la protubérance (1108) a un second rayon de courbure différent du premier rayon de courbure, et où le premier rayon de courbure est orienté dans une première direction et le second rayon de courbure est orienté dans une seconde direction différente de la première direction.
     
    9. Appareil (100) selon la revendication 5, où le premier récipient (112) inclut en outre un troisième montant (220) issu d'un second côté (1112) de la paroi inférieure (1100), où le troisième montant (220) définit des entailles (222), et où les entailles (222) peuvent venir en prise avec un mécanisme de rotation (224) pour faire tourner le premier récipient (112) autour d'un axe de rotation (144) aligné avec la protubérance (1108).
     
    10. Appareil (100) selon la revendication 5, où le premier récipient (112) inclut en outre :

    une troisième paroi latérale (804) ; et

    une quatrième paroi latérale (806) opposée à la troisième paroi latérale (804), au moins deux de la première paroi latérale (800), de la seconde paroi latérale (802), de la troisième paroi latérale (804) ou de la quatrième paroi latérale (806) définissant le premier rebord (500).


     
    11. Procédé comprenant :

    le soulèvement d'un premier récipient (112) depuis une première position dans laquelle un rebord (500) du premier récipient (112) est en prise avec une arête (412) d'un support (110) et une rainure (501) du premier récipient (112) est en prise avec un collier (414) du support (110) jusqu'à une seconde position dans laquelle le rebord (500) est dégagé de l'arête (412) et la rainure (501) est en prise avec le collier (414) ;

    la rotation du premier récipient (112) autour d'un axe de rotation (144) ; et

    le mélange du contenu du premier récipient (112), le contenu mélangé par une première paroi latérale plate (800) du premier récipient (112) et une protubérance inférieure (1108) du premier récipient (112).


     
    12. Procédé selon la revendication 11 comprenant en outre le soutien de manière non rotative d'un second récipient (114) sur le support (110) tandis que le premier récipient (112) est amené à tourner.
     
    13. Procédé selon la revendication 11 comprenant en outre l'abaissement du premier récipient (112) jusque dans la première position pour coupler de manière non rotative le premier récipient (112) au support (100).
     
    14. Procédé selon la revendication 11 comprenant en outre le retrait d'un couvercle (304) du premier récipient (112) pour permettre au premier récipient (112) de se déplacer de la première position dans la seconde position.
     




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    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



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    Patent documents cited in the description