(19)
(11)EP 3 772 374 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
10.02.2021 Bulletin 2021/06

(21)Application number: 19190337.6

(22)Date of filing:  06.08.2019
(51)Int. Cl.: 
B01L 3/00  (2006.01)
B65D 41/50  (2006.01)
B01L 9/06  (2006.01)
(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
Designated Extension States:
BA ME
Designated Validation States:
KH MA MD TN

(71)Applicant: Celldynamics I.s.r.l.
40026 Imola (BO) (IT)

(72)Inventors:
  • GAZZOLA, Daniele
    40026 Imola (BO) (IT)
  • D'ALPAOS, Riccardo
    40026 Imola (BO) (IT)
  • BONETTI, Simone
    40026 Imola (BO) (IT)
  • MUSMECI, Francesco
    40026 Imola (BO) (IT)

(74)Representative: Weickmann & Weickmann PartmbB 
Postfach 860 820
81635 München
81635 München (DE)

  


(54)STERILE VIAL CONNECTING


(57) A cap (10) for closing a laboratory fluid container (12), preferably a sterile laboratory fluid container (12), is provided. The cap (10) comprises a lid (14) having at least one lid opening (22); a septum (16) being arranged adjacent to said lid opening (22) and covering said lid opening (22), and a fluid channel (18) having an upper opening (24) in fluid connection with the septum (16), wherein the fluid channel (18) has a tube portion (28) adapted to extend into a laboratory fluid container (12) in a state in which the laboratory fluid container (12) is connected to the cap (10). Further, a kit comprising a cap (10) and at least two adapters (42), as well as a docking device (60) for receiving a cap (10) are provided.




Description


[0001] The present invention relates to a cap for closing a laboratory fluid container, a kit comprising a cap, and a docking device for receiving a cap.

[0002] Many processes in the laboratory field, such as a cell-sorting process and in-vitro diagnostics, require a sterile surrounding. Therefore, the used materials have to be sterilized before they can be used. To sterilize technical equipment and fluids autoclave methods can be used which are well-known in the state of the art.

[0003] Sterile fluids are usually stored in containers, such as tubes, bottles of flaks, being equipped with a lid having a portion being sealed with a septum. To dispense fluids out of such containers, a needle can pierce the septum, immerse into the container and aspirate the fluid out of the container. In order to make sure that the needle aspirates the fluid and not just gas above the fluid, the type of container and the filling level must be known. Further, a needle must be chosen which is long enough to aspirate the fluid at all filling levels, especially at a low filling level. Such a needle is expensive and requires a complex treatment to clean it. To avoid any crash of the needle at the bottom of the container, usually the needle is immersed only to a certain level into the container. Further, the dispensing is stopped when the fluid level is above said certain fluid level so that there is no risk for an aspiration of gas. This has the drawback that the dead volume remaining in the container is relatively high, which is a huge drawback when the used fluids are rarely available or expensive.

[0004] To address the latter of the above problems, it could be conceived to use standard containers having a predefined size and a tapered bottom. However, there is still the risk that there is a crash of the needle in case that the positioning of the needle is not exact in the center of the container. An accurate positioning of the needle may reduce said risk but positioning systems with a high accuracy are very expensive.

[0005] In view of the above circumstances, it is an object of the present invention to provide a cap for closing a laboratory fluid container, a kit comprising a cap, and a docking device for receiving a cap, with which the drawbacks of the prior art can be remedied.

[0006] This object is achieved by a cap for closing a laboratory fluid container, preferably a sterile laboratory fluid container, comprising a lid having at least one lid opening, and a septum being arranged adjacent to said lid opening and covering said lid opening. The cap further comprises a fluid channel having an upper opening in fluid connection with the septum, wherein the fluid channel has a tube portion adapted to extend into a laboratory fluid container in a state in which a laboratory fluid container is connected to the cap.

[0007] The cap has the advantage that there is no need for a needle for aspirating a fluid out of a container to immerse more than a few millimeters into a laboratory fluid container. According to a preferred procedure, a needle can be inserted through the at least one lid opening and pierce the septum. Thereafter, the needle can be in fluid connection with the fluid channel so that fluid can be aspirated out of the container through the fluid channel and the needle. This can reduce the dead volume of the container as the fluid channel can immerse into the container until it reaches the bottom thereof. There is also no risk for any crash of the needle at the bottom.

[0008] Further, the cap can enable the usage of very short needles, which can be cleaned and sterilized more easily than longer ones. Further, the time needed to immerse a short needle into the cap is considerably reduced compared to an immersion of a long needle to a bottom of a laboratory fluid container.

[0009] Even if a fluid channel reaching to the bottom of a laboratory fluid container provide a great benefit regarding the dead volume, it is also possible that the extension of the fluid channel is shorter, for example only a few millimeters, or to a mean height of a laboratory fluid container.

[0010] In a pre-use condition the septum can prevent any fluid connection between the upper opening of the fluid channel and the at least one lid opening. In other words, in the pre-use condition, the septum is intact and has not been pierced before. The cap according to the invention can be sterilized before it is used. It is also conceivable that all parts of the cap, such as fluid channel, and septum, can be removed from each other. This simplifies the cleaning procedure. All parts of the cap can be reusable. However, they can also be exchanged separately. For example, the septum can be exchanged, while the lid and the fluid channel can be reused.

[0011] The septum can be made of silicone. The fluid channel can extend from the septum. The cap can include means to provide a sealed connection between the upper opening of the fluid channel and the septum. There can be a flange at an upper end of the fluid channel extending outward from the upper opening. The flange can be almost perpendicular to an outer wall of the fluid channel. For a tighter contact between the septum and the fluid channel the flange can have the shape of a funnel, whose smaller opening can end in the upper opening of the fluid channel.

[0012] In one embodiment the upper opening of the fluid channel can be aligned with the at least one lid opening so that a needle being inserted into the at least one lid opening and piercing the septum will directly reach the upper opening. In this embodiment the at least one lid opening and the tube opening can be coaxial. The upper opening and the upper portion of the fluid channel can have an increased inner diameter compared to an inner diameter of another portion of the fluid channel. This can enable that a needle can immerse into the upper portion of the fluid channel, which can lead to a better fluid connection between the needle and the fluid channel.

[0013] According to a further embodiment of the present invention, the cap can comprise a tube seal having at least one tube seal through-hole adapted to sealingly receive the tube portion. The tube seal can provide a sealed connection between the upper opening of the fluid channel and the septum, so that there is no fluid leakage during the dispensing of fluid out of a laboratory fluid container. Additionally, there might be a fixed connection between the tube portion and the tube seal. The fixed connection can be an adhesive connection, a glued connection, or a press-fit connection.

[0014] Preferably, the septum is sandwiched between the lid and the tube seal. Thus, the flange of the fluid channel can extend between the tube seal and the septum.

[0015] The tube seal can be removed from the cap and can be cleaned or sterilized. Thus, even if the cap has a tube seal, all parts of it can be removed, cleaned, or/and replaced.

[0016] The tube seal can also provide a sealing between the cap and a laboratory fluid container to avoid any leakage of air or/and fluid out of said laboratory fluid container. Therefore, the tube seal can comprise at least one projecting portion having a peripheral surface, wherein the at least one projecting portion can be adapted to extend into a laboratory fluid container so that the peripheral surface thereof can sealingly contact an inner wall of said laboratory fluid container.

[0017] The projecting portion can be a projecting area, such as a circular projection, or a projecting annular ring. An axis through a center of the at least one lid opening can intersect the projecting portion or can be within an area framed by the peripheral surface.

[0018] The projecting area can be an integral part of the tube seal or can be attached to the tube seal.

[0019] In particular, the tube seal comprises a plurality of projecting portions each of which has a peripheral surface, wherein the projecting portions can differ in their dimensions, such as their circumferential surface or/and their height.

[0020] Each of the plurality of projecting portions can be adapted to extend into a certain laboratory fluid container to provide a sealing for laboratory fluid containers having different sizes. Each projecting portion can provide a peripheral surface adapted to a certain type of laboratory fluid containers. In order words, one tube seal can provide a plurality of peripheral surfaces being adapted to sealingly contact inner walls of the same number of different laboratory fluid containers.

[0021] The plurality of projecting portions increases the usability of the cap. It can also increase the number of applications for which the cap can be used.

[0022] In a further preferred embodiment of the cap, the lid can have a plurality of lid openings each of which being arranged adjacent to said septum, which covers the plurality of lid openings. The plurality of lid openings can allow the insertion of a plurality of needles or tubes into the lid. May be one of the plurality of openings is associated with a short fluid channel, for example to produce bubbles, another one may not have any associated channel, for example to provide a gas exchange, and yet another one can be associated with a fluid channel leading to the bottom of a laboratory fluid container.

[0023] In general, the cross-sectional area of the plurality of lid openings can differ from each other. Thus, it can be ensured that only needles having an acceptable outer diameter can be inserted into the respective lid opening.

[0024] Accordingly, the tube seal can have a plurality of tube seal through-holes, wherein at least two of them, preferably all of them, are associated with two of the plurality of lid openings, preferably with all of the plurality of lid openings.

[0025] In one exemplarily simple case, the at least one tube seal through-hole can be axially aligned with the at least one lid opening. In another example, one of the plurality of tube seal through-holes can be axially aligned with the at least one lid opening, or vice versa, one of the plurality of lid openings can be axially aligned with the at least one tube seal through-hole. In another exemplarily case, a plurality of tube seal through-holes can be axially aligned with the plurality of lid openings.

[0026] However, in all of the aforementioned exemplarily cases, the alignment must not be axially. In some cases, which will be discussed later, an axially alignment cannot be required but it can only be necessary that the at least one tube seal through-hole is associated with the at least one lid opening or the plurality of tube seal through-holes is associated with the plurality of lid openings. The important point is that in a use-condition, in which the needle pierces the septum, the at least one lid opening can be in fluid connection with the at least one tube seal through-hole, or the plurality of lid openings is in fluid connection with the plurality of tube seal through-holes.

[0027] In general, the number of tube seal through-holes and the number of lid openings can differ as long as at least one of each is aligned or associated.

[0028] For a relative positioning of the at least one tube seal through-hole and the at least one lid opening the tube seal can comprise a positioning element for an angular alignment of the tube seal to the lid. It is to be understood that the positioning element can also be used in case of the plurality of tube seal through-holes or/and the plurality of lid openings. The positioning element can be any element resulting in a deviation of the tube seal from a circular symmetry, e.g. a tab, or a recess of the tube seal can engage a respective recess or tab of the lid.

[0029] In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the cap can further comprise an adapter having first means for engaging said adapter and the lid. The adapter can provide a sealing force for a sealing contact between the tube seal and the lid. This sealing force can act on the tube seal in the direction of the lid so that the tube seal is subjected to a compressive force. This sealing force is preferably high enough for the tube seal to provide also a sealing contact between the lid and the septum, preferably between the septum and the tube seal.

[0030] The first means can comprise a thread which is engageable with a thread of the lid. The first means can also be a part of a snap coupling which can snap into a profile of the lid. However, the invention is not restricted to a thread or snap coupling. All first means can be used which can provide a tight connection between the adapter and the lid.

[0031] It is also preferred that the adapter further has second means for engaging said adapter and a laboratory fluid container. Thus, the adapter can enable a connection of the cap and a laboratory fluid container. The second means can comprise a thread which is engageable with a thread of a laboratory fluid container. The second means can be configured for engaging the adapter with a conventional laboratory fluid container, such as a container manufactured by Flacon™ or Eppendorf.

[0032] The first means can point outwardly and/or the second means can point inwardly with regard to the adapter.

[0033] According to an alternative embodiment the cap cannot comprise any adapter. In this alternative embodiment the cap may have means to engage the fluid container directly. In this case, the thread of the lid can be configured to engage a thread of a laboratory fluid container.

[0034] Likewise, the cap, preferably the adapter thereof, can further have identification means to indicate compatibility with a certain laboratory fluid container. This enables an easy association between the cap, preferably the adapter thereof, and a compatible laboratory fluid container without the need of touching these parts and trying their compatibility by experiments, which reduces the risk of contamination.

[0035] The identification means can be arranged at or be part of the adapter. The adapter can have different shapes each of which can indicate the compatibility to a certain laboratory fluid container.

[0036] According to one aspect of the invention, a kit can include the cap comprising an adapter having first and second connection means, and a further adapter, wherein both of the adapters have first connection means being identical and second connection means differing from each other. The providing of different adapters with one cap increases the range of application of the cap as each adapter fits to a different laboratory fluid container. Thus, the cap can be used with different laboratory fluid containers by exchanging the adapter.

[0037] The cap can further comprise rotational alignment means which are configured to define at least one angular orientation thereof. The rotational alignment means can be very useful if the tube is processed in an automated process to provide a defined position of the at least one lid opening or the plurality of lid openings. The rotational alignment means can be a shape of the cap, which deviates from an axial symmetry.

[0038] With regard to an automated positioning system, the process of inserting a needle in a small opening can require positioning systems with a high accuracy, which can be very expensive. Otherwise, an increase of the lid opening will lead to a higher risk of leakage in case that the needle misses the upper opening of the fluid channel. In order to avoid high costs for a very accurate positioning system and the risk of leakage, it is suggested that the cap further comprises a fluid-conveying element having a first opening facing to the lid and overlapping the at least one lid opening, and a second opening being in fluid connection with the upper opening of the fluid channel. Preferably, the second opening is opposite the first opening or/and faces to the tube seal.

[0039] In this context overlapping can mean that the cross-sectional area of the first opening of the fluid-conveying element is greater than the cross-sectional area of the at least one lid opening. Preferably, the cross-sectional area of the first opening is at least 5 percent, preferably, at least 15 percent, more preferably at least 25 percent, greater than the cross-sectional area of the at least one lid opening.

[0040] The first opening of the fluid-conveying element can be considerably greater than the tube opening and thus, the at least one lid opening can be increased compared to an embodiment being free of a fluid-conveying element. Preferably, the first opening of the fluid-conveying element extends in a depth direction from an upper surface of the fluid-conveying element and ends in the second opening. Thus, fluid being inserted into the first opening can be led to the second opening thereof. The second opening can be adjacent to the upper opening of the fluid channel. The second opening of the fluid-conveying element has preferably a cross-sectional area being the same or essentially the same as the upper opening of the fluid channel.

[0041] Preferably, the fluid-conveying element is arranged adjacent to the septum. Thus, the lid opening and the fluid-conveying element can be at opposite sides of the septum. More preferably, the fluid-conveying element is arranged between the septum and the tube seal. The fluid-conveying element can also be part of the tube seal or can be connected to the tube seal.

[0042] In case of the plurality of lid openings, it is of advantage that the fluid-conveying element has a plurality of annular channels each of which extends in a depth direction from the upper surface of the fluid-conveying element, wherein each of the plurality of the annular channels is associated with one of the plurality of lid openings.

[0043] The first opening can have the shape of an annular channel. This may have the benefit that the at least one lid opening is aligned with the first opening independent of the angular orientation of the at least one lid opening. It is also possible that the at least one lid opening has a shape being almost identical with the first opening of the fluid-conveying element.

[0044] The fluid-conveying element can also have a plurality of first openings and a plurality of second openings. Each of the plurality of first openings can end in one of the plurality of second openings. Each of the first openings can overlap one of the plurality of lid openings.

[0045] According to a second aspect, the invention relates to a docking device for receiving a cap, preferably a cap as described before, comprising a cap support element configured to support the cap in a predefined position; and a needle retaining means configured to retain at least one needle, wherein the needle retaining means is configured to align a lid opening of a lid of the cap with a retained needle in a state in which the cap is in a working position.

[0046] The docking device can provide a fast coupling of the cap and a needle which is adapted to immerse into the lid opening. The cap support element supporting the cap in a predefined position can enable a positioning of the cap in a defined angular orientation. In this case, a position of each part of the cap is known. If the cap has a lid having a lid opening for receiving a needle, the cap support element can ensure that the lid opening is at the predefined position. In another case, the cap can have an axial symmetrical shape, such as a circular shape, and the cap can be inserted in different angular positions or the cap support element can allow a rotation of the cap around its middle axis. In this case, only a radial position of the lid opening is predefined.

[0047] As the position of the cap is predefined and the needle retaining means is configured to align the lid opening of the lid in a state in which the cap is in a working position, the risk for a misalignment of a needle and the lid opening is reduced. Further, a defined position of the needle can reduce the risk that the needle crashes to the cap or a part of a laboratory fluid container.

[0048] Preferably, the cap support element is or is arranged at a docking drawer being slidable between a withdrawn position in which the cap can be inserted in the docking drawer and said working position. Thus, a user-friendly handling can be achieved.

[0049] A higher degree of automatization can be provided, if the docking device preferably further comprises at least one sensor configured to identify an identification means which indicates a compatibility of the cap with a certain laboratory fluid container. The identification of the container provides information regarding the dimensions of the container, such as its height, its shape, and its volume.

[0050] Further advantages and features of the present invention will become even clearer from the following description of embodiments of the invention with reference to the accompanying figures, wherein:
Fig. 1
shows a cap for closing a laboratory fluid container according to a first embodiment of the present invention in an explosion view (Fig. 1a) and a cross-sectional view (Fig. 1b),
Fig. 2
shows a conveying element which can be used in a second embodiment of the present invention in a cross-sectional view (Fig. 2a) and a perspective view (Fig. 2b), and
Fig. 3
shows a docking device for receiving a cap according to an embodiment of the present invention in a withdrawn position (Fig. 3a) and a working position (Fig. 3b) of the cap support element.


[0051] Fig. 1a schematically shows a cap 10 for closing a laboratory fluid container 12 according to the invention, comprising a lid 14, a septum 16, and a fluid channel 18. The lid 14 as presented in Fig. 1a has four lid openings 20. It should be noted that according to the invention only one of said lid openings 20 is mandatory. The at least one mandatory lid opening is denoted by reference sign 22. As can be seen in Fig. 1b, the septum 16 is arranged adjacent to the lid 14 and covers the at least one lid opening 22, or the lid openings 20, respectively. The septum 16 can also be adjacent to the fluid channel 18, wherein an upper opening 24 of the fluid channel 18 is in fluid connection with the septum 16. Further, the fluid channel 18 has a tube portion 28, which is adapted to extend into a laboratory fluid container 12 in the state, shown in Fig. 1b, in which the laboratory fluid container 12 is connected to the cap 10.

[0052] Preferably, the middle axis of the at least one lid opening 22 and the middle axis of the upper opening 24 of the fluid channel 18 are coaxial. This means that a tip of a needle being inserted into the at least one lid opening 22 and piercing the septum 16 can reach the upper opening 24. It is also possible that the needle can contact a circumferential wall of the upper opening 24. It is desirable that said contact is a sealed contact.

[0053] For example, the upper opening 24 can be arranged at an upper portion 26 of the fluid channel 18 which can have an increased inner diameter compared to an inner diameter of another portion of the fluid channel 18, such as an adjacent portion. Due to the increased diameter of the upper portion 26, a needle can immerse into the upper portion 26 to a certain extent, such as 2 to 10 mm. Such an immersion of a needle can provide a contact between an outer wall of the needle and an inner wall of the upper portion 26 of the fluid channel 18. It is desirable that said contact is a sealed contact. In other words, in this example, there might be the above mentioned contact between a needle and the circumferential wall of the upper opening 24 and an additional contact between the outer wall of the needle and the inner wall of the upper portion. Thus, the sealing area and the sealing properties between a needle and the fluid channel can be increased.

[0054] In the following, a possible use of the cap 10 will be described. The cap 10 can be connected to a laboratory fluid container 12 so that the fluid channel 18 extends into a laboratory fluid container and the lid 14 can close the opening of the laboratory fluid container 12. In this initial state the septum is unpierced and no gas or liquid can pass through the at least one lid opening 22. Further, the fluid channel 18 can immerse into a fluid being in a laboratory fluid container 12. Preferably, the fluid channel 18 extends until it reaches or almost reaches a bottom of a laboratory fluid container 12. In order to dispense fluid out of a laboratory fluid container, a needle can be inserted in the at least one lid opening 22 and can pierce the septum 16 so that the needle is in fluid connection with the fluid channel 18. A suction pressure applied to the needle can force said fluid to flow through the fluid channel 18 into the needle and thus out of the laboratory fluid container 12.

[0055] In case of a plurality of lid openings 20, each of which can be associated with a fluid channel. It is also possible that at least one of the plurality of lid openings 20 is not associated with a fluid channel. Furthermore, extension lengths of fluid channels can be different. For example, one can extend until it reaches the bottom of a laboratory fluid container and another one can be very short to be in contact with a gas volume in a laboratory fluid container 12. Also the cross-sections of the upper openings of the fluid channels can vary, such as to provide an adaption for needles differing in their outer diameter. It is also possible that one of the plurality of lid openings 20 is adapted to insert a gas or liquid into a laboratory fluid container 12. In such a case, no fluid channel needs to be associated as a needle piercing the septum would be in fluid connection with a gas volume in a laboratory fluid container 12.

[0056] In the embodiment shown in Fig. 1, the cap 10 further comprises a tube seal 30 having at least one tube seal through-hole 32 which can be adapted to sealingly receive the tube portion 28 or the upper portion 26 of the fluid channel 18, wherein the upper portion 26 can be a part of the tube portion 28. In particular, the fluid channel 18 and the tube seal 30 are in a sealed contact. The fluid channel 18 can have a flange 34 surrounding to the upper opening 4. As can be seen in Fig. 1b, the flange 34 can be sandwiched between the septum 16 and the tube seal 30 to ensure a sealed connection between the septum 16 and the fluid channel 18.

[0057] Besides the function of the tube seal 30 to hold the fluid channel 18, the tube seal 30 can also be adapted to provide a sealed contact between the lid 14 and a laboratory fluid container 12. Therefore, the tube seal 30 can have an outer area 36 which is configured to overlap an opening edge of a laboratory fluid container 12. In order to provide a more reliable sealing between the container 12 and the lid 14, the tube seal 30 can further comprise at least one projecting portion 38 being adapted to extend into a laboratory fluid container 12 so that a peripheral surface 40 of the projecting portion 38 sealingly contacts an inner wall of a laboratory fluid container 12.

[0058] It is also possible that the tube seal 30 comprises more than one projecting portion 38 to provide compatibility to more than one type of a laboratory fluid container 12. All of the projecting portions 38 can have a peripheral surface 40 as described above.

[0059] In the shown embodiment, the number of tube seal through-holes 32 and lid openings 20 is the same. All of the tube seal through-holes 32 can be aligned with one of the lid openings 20. Each of the tube seal through-holes is adapted to sealingly receive a tube portion of a fluid channel; however, there is no necessity that each tube seal through-hole receives a fluid channel.

[0060] The tube seal 30 can further comprise a tap 39 or another element 39 which lead to a non-axial symmetry of the tube seal 30. This can enable a defined angular orientation of the tube seal 30, preferably of the tube seal through-hole 32, in relation to the lid 14, preferably the at least one lid opening 22.

[0061] The cap can further comprise rotational alignment means 15 which can be configured to define at least one angular orientation thereof. The rotational alignment means 15 can be any deviation from a rotational symmetry of the cap 10, for example a non-round shape of the lid 14.

[0062] According to one example (not shown), the cap 10 can comprise means to directly connect the cap 10 to a laboratory fluid container 12. As a result, each cap needs to be manufactured to exactly fit to a certain laboratory fluid container. A broader usability of the cap 10 can be reached by using a cap 10 as shown in Fig. 1, further comprising an adapter 42. Such an adapter 42 can have first means 44 for engaging the adapter 42 and the lid 14. Further, the adapter 42 can have second means 46 for engaging the adapter 42 and a laboratory fluid container 12. As a result, only the adapter 42 needs to be adapted to fit to or engage a certain laboratory fluid container 12. In other words, the first means 44 can be identical for each adapter 42 and the second means 46 can differ between different adapters. The lid 12 can have means for engaging the first means 44 of the adapter 42. In the illustrated example, the first and the second means 44, 46 comprise threads.

[0063] The adapter 42 can further comprise identification means 47 indicating the compatibility of the adapter 42 to a certain laboratory fluid container 12. In the example shown in Fig. 1a the identification means 47 are a waveform of the lower edge of the adapter 47. However, also identification by a chip, a defined color or a bar code can be used.

[0064] The purpose of the adapter is to provide a kit comprising a cap 10 with the adapter 42 and a further adapter, wherein preferably both of the adapters have first means 44 being identical and second means 46 differing from each other. As all parts of the cap 10 can be re-used and/or exchanged, the user has lots of possibilities to use the cap 10 without the need of buying several different caps.

[0065] The first embodiment of the cap 10 as described above requires an alignment of the at least one lid opening 22 of the lid 14 and the upper opening 24 of the fluid channel 18 to provide a fluid connection between a needle being inserted into the at least one lid opening 22 and piercing the septum 16 to be in fluid connection with the upper opening 24 of fluid channel 18. In case of handling of small fluid volumes, the lid opening 22 as well as the upper opening 24 of the fluid channel might be very small, such as only a few millimeters. As a result, the requirements for the positioning of a needle are very high. The cap 10 according to a second embodiment provides a cap reducing these requirements.

[0066] The second embodiment of the cap 10 can comprise all of the elements mentioned in connection with the first embodiment of the cap 10. Features which are the same in the first and the second embodiments will not be repeated, but differences will be explained in the following.

[0067] The cap 10 according to the second embodiment can further comprise a fluid-conveying element 50 as shown in Fig. 2. The fluid-conveying element 50 can have a first opening 52 and a second opening 54 which are in fluid connection, wherein the first opening 52 is greater than the second opening 54. Preferably, the cross-section of the second opening 54 is identical or almost identical to the cross-section of the upper opening 24 of the fluid channel 18. The first opening 52 can be arranged adjacent to the septum 16 and the second opening 54 can open into the upper opening 24. The first opening 52 can overlap the at least one lid opening 22. It should be noticed that due to the fluid-conveying element 50, the at least one lid opening 22 is associated with the fluid channel 18 and can be brought in fluid connection if the septum is pierced.

[0068] As can be seen in Fig. 2, the lid opening 52 can extend in a depth direction from an upper surface 56 of the fluid-conveying element 50 and can terminate in the second opening 54. Thus, fluid being inserted into the first opening 52 can flow to the second opening 54. In the example shown in Fig. 2, the first opening 52 can have the shape of an annular ring. Thus, the at least one lid opening 22 can be arranged somewhere adjacent to the first opening 52, so that a tip of a needle being inserted in the at least one lid opening 22 and piercing the septum 16, will immerse within the first opening 52, e.g. the annular ring shaped first opening 52. With respect to the above-mentioned positioning requirement of a needle, in case of an annular ring, only a radial positioning of a needle is necessary.

[0069] Even if the presented fluid-conveying element 50 has a first opening 52 in the shape of an annular ring, also other shapes of the first opening 52 are possible. For example, the first opening can also be an increased circular hole or can have a helical structure.

[0070] In order to provide a reliable usage of the fluid-conveying element 50, a tight contact between the upper surface 56 of the fluid-conveying element 50 and the septum 16 should be ensured as well as a sealing contact between the fluid channel and the second opening 54. Preferably, the fluid-conveying element 50 is sandwiched between the septum 16 and the tube seal 30. Thus, in the second embodiment, the fluid channel 18 can be adjacent to the fluid-conveying element 50 and the flange 34 thereof can ensure a sealed connection between the fluid conveying element 50 and the fluid channel 18.

[0071] Regardless as to whether or not the cap 10 comprises the fluid-conveying element 50, the adapter 42 can be adapted to provide a force pressing the seal tube 30, preferably the outer area 36 thereof, against the lid 14, so that a compression force is acting on the tube seal 30. In turn, the tube seal 30 presses the septum 16 in case of the first embodiment, and the fluid-conveying element 50 and the septum 16 in case of the second element against the lid 14. As a result, in case of the first embodiment, a tight contact between the tube seal 30 and the septum 16 can be provided, and in case of the second embodiment, a tight contact between the upper surface 56 of the fluid-conveying element and the septum 16 as well as a tight contact between the tube seal 30 and the fluid-conveying element 50 can be provided.

[0072] Fig. 3 shows a docking device 60 for receiving a cap, for example the cap 10 as described above, comprising a cap support element 62 configured to support the cap 10 in a predefined position of the cap 10. The cap support element 62 can be in a withdrawn position, as shown in Fig. 3a, and a working position, as shown in Fig. 3b. Preferably, the cap support element 62 is arranged at or is a docking drawer 62 being slidable between the withdrawn position and the working position. In the withdrawn position, the cap 10 can be inserted into the cap support element 62.

[0073] The docking device 60 also comprises needle retaining means 64 configured to retain at least one needle. When the cap support element 62 is in the working position, at least one lid opening of a lid of the cap 10 can be aligned to at least one needle retaining part of the needle retaining means 64. For example, the at least one lid opening 22 of the cap 10 is aligned with a needle being retained by the needle retaining means 64. It should be noted that also the plurality of lid openings 20 of the lid 14 can be aligned with a respective part of the needle retaining means 64.

[0074] As can be seen in Fig. 3a, rotational alignment means 66 can be provided to ensure that the cap 10 is supported by the cap support element 62 in a predefined position. In the presented case, the predefined position can define an axial orientation as well as an angular orientation of the cap 10. For example, the rotational alignment means can engage the aforementioned rotational alignment means 15 of the cap 10. It should be noted that in case of the usage of the fluid-conveying element 50 as shown in Fig. 2 with a cap according to the second embodiment, it can be sufficient that the rotational alignment means 66 defines an axial position of the cap 10. This is possible as a rotation of the cap would not change a radial position of a lid opening, such as the first opening 52 of the fluid-conveying element 50 is an annular ring.

[0075] The docking device 60 can further comprise at least one sensor configured to identify an identification means which indicates a compatibility of the cap with a certain laboratory fluid container 12. The mentioned identification means 47 can be any feature of the cap 10. However, in case of the usage of the adapter 42, the identification means 47 can be arranged at the adapter. For example, the sensor can be configured to identify identification means 47 as described before with regard to the adapter 42.


Claims

1. Cap (10) for closing a laboratory fluid container (12), preferably a sterile laboratory fluid container (12), comprising:

- a lid (14) having at least one lid opening (22); and

- a septum (16) being arranged adjacent to said lid opening (22) and covering said at least one lid opening (22),

characterized in that
the cap (10) further comprises a fluid channel (18) having an upper opening (24) in fluid connection with the septum (16), wherein the fluid channel (18) has a tube portion (28) adapted to extend into a laboratory fluid container (12) in a state in which a laboratory fluid container (12) is connected to the cap (10).
 
2. Cap (10) according to claim 1, characterized in that the cap (10) further comprises a tube seal (30) having at least one tube seal through-hole (32) adapted to sealingly receive the tube portion (28).
 
3. Cap (10) according to claim 2, characterized in that the tube seal (30) comprises at least one projecting portion (38) having a peripheral surface (40), wherein the at least one projecting portion (38) is adapted to extend into a laboratory fluid container (12) so that the peripheral surface (40) thereof sealingly contacts an inner wall of a laboratory fluid container (12).
 
4. Cap (10) according to claim 3, characterized in that the tube seal (30) comprises a plurality of projecting portions (38) each of which has a peripheral surface (40), wherein the projecting portions differ in their dimensions.
 
5. Cap (10) according to one of the previous claims, characterized in that the lid (14) has a plurality of lid openings (20) each of which being arranged adjacent to said septum (16), which covers the plurality of lid openings (20).
 
6. Cap (10) according to claim 5, characterized in that the tube seal (30) has a plurality of tube seal through-holes (32), wherein at least two of them, preferably all of them, are associated with two of the plurality of lid openings (20), preferably with all of the plurality of lid openings (20).
 
7. Cap (10) according to one of the previous claims, characterized in that the cap (10) further comprises an adapter (42) having first means (44) for engaging said adapter (42) and the lid (14).
 
8. Cap (10) according to claim 7, characterized in that the adapter (42) further has second means (46) for engaging said adapter (42) and a laboratory fluid container (12).
 
9. Cap (10) according to one of the previous claims, characterized in that said cap (10), preferably the adapter (42) thereof, further has identification means (47) to indicate compatibility with a certain laboratory fluid container (12).
 
10. Cap (10) according to one of the previous claims, characterized in that the cap (10) further comprises a fluid-conveying element (50) having a first opening (52) facing to the lid (14) and overlapping the at least one lid opening (22), and a second opening (54) being in fluid connection with the upper opening (24) of the fluid channel (18).
 
11. Cap (10) according to claim 10, characterized in that, the first opening (52) of the fluid-conveying element (50) extends in a depth direction from an upper surface (56) of the fluid-conveying element (50) and ends in the second opening (54).
 
12. Kit, comprising a cap (10) according to claim 8, and a further adapter, wherein both of the adapters have first connection means (44) being identical and second connection means (46) differing from each other.
 
13. Docking device (60) for receiving a cap, preferably a cap (10) according to one of the claims 1 to 11, comprising:

- a cap support element (62) configured to support the cap in a predefined position; and

- a needle retaining means (64) configured to retain at least one needle,

wherein the needle retaining means (64) is configured to align a lid opening of a lid of the cap with a retained needle in a state in which the cap is in a working position.
 
14. Docking device (60) according to claim 13, characterized in that the cap support element (62) is or is arranged at a docking drawer (62) being slidable between a withdrawn position in which the cap can be inserted in the docking drawer and said working position.
 
15. Docking device (60) according to claim 13 or 14, characterized in that the docking device (60) further comprises at least one sensor configured to identify an identification means which indicates a compatibility of the cap with a certain laboratory fluid container (12).
 




Drawing