What is a Pneumatic Egg Punch?

Thursday December 06 2018

A pneumatic egg punch is a pressurized tool used to make a circular incision in an eggshell. This is a delicate process that can be difficult to automate, given the fragility of the sample and the stringent non-contamination requirements of the technology’s usual areas of application.

In this blog post, Glas-Col explores the working principles of a pneumatic egg punch for virology applications.

Virology and Egg Punching

Egg punching is perhaps most commonly used by virologists studying viral propagation in animal tissue using assays taken from the biological matter of embryonated eggs.

Sustainably and ethically studying the propagation of animal viruses and the efficacy of novel vaccine chemistries, or established vaccines to new viral strains, requires a replenishable source of living animal tissue. This is complicated by issues of cost and reproducibility. In vitro studies of viral propagation typically require numerous cell cultures which demand high volumes of both the virus stock and the biological sample.

Virologists often use embryonated eggs from domesticated poultry as a ready source of living animal tissue for culturing and inoculation studies. The embryo, chorioallantois, yolk membrane, allantois, or amniotic sac may be inoculated without significantly damaging the shell and interrupting the embryonic development, providing a rich source of suitable animal tissue for eventual in vitro culturing.

After the infected eggs have been incubated for a suitable period, virologists must harvest tissue from the infected locality within the shell. This can be challenging as it is important not to disrupt the biological matter and cause cross-contamination which can impact the virus yield. Initially opening the shell is often performed by hand using sterile scissors, which can be time-consuming for high quantity virology studies.

Egg Punch Specifications

Glas-Col’s hand-held pneumatic egg punch represents a distinct improvement over standard cutting tools, producing a 1-inch fracture in eggshells without damaging the lower air sac membrane. This circular cap can then be lifted away using standard equipment, offering easy access for tissue harvesting. The blade of the egg punch can be sterilized using standard disinfectant methods or by heating in dry air, limiting the risk of process contamination.

The primary difference between the egg punch and standard cutting tools is the level of throughput achievable using this pneumatic tool. With a pressure range of 50 – 100psi, the egg punch knife can rapidly incise up to 60 eggs per minute, providing unmatched throughput for high volume tissue harvests. Each unit also boasts an approximate life cycle of approximately 1,000,000 punches.

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If you would like any more information about our pneumatic egg punch, please do not hesitate to contact us.