TRIO™ Micromanipulator System from Sutter Instrument

The new TRIO™-245 from Sutter Instrument is a highly stable 3-axis manipulator with 25mm of travel on each axis. The TRIO's synthtic 4th axis can be set in software as any angle between 0 and 90 degrees for diagonal movement.

Based on a lead-screw design with a smaller overall size and footprint than most manipulators, the TRIO-245 is ideal for applications that require 2 pipettes in one setup or for setups where space is limited.

The compact design of the integrated Rotary Optical Encoder (ROE) controller requires minimal bench space; provides quiet, fan-free operation; and is easy to use. No rack mounted controller is required.

Position coordinates, in relative or absolute values, are displayed directly on the ROE. The TRIO manipulators use a logarithmic acceleration algorithm that eliminates the need for speed selection. As the knobs on the ROE are turned faster, acceleration ramps up.

This allows for smooth and intuitive motion control of electrode position without the need to stop and change speeds or lift your hand from the knobs. A Y-axis lockout function (accessible by DIP switch) is also available, allowing X/Z-only axial movement during HOME and WORK repositioning.

An alternate configuration, the TRIO-235, removes the Z axis and replaces it with an adjustable diagonal axis. This configuration pairs a traditional X and Y axis with a diagonal axis that can be adjusted in angle with a set screw.

The diagonal features 50mm of travel with X and Y axes that have 25mm of travel. On this model, we have added software to create a synthetic "Z-axis" by combining the diagonal and X axes in reverse of how we create a synthetic diagonal axis on our other manipulators. The TRIO-235 and TRIO-245 both feature the same precision bearing and lead-screw design.

Five conveniently located buttons control all the functions you will need in normal operation. Press and hold the [WORK] button to quickly store a work position; pressing [WORK] after this will return the manipulator to the same location.

[HOME] sends the manipulator to a second position, often set for a point furthest from the microscope, which is useful for rapid pipette exchange. Press [WORK] and [HOME] simultaneously to easily set or modify the 4th axis angle.

When you are ready to begin recording data, the motor drive electronics can be put in a super-quiet mode by pressing [LOCK]. Display coordinates can toggle between relative and absolute by pressing the [RELATIVE] button; holding the button down will zero the relative coordinates.

Finally, [PULSE] activates a pulse movement mode that produces small, rapid bursts of motion that can be advantageous for cell penetration with sharp electrodes.

Designed with maximum flexibility in mind, a DIP switch on the controller changes the directional movement of the ROE knobs to accommodate the preference of the user. The TRIO comes standard with a universal mounting system suitable for the most popular headstages or pipette holders.


  • Three independent axes - 25mm orthogonal travel in X, Y and Z
  • Sub-micron (less than 100nm) resolution
  • User selectable angle from 0 - 90 degrees via ROE input
  • Fast movement with a top speed of 3mm/sec (while homing)
  • Mechanically robust construction for high stability
  • Compact, fanless, user-friendly ROE controller preserves bench and rack space
  • Carries up to a kilogram
  • Push button control of multiple functions - WORK, HOME, LOCK, PULSE and RELATIVE
  • Suited for in vivo and in vitro electrophysiological recording
  • Universal mounting system for headstage or pipette holder
  • DIP switches on ROE select direction of movement produced by turn of ROE knob
  • USB interface for computer control