Origami inspires mini surgical tools

Intuitive Surgical tools
20 March 2016

Did you know that origami isn’t just useful for creating swans or cranes – or folding solar arrays for launch into space? It’s also making cutting edge mini tools to make medicine less invasive.

A team of mechanical engineering professors from Brigham Young University have been applying its principles to bioengineering, designing surgical technology that could produce instruments so small that incisions can heal on their own without sutures. One example is the D-Core, a device that starts out flat and then expands to become two rounded surfaces that roll on each other, mimicking spinal discs. Another is a 3D printed robotically-controlled forceps which can pass through a hole as small as three millimetres, opening up new possibilities.

“The origami-inspired ideas really help us to see how to make things smaller and smaller and to make them simpler and simpler,” professor Spencer Magleby explained and then compared it to the work they’ve done for NASA: “Those who design spacecraft want their products to be small and compact because space is at a premium on a spacecraft, but once you get in space, they want those same products to be large, such as solar arrays or antennas. There’s a similar idea here. We’d like something to get quite small to go through the incision, but once it’s inside, we’d like it to get much larger.”

Though death rates from complications of surgery have declined in recent years, the idea of shrinking tools to make surgery less invasive is a good one. The tools have been licensed to Intuitive Surgical, the world leader in robotic surgery, who hope to make these surgical procedures as safe as possible so that one day they can manipulate things as small as nerves.

Watch how the ancient Japanese art of paper folding inspires the tiny medical devices:

Submitted by

Lisa Goldapple, Editor, Atlas of the Future

Project leader

Larry Howell, Spencer Magleby and Brian Jensen

Location

United States (Provo)

Photos: Mark Philbrick/Brigham Young University

Creative Commons License

Comments

 

Data Protection Act: LOPD.
In compliance with Organic Law 15/1999, of 13 of December, on Personal Data Protection, and the development of Rules of Procedure, approved by Royal Decree 1720/2007, of 21 of December, Atlas of the Future subscribers may be required to provide Personal Data, which will be included in a file owned by Democratizing The Future Society SL. Such file is duly incorporated in the Spanish Data Protection Agency and protected in compliance with the security measures established in the applicable legislation. Subscribers may exercise, at any time, their rights of access, rectification, cancellation and/or opposal regarding their Personal Data. The subscriber shall notice their will, either under written form addressed to Democratizing The Future Society SL, Ref. LOPD, Calabria, 10 6-3 08015 - Barcelona (Spain) and/or by e-mail, clicking here. Also, the subscriber shall communicate Atlas of the Future any modifications of their Personal Data stored, so that the information stored by Atlas of the Future remains at all times updated and error-free
Close