Tiny, Origami-Inspired Devices to Improve Minimally-Invasive Surgery

Brigham Young University mechanical engineers are working toward surgical technology that will allow for the manufacturing of instruments so small that the size of incisions necessary to accommodate the tools can heal on their own, without sutures. As a part of their work, BYU licensed a series of compliant mechanism technologies to Intuitive Surgical, the maker of the da Vinci Surgical System. BYU's team has engineered new design concepts that eliminate the need for pin joints and other parts, instead relying on the deflection inherent in origami to create motion. One instrument is a robotically-controlled forceps so small it can pass through a hole about three millimeters in size - about the thickness of two pennies held together.