Origami Inspires Tiny Medical Devices

Origami Inspires Tiny Medical Devices

One of the reasons the medical industry
is interested in origami is to create devices that are smaller. They wanted a
new concept not just a smaller device but a new way to think about the devices. Origami is often useful in medicine for much the same reason that it’s useful in
space. If you have something that is flat and sheet-like but you want to get into the
body, you want it to go in through as small hole as possible. Doctors are always looking for some kind
of way to be less invasive or to be more precise. Or perhaps to do surgeries that
require more precision maybe working with nerves or something that is very
small. BYU has recently entered into an
agreement with Intuitive Surgical Incorporated to license patents on
devices that have been developed in our lab. Intuitive Surgical is a company that
makes the DaVinci robot that does surgeries robotically. Here we can see one of their
current devices that used to grasp things or to hold a needle to do suturing.
The initial inspiration for the grasping device we worked on was an origami pattern
the people commonly called “chompers.” Here is a large scale prototype that was
based on some origami ideas of reducing the part count. So you can see that here we just
have this 3-D printed plastic and here we’ve actually moved to 3-D printed in stainless steel and we’re able to make parts at this 4 millimeter scale.
3-D printing allows us to experiment with a shape or prototype very quickly. I can have
an idea from the computer to the 3-D printer into our lab for a look in less
than a day. We have about a third or fourth of the number of parts of a
current device, so many fewer parts. And the parts we have, the complexity of the
parts is lower. Our big idea is that we can make things smaller and smaller by
using inspiration of things like origami that are very simple. So instead of trying
to make their complexity smaller and smaller, we’re going for simplicity early.
These new devices that we’ve created to enable robotic surgery at smaller scales
to be less invasive, we really feel like going to make a big difference

9 thoughts on “Origami Inspires Tiny Medical Devices

  1. Our son, Clayton Grames, worked on this team at BYU and is now employed at Intuitive Surgical. He has loved origami since he was a teenager living in Japan.

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