Origami is Helping to Revolutionize Surgery


Some mechanical engineers are starting to team up with using origami with medical technology to develop the next major wave in surgical tools. This will hopefully mean that there will be less invasive surgery for everyone.

The mechanical engineers are inspired by  the need for smaller and smaller tools. The Researchers from Brigham Young University (BYU) have now utilized the origami’s process of manipulation sheets of paper into narrow positions to create yet a new series of surgical devices and tools.

I bet you can guess how this is going to go. We are using a futuristic technology to help create these tools called 3D printing. With the amazing help of 3D printing capabilities, Larry Howell and Spencer Magleby are working on a way to build miniature devices and tools that could — one day — drastically reduce the invasiveness of surgical procedures.

By reading into this subject as much as I could. It is rumored that the size of the holes needed by these devices and tools will be so small that they can heal by themselves, without the need for any sutures.



BYU Student Jason Dearden helps with the origami inspired research.

BYU’s Team has been engineering new design concepts that don’t need pin joints and other common parts found in devices and tools. They have been working with deflections used in origami designs to create motion instead.

The surgical creations are following the same route as some of the devices that Magelby and Howell have worked on for NASA in space. The designs for NASA are relying on origami’s use of pressure.

One good example of this is getting solar arrays up into space. They require them to be very, very compact — however, once they are up there, the idea is for them to expand and do a job with very little need for additional parts. The surgical creations here will actually do something very similar. They will be fitting into tiny incisions and then expanding as needed and operating in a larger form within the body.

Magleby said:

These small instruments will allow for a whole new range of surgeries to be performed –hopefully, one day, manipulating things as small as nerves. The origami-inspired ideas really help us to see how to make things smaller and smaller and to make them simpler and simpler.

They even created a video to help show what is hopefully going to go on. The video is about robotically controlled forceps. They are so small that it can pass through a hole about 3mm in total size.

The findings have been published in Mechanism and Machine Theory.


Categories: Science

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