A Fully 3D-Printed Steerable Instrument for Minimally Invasive Surgery

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In the field of medical instruments, additive manufacturing allows for a drastic reduction in the number of components while improving the functionalities of the final design. In addition, modifications for users’ needs or specific procedures become possible by enabling the production of single customized items. In this work, we present the design of a new fully 3D-printed handheld steerable instrument for laparoscopic surgery, which was mechanically actuated using cables. The pistol-grip handle is based on ergonomic principles and allows for single-hand control of both grasping and omnidirectional steering, while compliant joints and snap-fit connectors enable fast assembly and minimal part count. Additive manufacturing allows for personalization of the handle to each surgeon’s needs by adjusting specific dimensions in the CAD model, which increases the user’s comfort during surgery. Testing showed that the forces on the instrument handle required for steering and grasping were below 15 N, while the grasping force efficiency was calculated to be 10–30%. The instrument combines the advantages of additive manufacturing with regard to personalization and simplified assembly, illustrating a new approach to the design of advanced surgical instruments where the customization for a single procedure or user’s need is a central aspect.