Exploring High-Precision Non-Assembly Mechanisms

Design of a Vitrectome Mechanism for Eye Surgery

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A vitrectome is a commonly used instrument in eye surgery, which is used to cut and aspirate the vitreous body out of the eye. The mechanism of the vitrectome consists of miniature components that need to be assembled by hand due to their size. Non-assembly 3D printing, in which fully functional mechanisms can be produced in a single production step, can help create a more streamlined production process. We propose a vitrectome design based on a dual-diaphragm mechanism, which can be produced with minimal assembly steps using PolyJet printing. Two different diaphragm designs were tested to fulfill the requirements of the mechanism: a homogenous design based on ‘digital’ materials and a design using an ortho-planar spring. Both designs were able to fulfill the required displacement for the mechanism of 0.8 mm, as well as cutting forces of at least 8 N. The requirements for the cutting speed of the mechanism of 8000 RPM were not fulfilled by both designs, since the viscoelastic nature of the PolyJet materials resulted in a slow response time. The proposed mechanism does show promise to be used in vitrectomy; however, we suggest that more research into different design directions is required.