Origami Inspires BYU Researchers Who Create Tiny Surgical Tools

Origami Inspires BYU Researchers Who Create Tiny Surgical Tools

(KUTV) Engineers at BYU are developing new technology that could revolutionize the future of internal medicine. They're building tiny mechanical tools capable of performing complex surgical procedures with minimal impact on the human body.

And their inspiration is coming from the ancient art of origami.

"Origami starts out very flat and then can morph into other shapes, says Larry Howell, a professor of engineering at BYU. "So imagine (a tool) being inserted into the body, but once you're inside the body, it could expand out and become a pair of forceps."

A team of BYU researchers have been using these principles to build prototypes with materials suitable for surgery and have been making them smaller and smaller.

"I can use the engineering knowledge I have that can one day change people's lives for the better, that's what gets me out of bed in the morning," says Brian Jensen, BYU Professor of Mechanical Engineering, who says small instruments will improve laparoscopic procedures to make them less invasive and so they require very little sutures to close the wound, if any at all. "The surgical procedure is faster. The surgical care that happens afterwards is faster. I can go home sooner. I can recover faster."

The latest research from this group has led to a licensing deal with Intuitive Surgical, the company responsible for creating the da Vinci surgical robot.

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