Research Papers

Design and Fabrication of Laser-Machined Hinge Joints on Miniature Tubes for Steerable Medical Devices

[+] Author and Article Information
Shivanand Pattanshetti

BioRobotics Laboratory,
Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Texas A&M University,
College Station, TX 77843
e-mail: shivanandvp@tamu.edu

Seok Chang Ryu

BioRobotics Laboratory,
Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Texas A&M University,
College Station, TX 77843
e-mail: scryu@tamu.edu

Manuscript received April 11, 2017; final manuscript received October 31, 2017; published online December 20, 2017. Assoc. Editor: Robert J. Wood.

J. Mechanisms Robotics 10(1), 011002 (Dec 20, 2017) (8 pages) Paper No: JMR-17-1103; doi: 10.1115/1.4038440 History: Received April 11, 2017; Revised October 31, 2017

With the proliferation of successful minimally invasive surgical techniques, comes the challenge of shrinking the size of surgical instruments further to facilitate use in applications such as neurosurgery, pediatric surgery, and needle procedures. This paper introduces laser machined, multi-degree-of-freedom (DOF) hinge joints embedded on tubes, as a possible means to realize such miniature instruments without the need for any assembly. A method to design such a joint for an estimated range of motion was explored. The effects of design and machining parameters on the mechanical interference, range of motion, and joint dislocation were analyzed. The extent of interference between the moving parts of the joint can be used to predict the range of motion of the joint for rigid tubes and future design optimization. The total usable workspace was also estimated using kinematic principles for a joint in series and for two sets of orthogonal joints. Our work can open up avenues to a new class of miniature robotic medical devices with hinge joints and a usable channel for drug delivery.

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Fig. 1

Examples of multi-DOF hinge joints embedded on miniature tubes by on-axis laser machining. From the left, an 8 mm diameter EndoWrist arm used in the da Vinci surgical robotic system (added for the size comparison), a 5 mm diameter stainless steel tube with 2-2 orthogonal hinge joints, a 1.27 mm diameter NiTi tube with 3-3 orthogonal hinge joints, and a 1.27 mm diameter NiTi tube with 1-1 orthogonal hinge joints.

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Fig. 2

The process of laser machining. A beam of laser is focused onto the desired location on the workpiece while being fed continuously with a pressurized assist gas. In this paper, the effect of laser cutting is simplified and studied by incorporating a kerf-angle (ϕ) and kerf width (k).

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Fig. 3

Comparison of (a) off-axis, (b) on-axis, and (c) on-point machining for cutting hinge joints. Different hinge geometries can be achieved by suitably directing the laser beam. On-axis and on-point machining result in the formation of a wedge that prevents the hinge from moving into the workpiece. This wedging action can secure the hinge against lateral dislocation when machined on both sides of the workpiece. In this paper, on-axis machining is examined.

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Fig. 4

Laser-machined hinge joints embedded on a tube to form a 2DOF steerable cannula showing the exploded view with the various parts labeled (Note: The joints do not need any assembly)

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Fig. 5

(a) Unwrapping a curve on a cylinder to a 2D sketch. Note that the Z-axis maps to the Ỹ-axis, while the X- and Y-axes map to the X̃-axis. (b) Laser-machined hinge joints embedded on a tube to form a 2DOF steerable cannula showing the actuated configuration with the local coordinate system and geometric parameters. One of the machined curves is labeled, and has an equation z = f(x, y). (c) Design of the neck based on the intended range of motion.

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Fig. 6

A sample sketch to embed two orthogonal hinge joints onto a 30 mm long tube of diameter 1.27 mm. Slots are made to allow tendon routing. The hinge and neck curves are derived from Eqs. (2) and (3), respectively.

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Fig. 7

The geometric model of the hinge where (a) shows the pin and socket surfaces at the pin–socket interface. (b) shows the same two pin and socket surfaces when the pin is rotated by 30 deg about the Y-axis.

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Fig. 11

Cross-sectional view of the hinge at its widest, showing the parameters involved in finding the equation of the normal to the laser path. Point P is on the boundary of the hinge, but in a plane different from the one shown in this figure, hence being closer to the center than the laser beam directions shown at the hinge boundaries for the plane at which the hinge is widest.

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Fig. 10

The geometric model of the hinge showing the laser cutting path, normals to the laser cutting path, the machining kerf cone, and relevant labeled parameters of interest

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Fig. 9

The effect of manufacturing tolerance: The cross section of the hinge joint as viewed along the axis of the workpiece with the axis of the joint (a) in its original position and (b) tilted to close the laser kerf. (c) and (d) show the cross section of the hinge joint as viewed normal to the axis of the workpiece with the hinge axis in its original position, and moved to close the kerf, respectively.

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Fig. 8

Kerf width measurements for axial and circumferential cuts on (a) 5 mm diameter stainless steel tube and (b) 1.27 mm diameter stainless steel tube

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Fig. 12

Predicted range of motion (θmax) on one side, based on (a) normalized kerf size (k¯) (where ϕ = 0 deg and t¯=0.1), (b) kerf angle (ϕ) (where k¯=0.00381 and t¯=0.1), (c) normalized hinge size d¯h for critical section at the inner surface (d¯c=0.8), the central surface (d¯c=0.9), and outer surface (d¯c=1) (where k¯=0.00381, ϕ=0 deg, and t¯=0.1), (d) normalized thickness of the tubular workpiece t¯ (where k¯=0.00381 and ϕ = 0 deg). (a), (b), and (d) are estimated for normalized hinge sizes (d¯h) of 0.3, 0.4 and 05. (e) Hinge joint (d¯h=0.5) left to actuate due to gravity in two different positions, for range measurement. (f) Predicted range of motion compared to measured minimum and maximum ranges of motion for samples of three different hinge sizes, accounting for differing kerf widths. Unless stated otherwise, normalization has been done with respect to the outer tube diameter (do).



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