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DragonFlex 3D Printed Medical Instrument

Today, 3D printers are used by many manufacturers in their product development stage. However, the actual product is not produced on the 3D printer. But, many industries and tool manufactures that have had to remake a tool or change the design are starting to see the benefits of 3D printers. Many companies find that the 3D printer technology allows them the flexibility of creating new print jobs with an increasing amount of success.

The medical industry is starting to see the benefits of using 3D printers for their medical instruments. Some medical procedures require a special instrument that is not available or not right for the job. Therefore, many doctors have started to look at 3D printers for the instruments they use during surgical procedures. 

Hospitals and clinics absorb the high cost of purchasing the necessary tools they need for medical procedures. Furthermore, there is an added cost involved that is associated with maintaining and sterilizing them after every procedure. There are some commonly used medical instruments that will never be 3D printed, but there is some it makes sense to print. 

Filip Jelinex, a biomedical engineer designed the DragonFlex as part of his PhD thesis at Delft. The new design will be easy to replicate, will be a fraction of the cost of buying a new one, and can be customized from patient-to-patient. The steerable medical instrument is used by doctors for keyhole operations. 

The new DragonFlex was modeled after the EndoWrist instrument. The EndoWrist is a surgical tool that was engineered to act like the human wrist and is used through small incisions.

Jelinex’s research was aimed at designing a structurally simple handheld laparoscopic tool. The tool has a grasping forceps that are free from cable fatigue. Furthermore, the instrument can attain sufficient bending stiffness to use in medical operations. Jelinex wanted to further improve the design of the EndoWrist’s dimensions and maneuverability. 

According to Jelinex’s thesis the EndoWrist uses a complex design that is prone to steal cable fatigue. There are also sterilizations problems that have high associated costs. That is why Jelinex feels a need for an alternative solution for keyhole surgery. 

Jelinex’s DragonFlex instrument is shedding new light on the possibilities of using alternative manufacturing methods for surgical instruments. The new instrument allows for a feature-packed design, disposable, MRI compatibility, and is simple to assemble. 


Ann Johnston

About Ann Johnston

Ann enjoys writing, reading, gardening, fishing and the great outdoors. Her job has allowed her to travel and live in different countries. She enjoys studying and learning about different cultures.

Ann Johnston

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