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Article

A Novel Design of Water-Activated Variable Stiffness Endoscopic Manipulator with Safe Thermal Insulation

by 1,2 and 1,2,*
1
School of Science and Engineering, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Shenzhen 518000, China
2
Shenzhen Institute of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics for Society, Shenzhen 518000, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Matteo Cianchetti
Actuators 2021, 10(6), 130; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10060130
Received: 7 May 2021 / Revised: 6 June 2021 / Accepted: 10 June 2021 / Published: 13 June 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soft Robots in Medical Applications)
In natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery (NOTES), an ideal endoscope platform should be flexible and dexterous enough to go through the natural orifices to access the lesion site inside the human body, and meanwhile provide sufficient rigidity to serve as a base for the end-effectors to operate during the surgical tasks. However, the conventional endoscope has limited ability for maintaining high rigidity over the length of the body. This paper presents a novel design of a variable stiffness endoscopic manipulator. By using a new bioplastic named FORMcard, whose stiffness can be thermally adjusted, water at different temperatures is employed to switch the manipulator between rigid mode and flexible mode. A biocompatible microencapsulated phase change material (MEPCM) with latent heat storage properties is adopted as the thermal insulation for better safety. Experiments are conducted to test the concept design, and the validated advantages of our proposed variable stiffness endoscopic manipulator include: shorter mode activation time (25 s), significantly improved stiffness in rigid mode (547.9–926.3 N·cm2) and larger stiffness-adjusting ratio (23.9–25.1 times). View Full-Text
Keywords: minimally invasive surgery (MIS); NOTES; surgical robot; variable stiffness endoscope; biocompatible thermoplastic; phase change materials minimally invasive surgery (MIS); NOTES; surgical robot; variable stiffness endoscope; biocompatible thermoplastic; phase change materials
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MDPI and ACS Style

Gao, Q.; Sun, Z. A Novel Design of Water-Activated Variable Stiffness Endoscopic Manipulator with Safe Thermal Insulation. Actuators 2021, 10, 130. https://doi.org/10.3390/act10060130

AMA Style

Gao Q, Sun Z. A Novel Design of Water-Activated Variable Stiffness Endoscopic Manipulator with Safe Thermal Insulation. Actuators. 2021; 10(6):130. https://doi.org/10.3390/act10060130

Chicago/Turabian Style

Gao, Qian, and Zhenglong Sun. 2021. "A Novel Design of Water-Activated Variable Stiffness Endoscopic Manipulator with Safe Thermal Insulation" Actuators 10, no. 6: 130. https://doi.org/10.3390/act10060130

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