The advent of minimally-invasive surgery has initiated a paradigm shift wherein open surgical procedures can now be performed through a number of small, millimeter-sized ports which can be quickly sutured closed, thus reducing patient morbidity and recovery time. The small scale of these procedures presents significant challenges to developing robust, smart, and dexterous tools for manipulating millimeter and submillimeter anatomical structures (e.g., vessels or nerves) and surgical equipment (e.g., sutures or staples).

As innovation is driven toward flexible (continuum) systems capable of intraluminal interventions, novel approaches for fabricating end-effectors with distal actuation and sensing modalities are required. To meet the demand for next-generation millimetric medical end-effectors, we are developing a versatile fabrication process, based on printed circuit board manufacturing techniques, to create monolithic, kinematically complex, three-dimensional machines in parallel at the millimeter to centimeter scales.

This paper describes an application of this manufacturing process in...

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