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New Scale developing world's smallest commercial hexapod

New Scale Technologies' prototype miniature hexapod.



New Scale Technologies is developing the world's smallest commercial hexapod under a Phase 1 Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grant. Awarded by the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the grant funds development of a clinically compatible, six-degree-of-freedom (6-DOF) handheld micromanipulator for hand-tremor cancellation in microsurgical systems.

A prototype micromanipulator was first developed by the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University with New Scale contributions. At less than 25 mm in diameter, it was the first hexapod (or Gough-Stewart platform) small enough for use in a hand-held instrument.

Handheld micromanipulator (left) and hexapod with New Scale SQUIGGLE motor motion system (right). [Images courtesy: Carnegie Mellon University]



New Scale is using the SBIR grant to develop an improved hexapod system with the same small size as the prototype, preparing the way for a clinically compatible product ready for commercialization. Specific aims include improved dynamic performance, higher precision, and integration of a microcontroller with local feedback and motion control. Additionally, New Scale will evaluate the feasibility of a future wireless instrument with MEMS inertial sensors, on-board batteries, and wireless communication.

New Scale SQUIGGLE motor animation.



The hexapod system incorporates six piezoelectric SQUIGGLE micro motors, miniature bearing assemblies, motor mounts, flexures, spring preloads, and miniature drive electronics.

In the handheld surgical tool, CMU algorithms enable the hexapod system to track its own motion, filter the undesired motion component, and deflect the tool tip with equal and opposite motion to reduce tremor amplitude. The CMU research was published in IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics, Volume 20, Issue 2, by Yang, MacLachlan, and Riviere.

With its unprecedented small size and submicron precision, a commercialized version of the miniature hexapod has utility beyond microsurgery. Applications include use as a robotic end effector for testing and manufacture of MEMS and photonics accessories, and positioning and alignment of collimated fibers or assemblies.

M3 "micro-mechatronic module" platform delivers key benefits
The micro hexapod positioner builds on New Scale's M3 "micro-mechatronic module" development platform, enabling some of the smallest, highest resolution, most repeatable closed-loop positioning solutions available.

Each M3 smart module integrates New Scale's patented and proprietary SQUIGGLE or UTAF piezoelectric motors, drive electronics, position sensors, micro mechanical guides, and control technologies. These all-in-one smart modules plug and play directly with an embedded processor to provide fast time to market with low total cost.

VIDEO:This video shows how Carnegie Mellon University's "Micron" handheld tool improves microsurgery through active tremor cancellation for better control of a tool tip. Applications shown are in vitreo retinal surgery, handheld scanning for intraocular optical coherence tomography (OCT), and automated intraocular laser photocoagulation. The Micron tool incorporates a proof-of-concept hexapod system developed in collaboration with New Scale Technologies. Six piezoelectric SQUIGGLE micro motors are integrated with miniature bearing assemblies, motor mounts, flexures, and spring preloads. Drive electronics integrated into the miniature handheld instrument dynamically adjust drive parameters to optimize performance of each motor under varying conditions including changing temperature and side loads.

Source: New Scale Technologies

Published May 2016

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