How small can it go? New Scale to develop world’s smallest commercial hexapod

April 15, 2016
New Scale Technologies is developing a clinically-compatible, 6-DOF, hand-held micromanipulator for hand tremor cancellation in microsurgical systems.  

(IMAGE: New Scale Technologies has been awarded an SBIR grant from NIH to develop a miniature commercial hexapod; the micropositioner has applications in retinal microsurgery, robotic end-of-arm tooling, MEMS and photonics micro-manufacturing, and fiber positioning and alignment. Courtesy New Scale Technologies.)

Under an SBIR Phase 1 grant from NIH, New Scale Technologies (Victor, NY) is developing a clinically-compatible, six-degree-of-freedom (6-DOF) hand-held micromanipulator for hand tremor cancellation in microsurgical systems. Awarded by the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH; Award Number R43EY026304), a prototype was less than 25 mm in diameter and was the first hexapod (or Gough-Stewart platform) small enough for use in a hand-held instrument. The prototype micromanipulator was developed at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) with New Scale contributions.

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, the company will evaluate the feasibility of a future wireless instrument with MEMS inertial sensors, on-board batteries, and wireless communication.

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

Source: New Scale Technologies

About the Author

Conard Holton | Editor at Large

Conard Holton has 25 years of science and technology editing and writing experience. He was formerly a staff member and consultant for government agencies such as the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the International Atomic Energy Agency, and engineering companies such as Bechtel. He joined Laser Focus World in 1997 as senior editor, becoming editor in chief of WDM Solutions, which he founded in 1999. In 2003 he joined Vision Systems Design as editor in chief, while continuing as contributing editor at Laser Focus World. Conard became editor in chief of Laser Focus World in August 2011, a role in which he served through August 2018. He then served as Editor at Large for Laser Focus World and Co-Chair of the Lasers & Photonics Marketplace Seminar from August 2018 through January 2022. He received his B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, with additional studies at the Colorado School of Mines and Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

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