“It’s a great feeling to use my mechanical skills to contribute to a better world”

Senior mechanical engineer Michiel Aarts has been working at Demcon for over two years and is proud to be able to contribute to a better world. He tells us about a surgical robot for microsurgery. He derives a great deal of satisfaction from this project. As lead mechanical engineer, Michiel is responsible for transforming the initial idea to a concept and subsequently to an end product. Safety, manufacturability and useability are important pillars in this precision mechanics project.

What makes this project so special?

The surgeon uses a joystick to operate the robot. This surgical robot enhances the safety of operations and provides additional treatment options for patients. I think it’s amazing that you can use new developments to help people that previously were beyond help because the required high level of precision was not available. This gives people hope and that makes me proud. I consider it a challenge to ensure that the design is optimized such that it is possible to effectively work with the robot. In addition, it is fun to think through how the product can subsequently be produced.

What mostly stayed with you from this project?

The practical dimension is an enjoyable aspect of working at Demcon. Sometimes you must avoid thinking too long, but simply develop a model and then test it. You can spend a long time thinking about what might fit the hand most comfortably, but by making a 3D print you can experience it yourself. You should not only approach it from a theoretical perspective, but most definitely from a practical perspective as well. The moment when you have a physical model of a concept that you can test is extremely satisfying.

What makes this project technically challenging?

At the present time a surgeon is as precise as his/her own hand movements, but a robot is far more precise. When a surgeon has consumed too much or too little coffee, or did not sleep enough, this can affect his/her precision. The surgical robot does not suffer from this and is able to work with far greater precision. This makes it possible to perform operations that previously were impossible or almost impossible. The controllers the surgeon holds in his/her hands are a smaller version of the robot arm. With these controllers, the surgeon must be able to make all the movements the robot is required to make. This must not only work comfortably for just a single surgeon, but for all surgeons. The surgeon must have the feeling that he/she is gripping something with the controller. This requires mechanical feedback. A major challenge is to design the controller in such a way that the surgeon has the feeling that he/she is actually operating.

Would you like to learn more about mechanical engineering at Demcon? Come visit us for a cup of coffee (or tea). Send an email to coffee@demcon.com and we will be happy to contact you!


more about the project.

Microsure is a medical devices company located in Eindhoven (Netherlands), founded by Eindhoven University of Technology and Maastricht University Medical Centre in 2016. The focus is on improving the lives of patients by developing robot systems for microsurgery. Demcon, together with microsurgeons and engineers, is involved in the development of the MUSA product, the world’s first surgical robot for open microsurgery. MUSA provides superhuman precision for microsurgeons, which makes new interventions possible that currently cannot be carried out by hand.