Microrobots 3D-printed for autonomous microsurgery : In situ integration method

Microrobots 3D printed with multiple components inside a microfluidic chips
Scientists at the Department of Mechanical Engineering of Osaka University have developed a new method to manufacture complex microrobots powered by chemical energy. This is called in situ integration. The resulting microrobots, which were 3D printed and assembled inside a microfluidic device, performed desired functions like grasping or moving. This work could help achieve the vision of autonomous robots performing microsurgery.

With the advancement of medical technology, previously impossible surgeries are now possible. We are still a long way from the promised future where microrobots can run through a patient’s body and perform microsurgery, or eliminate cancer cells.

Even though nanotech has mastered the art to create tiny structures, it is still a challenge for robots to be assembled and configured into complex, functional machines, especially at mass production scale. The assembly, integration, and reconfiguration process of tiny mechanical components and, in particular, movable actuators powered by chemical energy remains difficult and time-consuming.