Design Engineering

Check out the world’s smallest 3D printed biopsy robot


Automation Medical 3D printing surgical robot

University of Twente researchers design a robot using 3D-printed plastic driven by rectilinear and curved air-pressure motors.

Robots are increasingly becoming smaller and more accurate when it comes to medical procedures.

twent robot surgery tiny

Image courtesy of University of Twente

A team from the University of Twente’s Robotics and Mechatronics (RAM) lab have developed the world’s smallest and highly accurate surgical robot—Stormram 4.

This robot was design using 3D-printed plastic and is driven by rectilinear and curved air-pressure motors. The robot is controlled from outside a MRI scanner by means of 5-metre-long air pipes. The design is smaller than the previous version, enabling it to fit inside the MRI scanner’s narrow tunnel.

One of the main applications for this new robot is for breast cancer screenings. The tiny robot offers accurate needle control for effective real-time MRI scanning and biopsy for more accurate diagnoses to be made.


The robot won an award during the Surgical Robotic Challenge at the international Hamlyn Symposium in London: one of the world’s most important events in the field of robotic surgery.

Robotics offers a solution to the challenges of using manually operated needles in combination with MRI scanners. Robots are often made of metal, a material that cannot be used in the strong magnetic fields of MRI scanners. For this reason, the UT, in collaboration with Ziekenhuis Groep Twente (ZGT), has made the robot entirely of plastic.

Medical robots are becoming more commonplace in medical procedure in hospitals and we should expect to see more and more of them in the future.

Along with Groenhuis and Siepel the robot design involved close collaboration with Dr. Jeroen Veltman, a radiologist at Ziekenhuis Groep Twente (ZGT), to make the design as suitable as possible for clinical practice, and Abe van der Werf from Machnet B.V.


Stories continue below

Print this page

Related Stories