Small in Size, Big on Precision - Miniature Universal Joints in Minimally Invasive Surgical Device

Broadview (Chicago), Illinois, March 2007. Belden Inc., manufacturer of universal joints, has developed a miniaturized universal joint for a surgical tool used in minimally invasive surgery. The surgical manual manipulator system required a joint to transmit the power from the handle to the connecting shaft.

Tuebingen Scientific Medical GmbH, a spin-off company of the University of Tübingen, Germany, is a medical device company specializing in instrumentation for minimally invasive surgery. The surgical systems fill in the gap between conventional surgical instruments and surgical robotics. While conventional instrumentation does not meet the requirements of advanced endoscopic surgeons, robotic systems are too complex and costly for daily routine use. Tuebingen's manual manipulator system, called Radius Surgical System, represents a new class of surgical devices entirely focussed on providing full freedom to operate and optimal ergonomics without the complexity of electromechanical robotic devices. The surgical system has been designed to improve endoscopic suturing and other surgical maneuvers and can be used for a wide variety of surgical procedures in different clinical specialties.

The surgical system consists of two hand-guided surgical manipulators. Depending on the surgical task, graspers, scissors, needle holders and other devices can be attached to the tip and changeover only takes a few seconds. The system required a universal joint to transmit the power from the handle, which acts as a natural extension that emulates the movement of the hand, to the connecting shaft. The joint itself has an outside diameter of 8 mm to accommodate the space limitations of the surgical tool. A deflectable and rotable tip provides all degrees of handling freedom. During design development, the customer requested a specialized hub configuration to ensure a secure connection and precise operation. By means of innovative manufacturing processes, Belden made modifications to the standard universal joint concept and delivered prototypes for testing. The final design now incorporates the universal joint and a component of the internal extension as a single piece, which was originally done as two separate pieces. To adhere to the sterilization regulations required by the medical industry, the universal joint was manufactured in stainless steel.

With an outer diameter of only 8 mm (0.315"), Belden's miniature universal joints are suitable not only for medical equipment but for also many other applications in which space is restricted, including miniature machinery and model making. Originally developed in stainless steel for the manual operating device, Belden's miniature joints are available in alloy steel, with or without plating, and a variety of stainless steel grades to fit any application.

About Tuebingen Scientific Medical GmbH:

Tuebingen Scientific Medical GmbH, a spin-off company of the University of Tübingen, Germany, develops, produces and markets instruments and accessories for minimally invasive surgery. The products have been in clinical use since 2001 in various clinical specialties by leading endoscopic surgeons worldwide.

Tuebingen Scientific's products fill in the gap between conventional surgical instruments and surgical robotics. The signature product, the Radius Surgical System, has been designed to dramatically improve endoscopic suturing and other surgical maneuvers. The Radius Surgical System can be used for a wide variety of surgical procedures in different clinical specialties, including general surgery, cardio-thoracic surgery, urology, gynaecology and others.

Tuebingen Scientific Medical GmbH
Dorfackerstr. 26
D-72074 Tübingen, Germany
Tel.: 0049 (0)7071-770 45 18
Fax: 0049 (0)7071-76 35 74

About Belden:

Belden Inc., located in Broadview, Illinois, near Chicago, manufactures special-purpose universal joints and drive shaft assemblies made to customers' exact specifications. Belden supplies an extensive line of high quality, precision-engineered universal joints with complete shaft assemblies as well as couplings for a wide range of applications.

Founded in 1968, Belden's origins extend as far back as 1939. At that time, three brothers established the Precision Machine Shop. Focusing on extensive product line development, the workshop rapidly expanded. The company prospered when it successfully began to focus on manufacturing high quality universal joints for different applications. As the line of universal joints continued to grow, the company determined to design, manufacture and distribute the joints only under the name of Belden.

Today, Belden's unique manufacturing processes allow the flexibility to produce small batches economically and made-to-order custom parts just as cost-effectively as high volume standard universal joints. Applications include steering and shift linkage assemblies for race cars as well as industrial and off-road vehicles, aerospace, packaging and conveying equipment, food processing equipment, steel roll forming and leveling equipment, machine tools, woodworking equipment for the furniture industry and OEM machine tools.

Belden Inc.
Tel.: 708 344 4600
Fax: 708 344 0245

PR Contact:
Christiane Tupac-Yupanqui
TPR International
Trade Press Relations & Translation Services
Hermann-Löns-Weg 57
D-69207 Sandhausen, Germany
Tel.: 0049 (0)6224 172751
Fax: 0049 (0)6224 172752

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