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This thesis presents two devices for passive and actuated grasping for surgical applications, both using superelastic materials. The first section of the thesis discusses the design, finite element analysis, and qualitative testing of a passive retainer subassembly for a Material Handling System for Natural Orifice Translumenal Endoscopic Surgery (NOTES). The purpose of the MHS is to shuttle necessary surgical items between miniature in vivo robots working inside the peritoneal cavity and surgeons outside the body through a natural orifice. The retainer subassembly is part of the actual shuttle and serves the purpose of securing the items that are loaded into the shuttle for transportation. The second part of this thesis discusses the design and quantitative testing of a laparoscopic grasper with fully compliant, monolithic jaws that deform as they grasp tissue. The goal of this device was to lessen the maximum pinch forces applied to soft tissues in an effort to prevent excess tissue trauma caused by excessive grasping forces.
Advisor: Carl A. Nelson