It's all about service — General Foundry Service

Case Study - Intuitive Surgical - da VinciTM Surgical Arm System

Green Sand Castings

The Challenge

Exceeding the demands of pace-setting companies by identifying the most economical way to manufacture approximately 20 designs from prototypes through production and have a return on investment within 6 months.

Intuitive Surgical chose General Foundry Service, of San Leandro, and utilized General Foundry Service's "Precision" Sand Casting" process to produce the Arms, Carriages, Links, and Gimbals that are vital to the da VinciTM Surgical Arm System.

Intuitive Surgical, Inc. of Sunnyvale, CA, leads the development and commercialization of products that are designed to provide flexibility of open surgery while operating through tiny ports. By integrating robotic technology with surgeon skill, the da VinciTM System enables surgeons to perform better surgery in a manner never before experienced to enhance healing. General Foundry Service had the technical skills to produce the high quality product required.

The da VinciTM System, designed by Intuitive Surgical, technically is not a robot because its Arms are operated in real time by the surgeon. The surgeon's fingers are placed in Velcro rings and connected to a master controller. When the surgeon's fingers move, the device's arms move. Another Arm is used to operate a three-dimensional camera. One of the advantages of the device is that it provides three-dimensional magnification that is up to 10 times greater than in conventional surgery. Patient benefits may include less anesthesia, reduced blood loss, less post-operative pain and discomfort and faster recovery.

Product Development

For the Arm, the development process was complex, in that four fabricated/welded/machined parts were ultimately eliminated and consolidated into one Precision "Green" Sand Casting. This consolidation assures the stability and strength required, with a more economical price tag than fabricating/welding/machining. Further, it was necessary to engineer "cast-in" passages for electrical wiring, bearings, and brakes, required to control the robotic components. Superior engineering, patternmaking, casting, and machining skills are providing Intuitive Surgical with excellent quality at less cost. The differential cost between the fabricated/welded/machined parts and "Precision" Sand Casting has allowed a minimal investment in tooling to be returned in a very short amount of time.

Intuitive Surgical is delighted with the product produced by General Foundry Service.