Design of an 3D printed actuation platform for concentric tube robots.

MSc assignment

Aims and objectives

To design and build an 3D printed actuation platform for Concentric Tube Robots (CTRs). This platform should be able to rotate and translate the individual pre-curved tube with high precision, while providing real-time actuation information of the individual tubes.


CTRs consist of two or more pre-curved tubes nesting in each other and are typically made of Nitinol a Nickel Titanium alloy. Nitinol is a super elastic material with a recoverable strain of 8 – 11%. These properties are utilized in CTRs as each tube is pre-curved and nesting within another pre-curved tube. So, the individual curves are interacting with each other shaping the body and thereby the end-effector orientation and position of a CTR. Thus, to position the end-effector within the workspace the CTR body is shaped by means of actuating the individual tubes such that the end-effector reaches the desired pose.

Brief project plan

Currently the NextGen in Vivo project is in the startup phase and the concentric tube robot is still under development. But the first steps in building the actuation platform can already be made. As three main design constrains are already known:

  1. The tubes should be actuated such that each tube can be actuated relative from the other tubes and without interfering with their actuation.
  2. The most inner tube is hollow allowing for the insertion of sensors through the CTR body. This hollow structure cannot be blocked by the actuation platform as it will eventually be used to insert a camera through the CTR structure.
  3. The design should be modular allowing for either two or three tubes.

For this assignment knowledge of Solidworks, 3D printing and the basics of embedded systems is preferred as we would like to build the actuation platform with 3D printed parts and control by means of an embedded system.


You can contact me (via email: if you would like to know more about this project.