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Motion Control for Medical Devices



Today, motion control has moved well beyond its traditional uses in manufacturing. Medical devices, automotive, robotics, and personal tools like smartphones and tablets have all benefited from motion control subsystems with lower cost, lower power, and smaller footprints and packaging due to better miniaturization.

Voler Systems' engineers understand how to integrate motion control hardware and software into a complete system using sensors, data acquisition, electronic design, and software.

Here are three (3) examples of motion control projects that Voler Systems has successfully done that demanded high accuracy and/or precision.

Bone Drill for Surgical Applications

BoneDrill3020001small Voler Systems developed a special bone drill that allows a surgeon to see and control precise real-time depth-sensing measurements on a touch screen display.

Using internal sensor technology, special lighting, and auto-stop motion control, the bone drill monitors drill bit tip location and depth. It is accurate to at least a quarter of a millimeter. It stops the drill automatically when it passes out of the bone before it can damage delicate soft tissue.

The drill has a distance sensor and a force sensor for very accurate measurements. Some very complicated algorithms use the information to accurately determine when it breaks through the bone and then stops the drill before it tears up the other tissue.

This type of drill ultimately means less surgical time and better outcomes for the patient.

Motion Control in a Rehabilitation Device

MD1206-1Voler Systems developed this rehabilitation device for a startup that needed it designed and developed at a fairly low cost but still be FDA compliant. We achieved this by combining off-the-shelf modules that had a low development cost with custom electronic components that gave the design the flexibility it required.

The result was a device that enabled an innovative treatment for rehabilitating stroke patients that facilitated complex exercise to improve a patient’s grasp and their ability to move their wrists and ankles.

Complex Motion Control Software in Surgical Table


You may be surprised at how much software is needed to enable the complex motions the latest surgical tables need in order to execute properly depending upon the patient, the operation, and the physician’s needs.

One such surgical table needed to support 6 axes of unique, yet coordinated movement. The design was complicated by the need to control six separate motors, three on each half of the table, and to coordinate their movements to facilitate a surgical procedure. Because of the multiple motors, the accuracy and precision measurements were very complicated. 

Voler Systems successfully developed the motion control software for this new surgical table. The table supports spine surgeries so it needed to hinge in the middle without using any metal for the hinge.

In effect, the two separate pieces are independently controlled by motors. Voler Systems developed and coded algorithms that predict the position of both halves of the table. This ensures the two halves do not drift closer or farther apart than the very tight tolerance allows. Otherwise, it could literally tear the table apart. 

The Importance of Accuracy vs. Precision in Motion Control

Accuracy and precision for the positioning, rate of movement, and force measurements are critical for many motion control systems. The difference between precision and accuracy is that accuracy refers to position compared to a standard, such as the standard for one meter. To be accurate, it is necessary to calibrate to a standard.

Accuracy includes several factors. One is the resolution of your measurement. Another is the noise that’s in the system, which will determine how precise or repeatable you can get.

Other very important factors in both precision and accuracy are temperature drift, linearity, and offset. For more information on the impact of these see

About Voler Systems

Voler Systems' engineers understand motion control systems. We specialize in electronics and software, and in particular, we are good at interfaces for sensors of all types, including cameras, as well as motion control, wireless, and medical devices. We see an increasing trend toward combining sensors and wireless so that measurements and observations can be made remotely without requiring a cable.

Voler Systems provides full-service R&D consulting from concept and design to production of devices for human use and instruments. Our multidisciplinary team knows the regulatory process and procedures and delivers high-quality products on time and on budget.

Voler Systems can design to the strict requirements for federal and European design that include:

  • IEC60601 – medical device requirements
  • IEC62304 – medical device software
  • FDA 21CFR 820.30 Quality System Regulation – Design control
  • ISO 13485:2003 quality management systems – Quality System Regulations

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