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MAKO Uses SolidWorks Software to Design Robotics and Implants for Minimally Invasive Surgery Alterna
By Robotics Trends Staff - Filed Jul 14, 2008
More Design and Development stories
MAKO Surgical Corp. used SolidWorks software to design their Tactile Guidance System, a proprietary, FDA-cleared surgeon-interactive robotic arm system that controls surgeons’ movements through the use of tactile resistance technology.

More than 1,000,000 stiff and aching knees worldwide get replaced every year, many of which are now candidates for a breakthrough, minimally invasive knee surgery option called MAKOplasty®. All of the procedure’s key components – including a robotic arm and minimally-invasive resurfacing knee implants – were designed in SolidWorks® 3D CAD software.

Based on more than 200 licensed or owned patent applications and patents, MAKOplasty enables orthopedic surgeons to treat patient-specific, early- to mid-stage osteoarthritic knee disease with consistent, reproducible precision. The procedure employs the MAKO Tactile Guidance System™ (TGS™), a proprietary, FDA-cleared surgeon-interactive robotic arm system that controls surgeons’ movements through the use of tactile resistance technology. Computer-generated virtual surfaces guide surgeons and the robotic arm along their planned path and focus cutting on patient-specific 3D visualizations, based on pre-operative imaging. The surgeon can confidently make complex tissue-sparing and bone-conserving cuts. Any necessary adjustments can be made during the operation, and patients stand to recover faster.

The Fort Lauderdale, Fla., MAKO Surgical Corp. used SolidWorks software to design the TGS, which uses proprietary cable-drives instead of gears to make the robotic arm extremely human-interactive, enabling very high-fidelity tactile response.

“The implants and instruments benefit from SolidWorks’ rapidly improving surfacing capabilities, and the TGS design benefits from SolidWorks’ large assembly and motion simulation capabilities,” said MAKO CTO, Senior Vice-President and Co-founder Rony Abovitz. “We also use SolidWorks to design the virtual volumes – the safe cutting zones, if you will – that guide the surgeon in reshaping patients’ bone surfaces prior to implanting. SolidWorks handles all of these jobs well, and the software is easy for our engineers to learn no matter what platform they’ve learned on.”

The MAKOplasty design effort has been under way since 1997, tracing its surgical navigation and medical robotics roots to a wide range of licensed and internally developed technologies, notably the MIT Artificial Intelligence (AI) Lab, Northwestern University’s Lab for Intelligent Machines, and The Cleveland Clinic. One of the original seats of SolidWorks was used by William Townsend, CEO of Barrett Technology and the co-inventor of core cable-drive robot technologies (WAM™ arm) at the MIT AI Lab.

“Bill Townsend introduced me to SolidWorks co-founder Jon Hirschtick in the late 1990’s – the two had been friends for some time. Since the introduction, we have had a long connection and affinity with SolidWorks – the karma is good, and the results we have produced to date with it have been great,” said Abovitz.

SolidWorks Corporation Vice President of Worldwide Marketing and Strategy Rainer Gawlick said, “MAKOplasty represents a substantial leap in the state of the art, one that stands to benefit a vast and rapidly growing population. It will be interesting to see patients benefit and the company gradually expand its range of robotic arm-assisted procedures.”

MAKO Surgical relies on authorized SolidWorks reseller The SolidExperts for ongoing software training, implementation, and support.

About MAKO Surgical Corp.
MAKO Surgical Corp. is a medical device company that markets its advanced robotic arm solution and implants for minimally invasive orthopedic knee procedures. The MAKO Tactile Guidance System™ (TGS™) includes a surgeon-interactive technology platform that utilizes a tactile robotic arm and patient-specific visualization to prepare the knee joint for the insertion and alignment of resurfacing implants through a minimal incision. This FDA-cleared TGS™ allows surgeons to provide a tissue-sparing, bone resurfacing procedure called MAKOplasty® to a large, yet underserved patient-specific population suffering from early to mid-stage osteoarthritic knee disease. MAKO Surgical has an intellectual property portfolio of more than 200 licensed or owned patent applications and patents relating to the areas of computer assisted surgery, haptics, robotics and implants. Additional information can be found at

About The SolidExperts
The SolidExperts enable innovation and new product development for engineers and manufacturers. With a qualified team of experienced engineers and certified SolidWorks professionals, The SolidExperts provide comprehensive sales, support, and training for the full line of SolidWorks 3D design products. The SolidExperts apply the full power of the industry’s leading design software to help clients achieve the highest levels of innovation and commercial success. Founded in 2006, the consultancy consists of the same team which has served the Florida SolidWorks community since 1999, previously under the name CADD Centers of Florida. As the only locally owned and operated Value Added Reseller for SolidWorks in the state, The SolidExperts remain your local source of reliable SolidWorks expertise. For more information, visit

About SolidWorks Corporation
SolidWorks Corporation, a Dassault Systèmes S.A. (Nasdaq: DASTY, Euronext Paris: #13065, DSY.PA) company, develops and markets software for design, analysis, and product data management. It is the leading supplier of 3D CAD technology, giving teams intuitive, high-performing software that helps them design better products. For the latest news, information, or a live online demonstration, visit the company’s Web site ( or call 1-800-693-9000 (outside of North America, call +1-978-371-5000).

Nancy Buchino
SolidWorks Corporation
P:  978-318-5262


Darby Johnson
Beaupre & Co. Public Relations
P:  603-559-5809

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