Endiatx and its 3D-Printed Robotic Pill Capable of Diagnosing Gastrointestinal Illnesses

Published on June 24, 2024 by Madeleine P.

As medical 3D printing continues to develop, more and more companies are incorporating it into different applications. This manufacturing method, which offers high customization and production speed, enables a variety of applications in the healthcare field. In particular, 3D printing offers numerous advantages for the treatment of gastrointestinal and stomach diseases. Start-up Endiatx, for example, has developed PillBot, a 3D-printed motorized robotic pill capable of diagnosing gastrointestinal diseases. We met the Endiatx team to find out more about this innovative solution and how additive manufacturing made it possible.

3DN: Could you introduce yourself and tell us about your connection with 3D printing?

My name is Thomas Silva and I’m Manufacturing Manager at Endiatx. 3D printing technologies have always fascinated me, but it wasn’t until university that I had the opportunity to explore them practically. During my studies, I had access to a wide range of machines, from FDM 3D printers to SLA 3D printers. This exposure enabled me to understand the advantages and limitations of the different versions of additive manufacturing technologies. As I moved into industry, 3D printing took on a whole new meaning for me. From a simple rapid prototyping tool, it has become an essential process for manufacturing various components of end products. Today, it’s an indispensable part of my business, driving innovation and efficiency in our operations.


Thomas Silva with the PillBot

3DN: What is Endiatx? How did the idea of creating the company come about?

Endiatx is a Silicon Valley-based startup working to bring microrobotics to the human body. The company was founded by a group of creatives and inventors who wanted to combine their skills to create innovative technology that would have a positive impact on the lives of people around the world. Inspired by films such as Innerspace (1987), the idea of tiny robots operating inside the human body represented an exciting and challenging technological frontier to explore. We set out to realize this science-fiction vision and revolutionize the way gastrointestinal diseases are diagnosed and treated.

3DN: What is the PillBot? What 3D printing method and materials did you use to create it?

The PillBot is a virtual endoscopy device, described as a “mobile eyeball in the stomach.” This pill-shaped camera, which can be swallowed, enables patients to obtain diagnoses from world-renowned gastrointestinal doctors without leaving their homes. To manufacture the majority of the PillBot’s components, we use SLA 3D printing. Formlabs printers offer us a wide range of materials, including biocompatible materials essential for medical devices.

The PillBot can be swallowed to diagnose gastric diseases.

3DN: What are the benefits of using 3D printing in the medical sector?

The use of 3D printing offers many advantages, applicable to various sectors, such as rapid prototyping and the convenience of compact printers. This technology enabled us to quickly develop the first prototypes, even from home.

However, in the medical sector, the main advantage of 3D printing lies in its ability to create complex geometries, impossible to achieve with traditional manufacturing methods. The human body is a highly complex system, and although the stomach is relatively large compared to other cavities, the PillBot had to be small to be swallowed safely and navigate the digestive tract. Thanks to 3D printing, we were able to turn our three-dimensional designs and models into reality, ensuring that our devices met the stringent requirements necessary for safe and effective medical applications.

3DN: What are Endiatx’s future projects?

The future is very bright for us at Endiatx. We are currently developing the PillBot 2, which will be more powerful, more precise and more accessible than our current model. We also envisage a future where our PillBots are not simply passive observers, but active microsurgeons inside the human body. We’re exploring the possibility of creating even smaller devices, possibly using MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) technology, to combat diseases such as brain tumors. The only limit is our imagination, and with the cutting-edge tools and technologies at our disposal, we’re ready to turn these revolutionary applications into reality.

3DN: Any last words for our readers?

Looking to the future, it’s clear that the integration of 3D printing into the medical field is beginning to reveal its full potential. At Endiatx, we’ve already seen how this technology can revolutionize the development and functionality of devices like our PillBot, enabling us to create complex and essential tools once reserved for science fiction. However, beyond the technical advances, what excites us most is the impact these innovations will have on patients’ lives: safer, more effective and less invasive diagnostic and therapeutic options.

We’re committed to pushing back the boundaries of what’s possible, and look forward to continuing this adventure of innovation. Ultimately, we’ll make healthcare more accessible and effective for everyone. We thank you for your interest in our work, and look forward to sharing more exciting developments with you in the near future.

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*All Photo Credits: Endiatx

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