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From samurai swords to surgical instruments

Traditional and modern forging methods combined with microscope inspection for optimal instrument quality

“Muramasa” surgical microscissors from the Kamiyama series of instruments made by Takayama Instrument

Microscopes are essential for quality inspection work during the production of surgical instruments. Microscissors, often used during neurosurgical procedures, are an example where quality and reliability of the tool is critical.

With a 90% share of the microsurgical scissors market in Japan and a global presence (USA, Spain, Chile, France, Germany, and Greece), Takayama Instrument, Inc. has developed and optimized a forging technique over generations which is used to make the concave (“Naginata”) shaped blade of its microsurgical scissors.

The company uses multiple S8 APO and A60 F stereo microscopes from Leica Microsystems in its factory for instrument inspection, as well as other tasks.

Mr. Ryushi Takayama allowed us to visit him at the company’s factory in Tokyo where he explained the sophisticated techniques needed for making microsurgical scissors and the importance of microscopes during the production process.

A sharpening method used to make a Naginata-like blade with an extremely sharp edge and tip was developed well over 120 years ago in Japan. Historically, this polishing technique was handed down over generations for the continued creation of fine surgical instruments. At present, this time-honored skill continues to be used only at Takayama Instrument.

 

Despite the long tradition of hand craftsmanship in the company, today 3D CAD is commonly used during machining for continuous precise control. Both analog and digital technology is exploited for instrument production. For this reason, many young people like working in the factory. Mr. Takayama also emphasized that if you do not use cutting-edge technology today, a world-leading surgical instrument company like Takayama Instrument cannot hold up against the competition.

Mr. Takayama also explained how the Leica stereo microscopes allow an efficient observation of the surgical instrument part during inspection. Certain microscope features, such as a large field of view, high depth of focus, and versatile illumination, are crucial for precise and rapid inspection.

Background: Neurosurgical procedures require demanding skills and rigorously developed surgical instruments. Microscissors have been used for many years and are still today by neurosurgeons all over the world. The fine cutting and peeling which occurs during neurosurgery must be performed under a microscope. The working space is tight, the tissue is fragile and weak, and fine blood vessels have to be stretched, so sharp edge cuts are needed to remove the tissue.

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Takayama Instrument combines traditional forging methods, historically developed for weapons like samurai swords, with modern computer controlled machining to produce surgical instruments, such as microscissors.