Last year, DefProc worked with the Thackray Museum of Medicine in Leeds to repair an interactive exhibit. The exhibit replicated laparoscopy (keyhole surgery), allowing visitors to move graspers around inside a “body” and view what is happening through a video display. 

The challenge

This was the first time we had been asked to repair a museum interactive that wasn’t designed ourselves. It was crucial that we understood the limitations of the museum display to improve laparoscopy to make it more robust and fit for purpose.

Services used

  • 3D printing
  • CAD
  • Hardware

The project

The primary fix was repairing the laparoscopy graspers. They had become misshaped, and the jaws no longer closed, limiting the laparoscopy’s interactive element. For museum installations, it’s crucial to reduce the maximum force anyone can put into the interactive elements to increase longevity. Seeing how the instrument was previously damaged allowed us to undertake preventive repairs to ensure that this wouldn’t happen again. 

L: Before repairs R: After repairs

Inside the machine were soft polystyrene beads, representing blood inside the body. Some of these beads had been damaged by the graspers, so we replaced them with polyethylene beads that are more durable and can withstand being picked up by the graspers. We also added 3D-printed shapes inside the machine. For these, we played around with textures and functions to maximise interactivity, e.g. some of the pieces spin around when picked up by the graspers.

Our extensive experience working with museums for interactive displays and exhibits meant that we knew what was required to make the laparoscopy robust to withstand daily use by people of all ages and abilities. As well as improving user experience, we also upgraded the internal part of the laparoscopy exhibit to prevent future damage. This included moving the camera and internal wiring so they would no longer interact. 

What’s next

We’re always open to projects involving interactive installations. Whether our clients need an exhibit repair or upgrade, or fabricating something entirely new, we’re on hand to create something unique, practical and most importantly, fun! Get in touch with us via our contact page and let us know how we can help you. 

Take a look at other museum exhibits we’ve worked on, such as installations celebrating the Apollo 11 moon landing for the National Science and Media Museum or a commissioned exhibit exploring the history of soap-making.