Developing a Cancer Treatment Device for Underdeveloped Countries

Lightweight, compact, battery-powered device developed by Datec using thick film technology

Datec developed an aluminum-based heater (IntegrAL®-LV) for a low-voltage medical application that is extremely energy efficient, produces even heat, and takes only seconds to reach 120°C.

Project Overview

The client required a medical device that could be used to thermally destroy cancerous cells. Traditionally, such lesions have been treated through cryotherapy, in which a probe reaches the target cells and the lesion is frozen, thereby killing the tissue.

Cryotherapy technology relies on a constant supply of refrigerant gas, which is expensive and difficult to transport, rendering it unfeasible in many underdeveloped parts of the world where the procedure is needed most.

Datec worked with the client to develop a lightweight, battery-powered device to treat cancer in underdeveloped parts of the world.

Developing an Accessible, Portable Cancer Treatment

Instead of developing a device for cryotherapy, Datec instead developed a thermocoagulation device. This thermocoagulation device achieves the same result as cryotherapy, but with heat and without heavy gas canisters. This new device is portable, lightweight, and has a long battery life to provide life-saving treatment.

Datec supplied the necessary thick film heating element and medical-grade coating for the working surface of the probe.

Key requirements for this lightweight, portable device included:

  • 32W heater that is low profile, lightweight, and compatible with an aluminum substrate.
  • Less than 10 second heat-up time to 120°C using minimal battery power.
  • Evenly distributed heat.
  • Energy-efficient to conserve battery power.
  • Autoclave-safe to enable probe sterilization and reuse.
  • Datec’s Thick Film Heating Solution

    Datec’s proprietary heating and coating technologies are uniquely capable of meeting and exceeding the requirements for the project.

    Datec’s thick-film heater circuits can be printed directly on aluminum substrates, which is a unique capability in the thick-film heater industry. Aluminum is an excellent thermal conductor which, when combined with Datec’s area heaters, allows for exceptional thermal uniformity across the treatment area.

    The heater circuit itself is less than half a millimeter thick and has a very low thermal mass. These specifications allow the heat to be transferred quickly and efficiently to the substrate with minimal battery power consumption.

    Datec’s heaters achieve an operating temperature heat-up time of less than seven seconds, exceeding the product’s initial performance requirement by 30%. This time could be reduced further by using a larger power input. Highly efficient power transfer to the substrate is especially critical for this application, where extending battery life translates directly into treating more patients. Testing has demonstrated that at least 50 treatments of a standard 20-second duration can be achieved on a single battery charge.

    An important component of the project is probe reusability. After a treatment session, the probe must be sterilized. In an undeveloped country where access to clinical resources are limited, this can be done with a simple alcohol wipe down or soak. In developed countries, however, a sterilization cycle in an autoclave machine is preferred. An autoclave machine subjects devices to high pressure saturated steam for 20 minutes, which is generally challenging for electrical devices.

    Datec’s coatings effectively seal the heater circuit against this extreme environment and make the probe autoclave-able. Datec’s heating element, outside of the sealed probe body, has been proven to survive 50+ autoclave cycles without a degradation in performance. The lifetime of a sealed probe is even longer, expanding the potential market for this device.

    Datec also provided a medical grade, non-stick coating for the working surface of the probe. The coating transfers heat from the device to the patient’s tissue, and it is critical that the treated tissue not stick to the probe. Datec’s probe-tip coating is highly effective and has been FDA-approved for medical use.

    Pushing Boundaries for a Life Saving Treatment

    Datec worked with the client to develop a lightweight, battery-powered device to treat cancer in underdeveloped parts of the world. Datec’s ability to print thick film directly onto aluminum was essential for the compact design requirements.

    This new portable, lightweight, and battery-powered device will provide life-saving treatment to underdeveloped parts of the world.

    Datec is a custom heating element manufacturer specializing in thick film heating solutions. Our solutions are ideal for industries such as: commercial food service, medical devices, electronics, automotive, and appliances.

    Get in touch with our engineering team to discuss your product requirements today!

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